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John Morton

Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Morton signs a Pennsylvania 2½ shilling colonial note

John Morton, 1725–1777.  Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Pennsylvania; signer of the Continental Association.  Pennsylvania colonial currency signed, John Morton, April 3, 1772.  Countersigned by John Sellers and Charles Humphreys.

This is a Pennsylvania note for two shillings, six pence.  Morton has signed it as a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly.

Morton, an associate justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and by then a former speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, played an vital role in the decision to declare American independence from Great Britain.  Although he did not want to sever ties with Britain, he ultimately provided the vote that swung the Pennsylvania delegation to vote in favor of adopting the Declaration of Independence.  His vote preserved the unanimity of the colonies on the issue of independence.

Morton has signed this note for two shillings, six pence—“Half-a-Crown”— issued “According to an act of the General Assembly of Pensilvania [sic], passed in the Twelfth Year of the Reign of his Majesty GEORGE the Third.  Dated the 3d Day of April, Anno. Dom. 1772.”  This piece bears the Penn family coat of arms.  It is from Plate A and is hand numbered as No. 30529.  The reverse bears the legend “To Counterfeit is DEATH.”

This note is part of an issuance of £25,000 in bills of credit by the colony of Pennsylvania.  It was printed in Philadelphia by Davis Hall and William Sellers, who bought the printing business from Benjamin Franklin.  The April 3, 1772, issuance comprised nine denominations of notes:  3, 4, 6, and 18 pence, 1, 2, and 40 shillings, and this denomination of 2 shillings 6 pence, or 2½ shillings.  Pieces of this issuance are not among the most common of Pennsylvania’s colonial currency.

Morton has signed this currency in brown ink.  The paper is darkly toned, but the signatures of Morton and the others are still nicely readable.  The note has one vertical fold, which affects one letter of Morton’s signature.  The fold is separated at the top, with slight paper loss at the edge affecting the border, but the separation does not affect the signatures. 

This note has both autographic and numismatic value.  From an autograph standpoint, the piece is in very good condition.




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