In 1913, Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act, which created the Federal Reserve, established Federal Reserve Banks, and adopted Federal Reserve Notes (the stuff in our wallets that we call money) as the nation’s official currency.

One of the options given to Federal Reserve Banks was the ability to issue their own Federal Reserve Bank Notes that could be used as legal tender but were only redeemable at the originating Federal Reserve Bank—until 1933, these notes were redeemable in gold. The first of these notes, dated 1915, were similar in design to the larger-size bills of the day, sharing graphic elements from National Bank Notes.

The backs of these notes are particularly handsome, making them much collected. The so-called "Battleship $2" from 1918 features Thomas Jefferson on the front and the Battleship New York on the back. Ten-dollar Federal Reserve Bank Notes from 1915 are printed with the same engraving of a horse-drawn reaper facing a factory as the Federal Reserve Notes from that year. But on the fronts of all Federal Reserve Bank Notes is the name of the bank issuing the note.

After issues in 1915 and 1918, the notes went on hiatus until 1933, when smaller, Series 1929 notes were printed as emergency currency during the banking crisis that accompanied the Great Depression. These notes had brown seals and the name of the issuing Federal Reserve Bank on their fronts.

One especially odd detail about these notes is the clumsy way in which the word "President" in the lower-right corner of the bill was blacked out (in some cases not even completely). The word was supposed to go below the signature of the head of the issuing Federal Reserve Bank, but Federal Reserve Banks have governors not presidents, so "President" was blotted out and unceremoniously replaced by the word "Governor."


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