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Third Issue: 12/5/186408/16/1869
Like the email Spam artists of today,
fractional counterfeiters were relentless, and in many cases, gifted,
in their specialty. The U.S. Bureau of Engraving was in full swing by
the time of the Third Issue's advent, and they worked ardently to produce
notes that by their sheer artistry should have thwarted most counterfeit
attempts; but they didn't. Issue three has most extensive list of denominations,
five, and the most varieties, 78, of any other of the five issues. Following
the lead of larger denominations, all the notes of the third issue save
the three-cent note (used mainly to buy postage stamps, which cost three
cents) carried either autographed or printed signatures, usually of
the Register and Treasurer. They were issued on better, high fiber paper
with reverses that came in different colors for the same obverse. Hardly
noticeable letters or numbers were hidden like Easter eggs around designs
that had grown as intricate as Oriental mandalas; again, all painstakingly
instituted to keep the business of printing money exclusively in the
hands of the U.S. government. Denominations include 3, 5, 10, 25, and
50-cent notes (of which there were two distinct types). There was a
15-cent type printed in "specimen" form, but never generally
distributed. The Third issue brought with it a level of artistry and
effort heretofore unheard of with fractional notes, a level that would
be sustained for the remaining two issues.
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