Benton County Historical Society Exhibitions Curator Mark Tolonen suggested the item below as the subject for the blog saying, “there are probably a lot of stories that could be learned from this one note.” He was certainly correct.
This tattered paper is a two-thirds dollar note issued by the colonial assembly of Maryland. British policy kept the American colonies chronically short of money which made transactions difficult. Colonists resorted to using native wampum and tobacco and tobacco notes (certificates of inspection). Finally, in 1733, the colony began to issue paper money, denominated in shillings and backed by tobacco and securities of the Bank of England. In 1767, Maryland began issuing currency in dollar denominations instead of shillings. Although the term “dollar” was in common use, this was the first official dollar currency. Two-third dollar seems like an odd amount but it was chosen because it equaled 3 British shillings. The note shown above was issued in 1774, the last time colonial Maryland printed any currency. The note is tattered because currency was still scarce in the colonies so each bill was kept in circulation for a long time.
The front of the note says “Two Thirds of a Dollar. / [No. 10365 / This Indented BILL of Two thirds of a DOLLAR shall entitle the Bearer thereof to receive Bill of Exchange payable in LONDON, or Gold or Silver at the Rate of four SHILLINGS and SIX PENCE Sterling for the said Bill, according to the Directions of an Act of Assembly of MARYLAND.” If you look closely at the image, you can see a caret under the “h” in first appearance of the word “Third.” This was one of many “secret” marks the official printers use to try to discourage counterfeiting. There are several others but they are hard to see. The idea was that counterfeiters would assume these were errors introduced by other counterfeiters and correct them. It didn’t work.
The reverse shows a practice, introduced by Benjamin Franklin, which was also designed to deter counterfeiters. A wet cloth was placed over a smooth plaster and then leaves or other plant material put on top. The plaster hardened under pressure to become a mold for a copper printing plate. The fine lines and detailed patterns were difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate.
The reverse also notes that it was printed by A.C. and ____ Green. What is noteworthy is that A. C. Green was a woman: Anne Catharine Hoof Green.
Anne Catharine Hoof was born in the Netherlands around 1720 and later emigrated with her parents. In 1738 She married Jonas Green, the son of printers, in Philadelphia. They moved to Annapolis Maryland and set up a print shop in their home which published a newspaper, the Maryland Gazette. Jonas also had a contract with the Maryland Assembly to publish official documents.
After Jonas died in debt in 1767, Anne Catharine took over, continuing to publish the newspaper and completed the work the government had commissioned. She made a success of the business, paying off the debt and winning the position as official printer. The unreadable other initial is probably an F for her son Frederick who helped his mother in the business and took over after she died in 1775. She was the first, or at least one of the first, women printers and publishers in America.