A hoard of pre-Revolutionary War colonial paper money

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November 11, 2010 – The Colonial Williamsburg Collection acquires an important hoard of paper money. It comprises more than 6,600 notes in varying denominations issued between 1748 and 1771 by North Carolina. “It has much to offer students of early American coins and currency”, states Erik Goldstein, Colonial Williamsburg’s curator of mechanical arts and numismatics.

The hoard is named after Samuel Cornell, who originally compiled it. He was a New Yorker, who became a wealthy merchant after moving to North Carolina in the mid-1750s. He was involved in high-risk currency speculation as evidenced by this hoard. In 1775, just on the eve of the Revolution, Cornell sailed for London. After two years there, he headed to New York City, then in the hands of the British. Before his death in 1781 he was able to transport his monetary cache to New York. It remained in the hands of the family until 1913, when it was offered to the New York Public Library. The library sold the hoard of currency to a dealer during the 1970s. He sold half of the ensemble then. An anonymous donor presented the remaining part now to the Colonial Williamsburg numismatic collection.
A part of this hoard will be on display at the end of November, when the new exhibition “Dollars, Farthings & Fables: Money & Medals From the Colonial Williamsburg Collection” opens.

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