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    

1914 Federal Reserve Note "new York" $50 - Pmg 30Series 1902 $20 National Currency Nb Of Commerce Kansas City, Mo Red Seal $10 1882 Hanover Nb, Ny, Ny National Currency Brown Back Pmg Vf 25 *no Reserve!$10 1902 Pb National Bank Note What Cheer, Ia Fr.624 - Pcgs Vf 20 *no Reserve!1902 $10 Mifflintown National Currency Banknote Juniata Valley Pa Ch# 5147 Bill1902 $5 Pb Saginaw Mi Ch. 1918 In Unc Serial 654601899 United States Silver Certificate $1 Large - Unc1896 United States $1 "education Note" Large - Ef1929 $10 National Currency Bakersfield Ca, Ch# 10357, Rare California Bank NoteSeries 1929 Type2 $10 National Note The Frostburg National Bank Of Frostburg, MdOld Georgia Classic! $10 1882 Date Back "third N.b. Of Atlanta, Ga" No Reserve 1902 $20 National Currency Mount Savage, Maryland1899 United States Silver Certificate $1 Large - Ef+ *** 1902 National $10.00 M A R L I N Texas ****1914 Federal Reserve Note "philadelphia" $100 - Aunc1929 $100 Fr-1890-g Frn Superb Gem,cga 67 Opq1922 United States Gold Certificate $20 Large - EfSeries 1929 Type2 $10 National Currency On The First National Bank Of Romney, WvSix - $10 National Currency Banknotes - 1929 Different Banks - $60 Face - A4871907 Farmers & Citizens National Bank Montgomery Pa $10 National Currency Note1910 $10 National Currency Alexandria1929 $5 National Bank Note; Lexington, Ky, Charter # 906, Pmg 65 Epq $10 Series 1902 National Banknote The First National Bank Of Navasota, TexasMinneapolis Trio! $20, $50 & $100 1929 Federal Reserve Bank Notes "no Reserve" Series 1929 Type1 $20 National Note Peoples National Bank Of Margaretville, NySeries 1929 Type1 $10 National Currency, The Second National Bank Of Cumberland$5 1929 Fr 1800-1 Farmers Deposit Pittsburgh Pa Pmg 64 Charter 685 1917 United States Of America 2 Dollars $2 Large - Aunc1929 $50 Dollar Bill,low Serial #,wow,old Paper Money,us Currency,ny Brown SealVfef 1929 $10 Dollar Bill Chicago Fr Bank Note Old Paper Money National Currency1917 United States Of America 2 Dollars $2 Large - Unc1914 Federal Reserve Note "kansas City" $5 - Ef1929 $10 T2 Bay City Mi Ch. 13622 Vf-xf Serial A0005385 Dollars Lincoln Philadelphia Pennsylvania Federal Reserve Bank 1929$5 Merchants National Bank Of Indianapolis 1902 PbShelbyville, In $100 1929 The Farmers National Bank Of Shelbyville, InExtremely Rare Series 1902 $10.00, National Currency Bank Note$10 Series 1902 National Banknote Pine Bush National Bank; Pine Bush, New YorkSeries 1929 Type1 $20 National Currency On The Farmers National Bank And Trust1917 United States One Dollar Note $1 Large - Aunc**stunning** High Grade $10 1929 Type-2 "los Angeles,california" Ch#24911929 $20 T1 Bay City Mi Ch. 13622 Xf-au Serial F000718aSeries 1929 $10 Dollar National Frb Of Kansas City *au*1929 Federal Reserve Bank Of San Francisco $20 Currency Note **no Reserve**$5 1929 The First National Bank And Trust Company Hudson ,new York Ch# 396 $10. 1902 P.b. Rare, The Security N.b Of Alexandria South Dakota Charter #101871918 Federal Reserve Bank Of New York National Currency Large Size $1 NoteTulsa, Ok $50 1929 First National Bank And Trust Company Of Tulsa, Ok$10. 1902 P.b. The Citizens N.b Of Paris Illinois Charter #6451$20. 1902 P.b. First -fond Du Lac National Bank Of Wisconsin Charter # 555$10 1929 The First National Bank Of Peterborough New Hampshire Ch# 1179 Ch-cu Ultra Rare 1929 Cleveland National Currency $5 Ohio Frbn ˜United States 1902 National City Bank Of St. Louis, Mo $20 Note Charter # 119891914 Federal Reserve Note "st. Louis" $5 - Ef1929 $10 T1 Elmira Ny Ch. 149 In Au Serial # F004017a$50 Small Size National Currency Series Of 1929 Brown Seal Kansas City Grant1902 $10 (2nd Title) Union National Bank Of Fremont Nebraska # 3188$60 Face - $10 & $50 National Currency Banknotes - 1929 - Pa & Ny Banks - A490Series 1929 Type 1 & Type 2 $10 National Currency1914 Federal Reserve Note "new York" $10 - Ef+