During the Civil War, money was scarce, and a severe coin shortage meant few coins struck by the U.S. government were available for circulation. To circumvent that problem, the United States issued fractional currency, or paper notes in denominations of less than $1. These notes were intended to help keep the economy humming even at a time when small change was virtually absent from commerce in many parts of the divided United States. Fractional currency was produced from 1862, during the height of the war, until 1876, near the end of Reconstruction.
During the 14 years of fractional currency production there were five issues of currency, with the Third Issue printed from December 5, 1864 through August 16, 1869. This issue included notes with denominations of 3 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, and 50 cents, with each denomination bearing a different design.