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Gold and silver coins were scarce during Michigan’s early statehood days, so local banks were allowed to print paper money to lubricate the wheels of commerce.

The elaborately-engraved multi-colored bills were theoretically exchangeable for metallic “hard money” but it didn’t take long for wheeler-dealers to float a tidal wave of bills worth less than the paper on which they were printed.

Get the whole story in this edition of Joe Donovan’s Detroit History:

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