In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, the National Currency Act was signed into law by President Lincoln. One of the results of this legislation were National Bank Notes, which were issued by more than 14,000 banks, large and small, until 1935.

The system was relatively straightforward: For every $90 worth of U.S. Bonds that a bank would buy, the government would give them $100 worth of National Bank Notes to issue, each printed with the name of the bank on its front.

There were three 20-year "charters" in a variety of denominations, each of which had a different design. Among the most popular bills from the first charter, 1863 to 1882, during which 179 regional banks went national, is the Lazy 2, a $2 bill that features a very large, sideways, numeral two on the front of the note. The reverse side of a $20 bill from that period depicts Pocahontas being baptized; a $50 shows Washington crossing the Delaware.

The bills of the second charter, 1882 to 1902, are a little bit smaller than those of the first. Instead of acquiring these bills for their vignettes and engravings, collectors differentiate second-charter notes based on the type of back a bill has. The Brown Backs were, as the name suggests, brown, with the bank’s charter number printed in the center. Other bills had Date Backs (whose dates did not always correspond precisely to the duration of the second charter), while a third type had Value Backs, in which the value of the bill was spelled out in capital letters.

By the time of the third charter, 1902 to 1929, the bills began to look more like the money we were familiar with up until just a few years ago, when the design of U.S currency changed for the first time in decades. For example, five-dollar bills from this period bear an engraving of the Lincoln Memorial, as they do today. But the program of National Bank Notes was discontinued in 1935 due to the failure of many of the nation’s smaller banks during the Great Depression.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

American Currency Exhibit

American Currency Exhibit

This collection, from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, covers currency from 1690 through half a dozen era… [read review or visit site]

Bank Note Bank

Bank Note Bank

This world banknote and currency image-sharing database is notable for its breadth of contributors and content (abo… [read review or visit site]

Two Cent Revenue Stamped Paper

Two Cent Revenue Stamped Paper

Everything you'd ever want to know about revenue stamped paper (first authorized in 1862). This site features infor… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

**scarce** $50 1902 Plain/back "peoria, Illinois" Ch#3296 Pcgs Fine/12 Apparent**awesome** $10 1882 Brown/back Ch#779 "plymouth, Mass." Pmg Fine/12 Rare 2/known $100 1902 Date/back Oakland, California Ch#9502 G+/vg Nice/rare 1902 $50 "seattle, Wa Nb" Pb National Pmg Fine 12 Fr#678 No Reserve$1 1865 Auburn New York Rare Fine + $500 Certificate Of Deposit Same Bank SignedHgr 1902 $5 National ((datyon, Oh)) Awesome Grade Scarce $5 1902 Albuquerque, New Mexico Ch#11442 Low GradeHgr 1902 $10 Date Back St Louis ((phenomenal Artwork)) Awesome Grade*** Amazing 1929 $5.00 Dallas Fed Res Gem New 65ppq Wow ****Scarce 1902 Pb $10 Merchants National Bank Of San Diego, Ca Ch.4886 ~ Very Good+1902 U.s. $5 Dollar First National Bank Of Paris ,tennessee National Currency1929 $20 Banknote First National Bank Dallas Texas1882 Brown Back $5, Pmg 12 Net, Diamond Nat. Bank, Pittsburgh, Pa, Scarce Note1902 U.s. $5 Dollar First National Bank Of Sioux City, Iowa National Currency Scarce $10 1902 Plain/back Alameda, California G++1918 $1~large Size~national Currency Note -philadelphia~crisp Near Uncirculated~1882 $5 Brown Back Providence Rhode Island, Rare 4 Known. Ch13191929 Twenty Dollar $20 National Currency Banknote San Francisco Nice Brown Seal$20 1929 The First National Bank Of Waynesville Nc - 6554 1902-$20-the Union National Bank Of Sistersville,west Virginia-vf-25-35$10 1929 National Currency Saint Marys National Bank, Pa Ch#6589 - Vg$50 National 1929 East St. Louis Illinois Charter 115961929 Usa Milwaukee National Banknote - 20 Dollars Note !Series 1929 Fbr Of New York, Ny $10 National Bank Note1902 $10 First Wisconsin National Bank Of Milwaukee Pmg 25Trio Of Small Town Tennessee National Banknotes (jackson And Johnson City)Texas National Banknotes: Mart, Tx #5850 And Olney, Tx #12676 No Reserve$10 1929 National Currency Homer City National Bank, Pa Ch#8855 - Vg$50 Dixon Illinois National Charter 18811929 $10 National Currency Federal Reserve Bank Of Atlanta$10.00 Peshtigo National Bank NoteDocs Hard To Find $1.00 National Currency Note - Federal Reserve Bank Of Ny 5 Da1929 $10 National Currency Bank Of Los Angeles Ch#2491 #e094757a (ls4)$10 National 1902 San Francisco California Charter 1741$10 1929 National Currency 1st National Bank & Trust Hamburg Pa Ch#9028 - Vg$10 East Tennessee Knoxville National 1902 Charter 2049 Plain Back$50 South Bend Indiana National Charter 4764$5 Union Knoxville Tennessee National 1902 Charter 10401 Great Eye Appeal$5 National 1902 Turners Falls Charter 2058 Massachusetts Pb$5 Spartanburg South Carolina National Charter 4996 Photos Of An Okanogan 1st Nat Bank Wa State $5 Note Series 1902$20 National 1929 East Liverpool Ohio Charter 21461929-$20-the National Bank Of Keyser West Virginia. Fine-25+type Ii NationalEstate Found Us 1929 Bedford National Bank Indiana $5 National Currency Note$10.00 1902 Union National Bank Of Philadelphia Pa Charter 563 No Reserve National $10 The Fnb Of Virginia, Minnesota Vg Scarce! * Avenuecoin$20 National 1929 Toledo Ohio Charter 91$10 National 1929 Odebolt Iowa Charter 4511$5.00 1902 Diamond National Bank Pittsburgh Pa Charter 2236 No Reserve $10 National 1929 Muscatine Iowa Charter 15771929 United States $20 Dollar The First National Bank Of South Bend Indiana 1929 $20 National Currency Bank Of Los Angeles Ch#6617 #a003548a (ls10)$10 Augusta Georgia National Charter 1860Usa National Currency Federal Reserve Bank Cleveland Ohio, 1929, 5 Dollars, Fine1929 U.s $20 Dollar Federal Reserve Bank Of Minneapolis Minnesota National Note ** 1929 $100.00 Fed Res Note Dallas Texas Rare ****$50 1929 National Currency 1st National Bank Of Oklahoma City, Ok Ch#4862 - Fine$20 1929 National Currency Emaus National Bank, Pa Ch#7139 - G - Low Serial $20 1929 National Currency 1st National Bank Of Exeter, Pa Ch#13177 - Vg1929 $50 Cedar Rapids, Iowa National Currency Banknote - Charter #2511