Increased demand for precious metals during the Civil War—including gold, silver and copper—led to a shortage of coins. So in 1863, the U.S. government began issuing fractional currency, which at the time included notes and coins in 3, 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50-cent denominations.
Some of the rarest U.S. coins in history include famous fractionals. Among these is the 1913 Liberty Head nickel; rumored to have been minted secretly in Philadelphia, only five are known to exist today. One was purchased by well-known coin collector Louis Eliasberg in 1948; it sold for $1.5 million when Eliasberg’s collection was dispersed at auction nearly 50 years later. Another one of these coins sold for $5 million in 2007. Then, there’s the 1894-S Barber dime. According to the U.S. Mint, only 24 Barber dimes were minted in San Francisco in 1894, with 10 coins known to survive today. One of these survivors sold for $1.5 million.
Today, fractional U.S. currency—defined as any coin representing a value under one dollar—is extremely popular with collectors due to its historical significance and wide availability. Browse our collection of fractionals and select your favorites today!