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    

1882 $5 Merchants National Bank Of Wadena, Mn - 4916 Brown Back Minnesota Note Honolulu Hawaii 1929 Bishop National Currency $5 Bank Note.Ultra Rare 1882 $20 Date Back National Only One In Existence1902 $10 Sistersville,west Virginia .pmg-40epq1918 $2 Frn- National Currency J Kansas City- Stains1929 $10.00 National Currency Note - The Gettysburg National Bank Gettysburg, Pa1918 $1 National Currency- Frb J Kansas City- Ink On Reverse$5. 1929 The Merchants And Planters National Bank Of Sherman Texas Charter #3159Fr#387 Original $2 "lazy Deuce" Nat'l Bank Note Of Kinderhook, Ny Rare Note!Chester, Pa. $20 1902 Pb. Fr. 650. The Chester Nb. Charter #2904. Pmg Vf 30 Epq$20 1929 First National Bank Of Coos Bay At Marshfield, Oregon! Two 1929 National Bank Notes -- East Chicago, Indiana And Lebanon, Kentucky! $50. 1929 B. Of A. National Trust & Savings Asso. San Francisco Ca. Ch. #13044#5 1929 $5 National Currency Note Fargo Nd Very Fine Bill Currency Rare1976 $2 Dollar Federal Reserve Note Original Bank Rapped 100 Pcs, No Reserve!1929 $10 Dollar Bill Federal Reserve Bank Note Old Paper Money National CurrencyDiamond Edge Shapleigh Hwd Co.dearborn National Bank Lawrenceburg Indiana Knife1929 $20 National Bank Of Crowley Louisiana (12523) - Type 1 - Low Serial # Rare$10 1929 The First National Bank Of Muscatine Iowa Cga 64 No Reserve$100. 1929 Minneapolis Brown Seal Federal Reseve Bank Note Extra Fine$10 U.s. National Bank Note-1929-first National Bank Of Chanute, Kansas1929 $20 Lincoln National Bank And Trust Company Of Fort Wayne Indiana #7725$5.00 1929 Cleveland Frbn Brown Seal Attractive Vf/xfNew York, Buffalo, Buffalo City Bank, 25 Cents, Nov. 20th, 1862Fr. 2004-h $10 Lgs 1934 Pmg Gem Unc 65 Epq St Louis Federal Reserve Note $10 1882 The American National Bank Of Pensacola, Florida$20 1882 Fr 553 Chase National Bank Note, Ny Pcgs Fine-12Dundee, Illinois. $10 1929 Ty. 1. Fr. 1801-1. The First Nb. Charter #5638. Pcgs 1929 Type 1 $5 Dennison,ohio. Ch#6843.national Bank Note.$5 1902 Fall River Ma Vg/f Excellent & Historic(3) $10 Dollar Bill Lot Us 1929 Series National Currency Ny Richmond Va Red Seal$10.1929 The Old National Bank Of Bluffton Indiana Charter #13305Fr. 2033-h $10 1999 Serial 99999997 Pcgs Gem 67 Ppq St Louis Federal Note Mount Holly, New Jersey Charter #1356 $20 1902 'date Back' Extra FinePhiladelphia, Pa. $10 National Fancy Serial # 000095 (1929 Type 2) Two 1929 National Bank Notes -- Washington, Dc And Wichita Falls, Tx! 1929 $20 Cleveland & 1902 $5 Uniontown, Pa National Currency BanknotesFr. 2002-h $10 Dgs 1928b Pcgs Gem Cu 67 Ppq St Louis Federal Reserve Note ToppopSeries 1918 $1 Dollar National From Frb Of San Francisco *vg/f*1929 $10 Peoria The First National Bank Of Peoria Illinois Currency Note Ch# 1765 Dollar Bank Of Norfolk National Currency Series Of 1929 Us National $5 Plain Back Rare Charter Santa Cruz County Bank 9745 High Vg$5 1929 First National Bank In Wichita Kansas…charter 2782…cga 64Morristown, New Jersey 1902 $10 National Charter # 1188 (morris County)$10 1902 Springfiled Il Vf Beauty1929 $100 Federal Reserve Bank Of Richmond Virginia "e" National Note - Vg/f1929 Five Dollar Type 1 National Currency…san Francisco…charter 13044…cga 581929 $20 Carnegie National Bank Carnegie Pa Type 1 Low Serial Number$10. 1929 T-ii The York County National Bank York Pennsylvania Charter #694 New#6 National Currency Note $10 Portland, In Bill Currency Very Fine Very Rare1902 Five Dollar National Currency Crocker First National Bank San Francisco Ca$20 1902 Chester Pa Fine$10 1902 Louisville Ky Vf+ Attractive $10 1929 Geneseo New York Ny National Currency Bank Note Bill! #886 1st Title!Siver Certificates, 1929 $20, And More 1929 T2 €1902 $20 The National Bank Of Harrisonburg, Va Virginia Charter 116941929 $20 The United States National Bank Of Omaha Nebraska National CurrencyVf 1929 $5 Republic National Bank And Trust Company Dallas,tx "12186" Low Serial1929 - $10 National Bank Note - San Francisco Cal !!!