Fantasy banknotes are not produced by governments. Although they may bear a resemblance to real currency, fantasy banknotes are intended for commemoration, promotion, or appreciation. Since they are privately issued, they hold no legal status. Private issues are currencies issued by private entities like individuals, businesses, nonprofits, or decentralized organizations.

In some countries, issuing private paper currencies or minting metal coins for use as a currency is considered a criminal offense. Currently, there are over four thousand privately issued currencies in more than 35 countries, including barter credits, private gold and silver exchanges, local paper money, computerized credit and debit systems, and circulating digital currencies like digital gold currency.

During the 19th century, company scrip emerged as a prevalent form of private currency issued by employers to their employees. This currency could only be exchanged in company-owned stores, which was particularly common in mining towns that lacked access to other economic activities due to the industrial revolution. 

Transportation providers like canal, turnpike, and railroad and ship companies also issued currency. Coal mining and lumber companies issued a form of currency called scrip to compensate workers. Furthermore, merchants, farmers, and community groups created their own currencies. These private currencies served specific purposes not adequately addressed by government-provided money, such as facilitating small transactions, enabling exchange in remote areas, and providing a means of exchange during financial crisis.