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FRACTIONAL CURRENCY SHIELDS

FRACTIONAL CURRENCY SHIELDS

Fractional currency shields are made up of thirty nine specimens that are glued to a cardboard back. A total of twenty fronts and nineteen backs make up a shield. These shields were made between June, 1866 and May, 1869. There are three type of shields and they are determined by the color of their background (grey, pink and green). Most of the shields in existence show water damage. They were stored in the treasury and were damaged during a flood. The population of the shields are as follows: 200-400 grey shields, 20-25 pink shields and 10-14 green shields. Only the pink and green shields have the Grant/Sherman specimens with Colby and Spinner hand signed signatures. These shields were produced to stem counterfeiting. The government wanted to place them in banks and post offices so that a person could compare their notes with the notes on the shields to see if their notes were counterfeit. This idea never became popular since these institutions didn't want to buy the shields.

The green shield at the O'Mara sale recently sold for $25,300. Nice pink shields now command $15,000-18,000 and the grey shields will bring in $3,000-9,000, depending on condition. If you desire one of the pink or green shields, you will only see them for sale at major auctions. Be prepared to pay a hefty surcharge for the better quality ones.

The example shown below is a pink shield that I purchased from one of Heritage's auctions. The following quote is from the item description for that auction.

"There are perhaps two dozen Pink Currency Shields in existence... As with virtually all Pink and Green Shields, all four hand autographed Third Issue notes are signed by Colby and Spinner and the rare hand signed Colby-Spinner Grant-Sherman is particularly nice. The Shield has been cut around the periphery of the pink engraving and is reframed in a handsome modern wood frame. The pink background color is outstanding, and is actually more of a dark lavender than the normally seen pink. We've seen one other in this shade, and suspect that it was the original color of all the Pink Shields with the lighter toned examples having turned from exposure to light over the years. The back of the 25 Second Issue has faded slightly, as is virtually always the case on shields, and the dark curtain 3 shows some light aging. All the other notes are fully bright examples with flashy bronze and ideal color. Were it not cut down, this would be one of the very finest Pink Shields in existence."