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Cut Notes: Intriguing, Historical, and Unusual

It has once in a while served the financial purposes of a variety of governments throughout the planet to separate some circulating notes either into halves or various-size segments, and very often overprinting them with different values or inscriptions, and recirculating the cut pieces as notes on their own. Such separating may have taken place before the establishment of the American Colonies; the earliest instance I even have been ready to locate where mention of this type of activity happened was in colonial Connecticut in 1709. (This citation et al. from the colonies are from the good book the first folding money of America, by Eric ) , Half and quarter sections were being in use with independently proportional values given to them. Some types of notes even showed smaller values in each corner of a given note in anticipation of separation.

In Massachusetts, there was a problem of chickenfeed notes in 1722 on parchment. such a problem aimed to stop the halving and quartering of prior issues. Rhode Island tried quite once to halt such actions. Finally, in 1738, sections of notes were declared invalid and there was nowhere to show them certain redemption.

For the subsequent discussion of cut notes of newer years, I will be able to affect all such instances in alphabetical order.


It is quite possible that the separation of notes into smaller pieces due to the need to form change happened without official sanction during several places and circumstances over the years. Such activity has also occurred with governmental approval using notes not originally designed to be thus treated (e.g., see Nicaragua). But as far as I can determine, war One and its economic distresses clothed to be the explanation for the primary problems with more contemporary currency printed with an expectation of its possibly being separated into smaller units for circulation. Such notes aren’t found within the regular problems with any country involved in the war; instead, they seem like parts of varied local or city issues in small denominations known within the numismatic world as notgeld (translation from German: money of need or emergency). Both Austria and Germany had very extensive issues from excellent many cities and towns, plus a big addition of such notes by private industries and individual shopkeepers and businesses. Most were made specifically to sell to collectors; there was little else they might be used for since the bulk were produced during years of severe economic distress and extreme inflation. the topic of noted may be a significant study all by itself.

The Austrian piece is shown maybe a 10 heller made with two halves of 5 hellers each, coming from the town of Imst. the 2 5 hellers are joined at the middle that would be severed, theoretically, anytime to form change if needed. I even have never seen a separate section of this note by itself. The issue date is ca. 1920.

It appears that outside of the notgeld notes as previously discussed, most problems with the currency that was eventually authorized by the respective government to be segmented for various purposes contain pieces never intended to be cut. Outside influences of a political or financial nature took their toll on a nation’s economy, forcing such action to be administered as necessary for the upkeep of economic or monetary stability.

World War Two was exactly such an outdoor influence, affecting the whole world generally and certain nations more specifically. Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) was one of those places. chickenfeed had become scarce by 1942, so an initial run of locally printed 25 and 50-cent notes happened. Shortly thereafter, another issue was made; this subsequent printing of only 5-cent notes was prepared for straightforward separation into halves to make 2c and 3c notes as required. I surmise that in the preparation of those 5-cent notes, the thought of rouletting down the middle for further simple separation came forward and was acted upon for a part of the printing.

Colombia underwent a severe shortage of coins presumably caused by local fiscal decisions. the govt took a quantity of R series 1-peso notes dated 1942 and 1943, sliced them in halves, then proceeded to overprint each half like a half peso. Those dated 1942 have serial numbers 57 000 001 to 58 000 000. Those bearing the 1943 date are serially numbered from 70 000 001 to 70 250 000.

Both sides of the cut pieces were overprinted. there’s a serious variety within the black text applied to the face of the halves dated 1942. Some include the local imprint of the printer’s name LITOGRAFIA COLOMBIA, S.A.-BOGOTA near rock bottom. No notes dated 1943 have this imprint.
Because of the severe world conflict, the island of Cyprus was bereft of importing pieces of any kind within the denomination of three piastres. the govt took action by taking some 1-shilling notes dated 30.8.1941 and overprinting them on each side with inscriptions and numerals designating them to be used as 3 piastres.

That action didn’t completely solve the matter. Some unscrupulous individuals found how of removing two of the overprinted numerals “3” from opposite corners on the rear, then tried to combine such altered notes in with regular 1-shilling pieces. the ultimate remedy was then acted upon because the government introduced a right-side third of a 1-shilling note and overprinted this segment on each side as an interim 3-piastre issue. It bore the date of 1.3.1943. A more permanent replacement was released several months later.

Fanning Island :
This island within the central Pacific south of Hawaii was the house of a relay station for the Cable and Wireless Company. This station was an important link between Australia and North America during war Two. American troops arrived there in 1942, and shortly the tiny amount of Australian currency on the island was depleted. The manager of Fanning Island Plantations, R.G. Garrett, arranged for a supposed issue of 1000 local 1-pound notes to be printed in Hawaii. (Serial numbers in more than 3000 are recorded.)

The notes bore text indicating their backing to be Australian money redeemable at the corporate office. They were wont to pay local workers. After the currency shortage abated, these notes were dig halves and their corners were clipped off. Left halves were marked as 1 shilling in blue crayon, right halves 2 shillings in red crayon. it’s said that these pieces served as movie tickets; it’s also believed that they might have circulated further at their marked values.

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