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    

$20 Series 1929 National Banknote Whitewright, Texas No Reserve1902 $10 Nb Note The Fletcher American National Bank Of Indianapolis Pmg 25 Petersburg, Illinois! $10 1902 Db First National Bank National Currency Crisp NrRutherford, New Jersey Nj! $20 1902 Pb National Bank National Currency Bergen NrNystamps Old Us Twenty Dollars Miners National Bank Of Pottsville Pa RareBoston, Ma - 1875 $1 The People's Nb Of Roxbury -fr. 384 -ch# 595 -pmg Vf 20 NetU.s. 1917 $1 Legal Tender Banknote, Uncirculated, Fr-39, Certified Pcgs 64-ppq1929 $5 National Currency Note - Redwood City California - 7279 - No Reserve!1902 $10 Marine National Bank Of Buffalo New York Large National Currency Marion, Illinois $10 1902 Pb First National Bank National Currency Very Crisp Nr$20 Series 1929 National Banknote Jacksboro, Texas No Reserve1918 $1~large Size~national Currency Note -new York~almost Uncirculated~1902 $10 The First National Bank Of Cassopolis Pmg Choice Uncirculated 63epqNational Currency 1929t1 - $50 - First Nb And Tc Of Ford City - Ford City Pa.Louisville, Ky - 1929 $10 Ty.2 - Liberty Nb & Tc - Ch# 14320 - Pmg Ch Au 58 Epq1929 $5 National Currenct Note - Chico California - 13711 - No Reserve!$100 1929 Federal Reserve Bank Of Kansas City Missouri Star Note Pcgs 20$10 1902 Indian Head Bank Nashua Nh National Currency F/vf Corner Repair 1929 $50 Fifty Dollar National Currency Tulsa Oklahoma1902 $10 Marion National Bank Ohio Date Back Large National Currency U18 Us 1 Dollar 1935 Replacement Silver Ceritifcate Star Blue Banknote Currency $5 1902 Db National Bank Of Republic Of Chicago Il F/vfNational Currency - Charter # 5130 - 1929t1 - $50 - Ford City Btc Pa ..- F12National Currency 1929t1 - $10 - The Nb And Tc Of Spring City - Spring City Pa.$50. 1929 New York Brown Seal Federal Reserve Banknote Original Ch. Very Fine1929 $10 National Currency Note Marine Bank Of Baltimore Maryland $10 1929 First National Bank In Alma Kansas Low Binary Serial Number 40 Vf1929 $20 - Edwardsville Il. Nb & Tc, National Bank Note Charter #11039 Pcgs-vg81929 Five Dollar $5 National Currency Brown Seal- J Kansas City- Au1929 $10 National Currency Note - San Francisco California 13044 - No Reserve!1860 Farmers Bank Of Kentucky Franfort, Ky Five 5 Dollar Banknote ~ Uncirculated1929 Us Cleveland Ohio $100 100 Dollars Note Brown Seal D00067734 A1902 $20 First National Bank In Pontiac Michigan Large National Currency 1929 $50 National Currency Note - San Francisco California - No Reserve!1929 Five Dollar $5 Brown Seal National Currency- Kansas City- Au/unc$10 1929 Kansas The First National Bank Of Anthony Ks Vf Ultimate Gift For Tony1929 $20 National Currency Note - San Francisco California - No Reserve!Docs National Currency Federal Reserve Bank Of New York Series 1918 Nice Intact!1902 $20 The First National Bank Of Cassopolis Pmg Choice Uncirculated 63epq1899 $10 Perth Amboy Nj Bank Note Greenback Currency Blue Seal Rare Charter 5215$10 1882 National Bank Note Fr#484 Ch#4178 Pcgs Very Find 30$100.1929 Richmond Brown Seal Federal Reserve Banknote Original Very Fine1929 $10 The Macomb National Bank Macomb Illinois Type I 9169 1929 50 Dollar National Bank Note Vf Fr#1880-i, Minneapolis, Small Tear BottomRare Type 1 1929 $20 =bank Of Woodland Association Woodland Ca Charter # 10878Lincoln Nebraska Charter Banknote Ch#1798 Fr#1802-01 $20 Pmg Very Fine 301929 $20 National Currency Note - New York New York - No Reserve!1929 $10 "new York, Ny" Brn Seal Sml Bnk Note F Cond-- Uncertified/very Nice!!1929 $10 National Currency Note - St. Louis Missouri - No Reserve!1929 $5 National Currency Note - Philadelphia Pennsylvania - No Reserve!1929 $5 National Currency Note - Chicago Illinois - No Reserve!1902 Red Seal $5 First National Bank Of The City Of New York Ch # 29 $100 1929 Federal Bank Chicago National Currency Note Brown Seal Pmg Vf Epq$100.1929 Cleveland Brown Seal Federal Reserve Banknote Original Very Fine1923 $1 Silver Certificate Large Size Banknote Fr-238, Certified Pcgs-cu64-ppq1929 $100 New York National Bank Currency1929 $100 National Currency Bank Of Chicago Illinois!1899 $2 Bill, Horse Blanket Silver Certificate, Mini Porthole, Very Cool!Hgr 1902 $5 National ((gloucester Ma)) Awesome Grade$50.1929 San Francisco Brown Seal Federal Reserve Banknote Original Very Fine