Massachusetts: September 17, 1776 - Sword in hand
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    Massachusetts Currency

    September 17, 1776 - Sword in hand

    An emission of £50,004 in legal tender bills of credit engraved and printed by Paul Revere in Boston. This emission was authorized by legislation approved on September 16th, which was enacted on the following day, September 17th. This was the third of four emissions of notes by Revere in his series featuring an American soldier on the back, often called the "Sword in hand" issues. Approximately 4,630 bills were issued for each denomination in this emission and were redeemable in "Lawfull Money" on December 7, 1781. However this emission as well as all bills of 6s or higher from previous emissions were recalled for exchange by an act of October 13, 1777, which was amended three times, successively extending the date for redemption until December 1, 1778, at which time the notes became invalid and unredeemable.

    The front of each note has a small oval vignette with a ship docked at a harbor or a tree; the design differs on each denomination. The back depicts a colonial American soldier (sometimes called a minuteman) with a sword in his right hand and a copy of the Declaration of Independence in his left. Above is the motto "Issued in defence of American Liberty" and below is the motto of Massachusetts "Ense petit placidam sub Libertate Quietem." (By the sword one seeks peace under tranquil liberty).

    The copper plates were the same ones used for the earlier issues of this series but with some significant alterations. Naturally, for each emission the dating was modified by rubbing out the date etched into the copper plate and replacing it with the proper date for the new emission. But, as this was the first emission following the Declaration of Independence, which had been signed on July 4th, a more substantial modification was required. For this issue the word "Colony" on the front of the notes (appearing twice) was rubbed out and replaced with "State". As early as September 10th (six days before the emission was authorized) the House ordered Oliver Wendell to: "wait on Mr. Revere, to desire him to alter the word Colony, in the plate on which the bills of credit are to be struck off, and insert State in the room thereof." With the authorizing of the issue on the 16th a committee of signers was formed and on the 18th Captain Johathan Brown was asked to bring back paper for emission from the paper mill of Vose, Lewis and Crane in Milton to Watertown, where the House of Representatives was meeting. (Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts,1886, vol. 5, page 559 and the House Journal, pp. 93-97, 108-109 and 112).

    For this and the fourth emission of Sword in hand issues only the higher denomination notes from 10s through 48s were produced. One set of front and back copper plates, used in the previous emissions, were modified and used for this issue to produce sheets with an example of each of the eight different denominations. The copper plate for the back of these notes is extant in the Massachusetts State Archives. As it was further modified for the fourth issue of November 17, 1776, it is discussed in that section.

    Paul Revere's original invoice for the printing of the September and the November emissions is preserved in the Chamberlain Collection in the Boston Public Library. Next to the date Sep 27 is a charge for £41 3s1 and 1/2d for printing a total of 37,040 bills at 2d Old Tenor per bill. The invoice was submitted on December 30, 1776 and Revere was paid by the state on January 2, 1777.

    Denominations for the September 17, 1775 issue were: 10s, 14s, 16s, 22s, 28s, 36s, 42s and 48s.

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