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.


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1918 $1~large Size~national Currency Note - Chicago~almost Uncirculated~1918 $1~large Size~national Currency Note - New York~uncirculated~$10 1882 Dundee Il Pcgs 10 Problem Pen Signed Date Back1902 Pb $20 Bank Of Italy, California Nt & Sa Pcgs-15 Charter #13044 Fr.#661Fr. 2001-h $10 1928a Pmg Gem Unc 66 Epq St Louis Federal Reserve Note $20 1902 The National Bank The Cedar Rapids Ia Pcgs 25 No Reserve1902 Pb $5 First National Bank Of Elmore, Mn Pmg-20 Charter #5377 Fr.#607$10 1882 The National Bank Of Commerce Of Norfolk Cga 25 No Reserve1902 $10 Bristol,tennessee.ch#2796.pmg-62epq$20 1929 The East Side National Bank Of Buffalo Ny No Reserve1929 $10 National Banknote Federal Reserve Boston, Ma Pcgs Graded Au 50ppq$20 1929 The National Bank Of Pensacola Fl Cga 69*opq No Reserve$50 1929 National Bank Of Houston Texas Vf No Reserve1929 $20 First National Bank & Trust Co. Springfield Ohio Currency Note Ch# 2381882 $5 National Currency Cleveland Oh Ch#3545 Euclid Ohio Brown Back Bank Note1929 $10 First National Bank Saint Paris Ohio Currency Rare T2 Bank Note Ch 2488$10 1902 Second National Bank Of Saginaw Vf No Reserve Nice Mid/grade $5 1902 Date/back Ch#7715 St.louis Awesome Note$50 1929 San Francisco California National Currency Bank Note Bill! #13044 Ty 2Scarce Vintage 1929 $5 Five Dollar Bill National Bank Note Rising Sun Indiana$5 Lg National Banknote City National Bank Ridge Farm Il Illinois - Ch 8630 - Vf$20 1929 The University National Bank Of Seattle Washington Fine No Reserve$5 1929 The Farmers Nb Geneseo Il Pcgs 35ppqF 1800-1 $5 National Bank Note Pcgs 64ppq, Greeley Co CurrencyVintage 1929 $10 Ten Dollar Bill National Currency Bank Note Elkhart Indiana$10 1929 The Telegraphers National Bank Of St Louis Missouri VfLouisville, Ky - $10 1902 First National Bank - Red Seal - Fr. 613 - Ch.# (s)1091882 National Currency Bank Of Commerce Cleveland Ohio $5 Note 2662$10 1929 Grange National Bank Of Mckean County At Smethport, Pa! 1899 $5 National Bank Note Wilmington, Nc- Scarce.$5 1929 National Bank And Trust Copany Auburn Ny Fine Edge Damage No Reserve1929 Ten $10. Dollar National Currency Note New York Cohoes1929 $10 Second National Bank & Trust Saginaw Michigan Currency T-2 Note Ch 1918The First National Bank Of Canonsburg Pa $10 Large Note Series Of 1902 **fine**$20 1902 The City National Bank Of Glaveston Tx Very Fine20 Dollar Note Series 1928 Gold Certificate1929 $20 Brown Seal National Banknote Federal Reserve Bank Minneapolis Mn1929 $10 First National Bank & Trust Co. Springfield Ohio Currency Note Ch# 236The First National Bank Of Calumet Michigan Type 1 34571929 Type 2 $10danville,virginia Ch#1985.national Bank Note.Wtc Ny Twin Towers Ground Zero Recovery 1oz Silver Eagle Pgcs Gem Uncirculated1929 $20 Fidelity National Bank Trust Kansas City Missouri Currency Note Ch11344Us 1929 $20 St. Helens Oregon National CurrencyF $5.00 1902 New Orleans Louisiana Whitney Central National Bank Note Currency$10 1929 Type Ii Sacramento, Ca National Bank Note -- Ch. #10107 1929 $10 First National Bank Pikesville Kentucky Currency Rare Bank Note Ch 6622The First National Bank Of Ironton Ohio Oh $10 Ten Dollar Large Size Note 19021902 Pb $5 Brotherhood-cooperative Tacoma, Wa Pcgs-12 Charter #12667 Fr.#609F 1800-1 $5 National Bank Note Pcgs 63,choice New, Greeley Co CurrencyPittsburgh Pa $10 1902 Plain Back Fr. 624 National Bank Note Bill $5 1929 The National Bank Of Tyrone Pa Pcgs 401929 $10 4744 American National Bank Of Wausau Wisconsin Currency Note Ch# 47441929 Cleveland Ohio National Federal Reserve $50 Note Low Serial #1902 $20 Pb National Currency Detroit, Mi Ch# 10527, Scarce Michigan Bank Note1929 $5 Brown Seal National Currency! Chicago !old Us Paper Money Currency!1929 $10 National Currency Columbia Bank Of Dayton Washington Ch# 27721902 $5 Large Size National Currency American Bank Pendleton Oregon1929 $100 National Banknote Type 1 The Nb Of Commerce Of Seattle, Wa Ch #4375Fr# 587: 1902 $5 National Union Bank Of Boston; Charter # 9851902 $20 First National Bank Birmingham Note Bill Fr # 642 Second Issue Pa