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The historical ‘funny money’ known as “Shinplasters”

Dec 20, 2017 • by Berks History Center
Shinplasters were notes of "legal tender" but were not backed by gold or silver.

Also know by other epithets such as “rag money,” shinplasters were fractional currency notes, sometimes valued in what would now be considered very odd and awkward fractions. The national Recession of 1837-1842, and then the Civil War, stunned the banking system and gave birth to creative, private currency exchanges. Shinplasters were notes of “legal tender” but were not backed by gold or silver. 

Discover more about this “funny money” in the upcoming Winter Issue of The Historical Review of Berks County! Are you a member? Check you mailboxes! The Winter Issue is coming soon. 

For a limited time, you can also see this creative currency in person. The shinplasters from the BHC Research Library collection are now on display in the BHC Museum. Stop by and visit to see this rare collection of your Berks history. 

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