Florida Currency

Florida’s monetary history saw circulating within its borders, every form of money known to mankind. One of the earliest notes issued in Florida is that of Gregor MacGregor’s Amelia Island note issued August 19, 1817, after he proclaimed Florida liberated Spanish rule. His invasion force landing at Fernandina on June 29, 1817 with no opposition this short lived victory world lay the ground work for the Spanish secession of Florida to American rule in 1821. Also featured in the museum is a medal to commemorate his liberation of Florida. Dated 1817, the medal features the flag on it, raised by Mac Gregor, that became known as the Green Cross of Florida, a white flag with the green cross of St. George in the center. In 1821, as a result of the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, Florida officially became a territory of the U.S. A and General Andrew Jackson was to be its first territorial governor. This new territory would get its first official currency by an act approved by the Territorial Legislative Council of Florida on Nov. 22, 1828. It provided for an issue of interest bearing Treasury Notes.

Two distinct issues by Treasurer Davis Floyd were commissioned. The first dated January and February of 1829 in denominations of 50 cents, $1, $2, $3 and $5. The second release came in 1830 and 1831, with only $1, $2, $3 and $5. Both issues of notes are all signed by Davis Floyd, Territorial Treasurer and are all made payable to John Y. Garey, or bearer.

The Civil War had a major impact on Florida money and not unlike the other southern states, it too would issue its own treasury notes to finance its involvement in the Civil War. The notes would be issued from 1861 to 1865 in various denominations, designs and printers with five different issues and one issue dated February 18, 1870, during the reconstruction period after the Civil War. Only $1 denominations are known and are signed by Republican Governor Harrison Reed. These beautiful orate green notes represent the last issue of paper money of any kind by the State of Florida. After 1870 the federal government would be the sole issuer of the states notes. The National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864 was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln at a time when city and county scrip, paper money of territorial and state bank notes, most of questionable value, flooded the country with a form of fiat currency. This act would bring great stability to the nations banks and would last until the great depression era, ending in 1935.
The museum contains the most complete collection of National Bank Notes ever assembled for the State of Florida and the only collection to ever house at least one note from every town issuing National Bank Notes. Between 1829-1843 several territorial banks issued large numbers of bank notes throughout Florida. These banks, were mostly capitalized by Northerners and gullible investors who bought their bonds. They would all be gone by 1843 with no possible redemption they became known as broken bank notes or obsoletes. In the 1850’s a number of banking laws were enacted and three major banks, the Bank of St. Johns, Jacksonville, the State Bank of Florida, Tallahassee and the bank of Fernandina were the result. The Civil War would end all 3 of these institutions by 1865. The museum contains the most complete collection of all these notes ever assembled.

Throughout much of Florida’s early history, private scrip and paper money was often issued in order to conduct business by merchants. The bills usually promised goods or services to the bearer or offers of redemption. These scrip often changed hands between other merchants in the town of issue. Railroads issued change bills and became a trusted form of paper money in Florida from 1852 to 1870. After the Civil War sawmill operations issued scrip redeemable by workers only in the company store. During the Great Depression of 1929-33 and the panics of 1893 and 1907 clearing house certificates and Depression Scrip were issued by many banks to accommodate trade during the banks closure or “Bank Holiday”. The collection also contains many examples of these issues.

From an educational standpoint the museum also houses the only known examples of antique college currency, also respected are many bonds and stock certificates from Florida’s Territorial period onward. Florida’s history of money museum would not be complete without its massive representation of tokens. These metal objects representing merchants and companies which issued “Good For” or “Redeemable” tokens from the late 1800’s into the 1940’s and later with drink tokens, saloon tokens, lumber company tokens, transportation, food stamp, amusement, and thousands of issuers. The collection has representations from every facet of issuers.
Historical medals, while not money, provide an interesting representation of much of Florida’s history and events, these are also featured in the museum. Wherever possible we have provided photos from postcards and other sources to show photos of the banking institutions and their officers, as well as old town views.

All items pictured on this museum site are the property of William Youngerman, Inc.  No duplication or copying of any notes, tokens, currency or objects on this site is permitted without written permission from WYI.  The museum site is a free educational site for the educating of persons interested in learning about Florida’s history as seen through it’s vast assortment of numismatic and financial instruments.  This collection is a result of decades of collecting by William Youngerman and is always a work in progress.  Persons having material not found on this site should contact WYI, as we are always looking to add to the collection.  We are also interested in any information that may add historical accuracy and interest to objects,  places, and people.  Please feel free to contribute articles and information to the museum for publishing on our site with credits given to you.