Lynda P. writes: My father gave me a 25c paper currency from Canada. It has a picture of a woman with a helmet looking to the right holding a three pronged trident. The wording above the picture is: “the Dominion of Canada will pay on demand. there is the “department of finance canada “offical seal on the right, on the left of the picture is a “B” and a large 25 with a serial number 624975. My grandfather called them “shin plasters” I was very curious as to why they were called that and any other info you could give us on these. Is there any value aside from the “family” value?
Fractional currency of the Dominion of Canada was issued only in the denomination of 25 cents and were issued from 1870 to 1923. The colloquial name for these notes are “Shinplasters”.
The name probably originated during the U.S. Revolutionary war in which soldiers used Continental Currency as lining for their shoes (“not worth a shinplaster”). The term was also used in the United States during the Civil War (1861-65) and referred to the “Legal Tender” notes issued by the North but not redeemable for gold or silver (specie). Legal Tender notes were essentially fiat money but they helped the North finance the war. Soldiers considered the Legal Tender notes equal to the paper soldiers stuffed in their socks to keep their feet warm in the winter.
The Canadian experience with 25c emergency paper money is similar and so the term was borrowed. The fractional notes were only suppose to be used temporarily in 1870 but the public found the notes useful and they continued as a series until 1923. They were recalled in 1935. They were often given to children as souvenirs.