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    

1929 $ 20 Ty 1 Williamsport Pa Serial # D000001a Pmg 631882-1908 Date Back $20 National Currency Note~wells Fargo-nv N.b. San Francisco1903 National Bank Note, $5 Fall River Massachusetts, Fr 587 3rd Charter, 1st Is$10 1882 Brown Back White Nb Fort Wayne In #4725 Pmg Ch Fine 15 Net - Very Rare1882 $10 National Currency Bank Of Yonkers Ny Note - Vg, Scarce Bill (231745g)$5 1882 Brown Seal The Shoe And Leather National Bank Of Boston, Ma - Fine1902 $5 American Nb Of Santa Monica. Pb. Fr# 609. Pmg Very Fine 25. Pinholes.$5 1929 The Fremont National Bank - Fremont, Nebraska - Pmg Choice Unc 63 Epq1872 March 2nd $20 State Of South Carolina Pmg 66 Gem Uncirculated Epq Rare 1902 $50 Sherman #2453 Marine Bank Of Baltimore Maryland Low #, Fine+, Wow!$10 1882 National Bank Of The Republic Of Chicago Note1882-1908 Date Back $10 National Currency Note-citizens Bank-natl Bk Warren, Pa1929 $20 Type One Citizens National Bank Of Big Run Pennsylvania Charter 5667$10 1902 Peoria Merchants Illinois National Currency Large Size Note Bill1929 Crisp $50 Type 1 Citizens National Bank & Trust Mansfield Ohio Charter 25771929 $5 Waynesboro National Bank Currency$20 1929 The Live Stock National Bank Of South Omaha Nebraska Pmg Abt Unc 55 Epq1902 $5 Charter #5172 The State National Bank Of St. Louis, Mo.Us $5 National Currency 1929 - Unc - Two Consecutive - National City Bank Of Ny1918 $2 Large Size National Currency Cleveland Federal Reserve L@@k LargeHaverhill Mass. National Bank Note, Series 19021929 $5 First National Bank Of Wichita Kansas Charter 2782 National Currency1862 $1 One Dollar Large Note-legal Tender Vintage Civil War CurrencyFnb Of Overbrook, Ks Ch#7195 $10 Vf/xf 19021929 $100 - Big Brown Seal - Frbn Chicago National Currency Ga Block Nice Wow!Canal National Bank Of Portland, Me Ch#941 $5.00 F 19021902 $5 National Currency Blue Seal~boston National Bank Large Note~plain Back1929 $5 Charter #2782 First National Bank In Wichita, Kansas.1929 $10 Type One State National Bank Brownsvill Texas Charter 122361929 $5 First Granite National Bank Of Augusta Maine Type 1 Bank Note1902 Series $5 (dollar) Bill, First National Bank Of West Palm Beach1902 Pb Merchants National Bank Of Muncie Indiana $5 National CurrencyAmerican Nb Of Helena, Mt Ch# 4396 $10 F (rare) $19021929 $20 Type One 1st National Bank & Trust Findley Oh Charter 36 Serial A0000031929 $5 Type One First National Bank Of Fairmont West Virginia Charter 138111902 $5 National Currency Port Chester Ny Note, Damaged Harrison Bill (231734g)Fnb Of Coudersport Pa Ch# 4948 $20 1929 Vf/xf Top Edge Cut Close1 Dollar Washington National Currency Cleveland Ohio Serie 19181929 National $20 T-2 Charter #12590 "hagerstown Md" Pmg 58 $100. 1929 The Merchants National Bank Of Cedar Rapids Iowa Ch. #2511 Vf1902 $10 Wheeling,west Virginia.ch.#1424.pmg-25Pmg Graded $10 1902 Db$20 1929 National Currency Type 2 1st Nb Of Commerce Ga Ch#7431 - Pmg Vf25Crisp 1929 $20 Type One Lackawanna National Bank Lackawanna Ny Charter 6964$20 The Merchants National Bank Of Clarksburg 1902 W. Va. Ch # 1530 F$10 The Union National Bank Of Clarksburg 1902 W. Va. Ch # 7681 Vf1929 $10 Type One First National Bank Cressona Pennsylvania Charter 93161929 $5 Type One Citizens National Bank Tippecanoe City Ohio Charter 8839Series 1902 $20 National Currency Note Chapman National Portland Free Shipping$5.00 1929 The Valley National Bank Of Chambersburg Pa. Ch. #4272 Very Fine1929 $10 National Currency - Federal Reserve Bank Of Cleveland, Ohio $10 1902 Central National Bank Of Topeka, Ks. Xf C# 42507American Exchange National Bank, New York City, $10 Series 1882$20 National Currency Note 1929 Minneapolis Minnesota Twenty Dollar Bill #1Series 1902 Holyoke National Bank, Ma. $10 Ch# 1939 F/vfGenuine Series 1902 $10 Shenandoah,pa National Bank Note.1918 $2 Two Dollar National Currency- Frb Kansas City- Good/vgLittle Falls New York National Bank Note, Series 19021929 $100 Federal Reserve Bank Note Of Minneapolis-national Currency Xf**beautiful** Gem/au++ $20 1929 Type-1 "washington, Pennsylvania" Ch#3383