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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Continental currency, one-third dollar, 1776Continental currency, one-third dollar, 1776

In 1775 the Continental Congress authorized the issuance of paper money to finance the American War for Independence. These notes, known as "Continentals," would be redeemable only after the colonies won their independence. Overprinted and distrusted by the public, they declined rapidly in value, giving rise to the popular expression "not worth a Continental." Today, of course, they are worth a great deal to collectors and historians. Through the efforts of Vladimir and Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, who headed the National Numismatic Collection from the 1950s to the 1980s, the Smithsonian acquired many examples of American colonial currency as well as hundreds of thousands of coins, medals, and notes from around the world.

See also: Coins and Currency, Revolutionary War

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