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Money in a pinch

Alternative and emergency money is created during economic hard times in place of regular coins or paper money. 

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Wars, recessions and natural disasters may result in the issuance of emergency currency.  This currency is most often issued by local authorities, merchants or private individuals when money issued by the government becomes scarce or unavailable due to hoarding or lack of supply. 

Today, this type of occurrence is rare and usually occurs only in more remote areas of the country, but in the era of bullion coinage when a dollar was composed of just under a dollar's worth of gold or silver, and paper currency was a substitute for "real" money, it was common for coinage to disappear from circulation, creating a crisis for merchants. 

In the United States there was a severe recession in 1858, a panic in 1907, and a depression in the 1890s. The Civil War played havoc with the economy, and other times of hardship have plagued us every 10 to 20 years throughout our history.

Emergency coinage and paper fractional notes were used on many occasions, most famously during the "Hard Times" period of the 1830s  and during the Civil War, when merchants issued tokens  and paper scrip to replace the small change that had disappeared from circulation.