The U.S. dollar isn't perfect, but we take its convenience for granted. Before the American Civil War, state-chartered banks and private entities printed their own money. By some estimates there were 30,000 currencies in circulation. While the proliferation of monies didn't bode well for the national economy, it was a catalyst for some of the most interesting design work in early American history.
Here's a note designed by a Georgia illustrator in 1863:
A bill issued elsewhere in the South in the 1850s:
Bank of Utica, 1852:
Each bill tells a story about the city or state where it was printed. To read more about how the designs evolved, check out this cool infographic.