In the early years of the United States dollar, no federally created currency was issued. Each individual entity (cities, banks, states, companies) that had a need for currency designed and printed their own. Most of these currencies circulated locally and exchanged equally with other close-by local currencies.
By the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861, thousands upon thousands of different issues were circulating around the country, some were good, viable sources, and others were bankrupt or fraudulent altogether. This, along with rampant counterfeiting led to widespread refusal to exchange unknown or non-local currencies, and traveling soldiers who had left home with money in their pockets suddenly found that money to be worthless in distant locales.
These problems led the United States government to form a charter of banks and create a centrally designed and printed currency that would circulate throughout the nation, bringing an end to the era of what we now call "obsolete currency."
Obsolete currency is highly collectible today for its beautiful engraving, curious designs, and general rarity. Many cities, towns, railroads, and bank names that no longer exist today can be found in obsolete currency making these pieces of scrip a tangible way to tell the history of a nation!