Content of the Collection
Browse the Collection



Early Federal

Bechtler Gold Coins

North Carolina Paper Money 1830s-1860

North Carolina Civil War Issues 1861-1865

Exhibit Home

North Carolina Paper Money 1830s-1860

Prewar North Carolina Bank Notes (1815 to April 1861)

The University Library’s numismatic collection contains a significant number of notes issued before the Civil War by North Carolina banks and by financial institutions located outside North Carolina. This section features North Carolina currencies that represent banks with central offices and branches in towns such as Asheville, Charlotte, Elizabeth City, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Hillsborough, Lexington, Murphy, New Bern, Raleigh, Salem, Salisbury, Wadesboro, Washington, Wilmington, and Yanceyville. Currently, the earliest North Carolina bank notes in the collection date from 1815-1816, while the largest selection of antebellum bank notes date between 1850 and the weeks prior to May 20, 1861, when North Carolina voted to secede from the Union and made plans to join the Confederate States of America. North Carolina bank notes issued after that date in 1861 are highlighted in this site’s “NC Civil War Issues” section.

Other Antebellum North Carolina Specimens

Bank notes were certainly not the only form of paper money used by North Carolinians prior to the Civil War. Other businesses in the state, such as textile mills and insurance companies, augmented the supply of currency in circulation by issuing their own scrip and notes of deposit. In Guilford County, the town of Greensboro proved to be a hub of activity for enterprises and businessmen who produced moneys in these forms. They included the Mount Hecla Steam Cotton Mills; Greensboro Mutual Life Insurance and Trust Company; and Thomas R. Tate, a prominent merchant and the son-in-law of Mount Hecla Mills owner Henry Humphreys. The University Library’s numismatic collection contains some specimens from those sources in Greensboro. The collection also contains other bank- and money-related items from this prewar period. One example highlighted in this section is an original stock certificate for ten shares issued in 1860 by the Bank of North Carolina to “M[ontford]. M. McGehee.” An alumnus of the University of North Carolina, Montford McGehee (1822-1895) was a highly influential lawyer and wealthy planter who at various times represented Caswell and Person counties in North Carolina’s General Assembly and later served as the state’s commissioner of agriculture between 1880 and 1887.

See all the images from North Carolina Paper Money.