The first coins to circulate in the 13 colonies were not products of their own mints but were brought over by the early settlers from England. These included coins like halfpennies, farthings (quarter pennies), shillings, and sixpences. Spanish silver coins, such as pieces of eight (also known as Spanish dollars), were also popular, especially in the southern colonies. This popularity was due to the thriving trade between the southern colonies and Spain and Latin America.
It’s worth noting that these early American settlers were quite resourceful in their use of foreign currencies. The Spanish dollars, for example, were often cut into smaller pieces, creating “bits” or “pieces of eight,” to facilitate smaller transactions. This practice was common not only in the colonies but also in many other parts of the world.
As the 13 colonies started to grow and prosper, they realized the need for a more stable and readily available currency system. They began to mint their own coins, a move that was essential for the development of local economies. When the colonists initiated their coinage efforts, they often borrowed designs from the familiar English and Spanish coins. This borrowing of designs served to create a sense of continuity and trust in the newly minted colonial coins.