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 $10 Db National Bank Note, The Columbia Nb, Buffalo, Ny Pcgs-35 Very Fine1882 $20 Db First National Bank Of Northfield Minnesota Nbn Ch#5895 Pmg F15 NetDocs Hard To Find $10.00 National Currency Series 1902 Bank Of America, Ny Nr! 1902 First National Bank Of Quinton Oklahoma $20. Blue Seal Charter #65171929 Long Beach California $10 Ten Dollar National Currency Brown Seal Note $10 Leeth National Bank Note Cullman 9614 3rd Issue Blue Seal Series 1902 F1918 $1 The Federal Reserve Bank Of Chicago National Currency ** *2 U.s. Natl. Bank Notes 1863 & 1865 Civil War Bank Notes $5 $1 Alton Il & Pa1902 $20 Bank Note, The First National Bank Of Beaumont, Texas (tx)1929 $20 Union National Bank Macomb Illinois Currency Note Ch#1872 Sn D000198aU S National Currency 10 Dollar Large Note 1902$20 National Bank Note, Edinboro, Pa Charter #7312$10 1929 Citizens Nb Waxahachie Tx Pcgs 65ppq Gem New$100 National Bank Oakland, California 1929, Low Serial No, Circulated Condition$20 1929 Portage Wi. Wisconsin National Currency Bank Note Vf+Fr.498 1882 $20 Brown Back First National Bank Of San Francisco #1741Series 1929 Hamilton National Bank Of Chattanooga, Tn $20 National BanknoteHgr 1929 $20 Scarce Minneapolis ((1of2 Consec#)) Pmg Vf-35epqNational Currency $10 1929-ii Coffeyville Kansas One Old Note Lower Grade TearHgr 1929 $20 Scarce Minneapolis ((2of2 Consec#)) Pmg Vf-35epqWtc Ny Twin Towers Ground Zero Recovery 1oz Silver Eagle Pgcs Gem Uncirc Yr 2000$5 American-traders National Bank Note Birmingham 7020 3rd Issue Series 1902 VgUsa 1st National Currency Of Faston Banknote $5 1902 Year "pennsylvania"Docs $100.00 National Currency Note Series 1929 Minneapolis, Mn Crisp Unc Nr!!Usa National Currency Banknote $20 1902 Year "alabama" ,7020 Seria$20 National Bank Note, Tunkhannock, Pa Charter #8351929 $10 United States Nb Of Denver Colorado Type I Ch #3269 National Bank Note Lemoyne Pa $20 National Bank Note, Berwick, Pa Charter #6162Wtc Ny Twin T 1991 Ground Zero Recovery 1oz Silver Eagle Pgcs Gem 1991 Rare DateSeries 1929 Frb Of Richmond Virginia $20 National Banknote$20 1929 Beaver Dam Wi Wisconsin National Currency Banknote1929 $20 The Second National Bank Of Cumberland Maryland Currency Note Ch# 1519 Docs $20.00 National Currency Series 1902 Db "the Bank Of California -difficult!U S National Currency 10 Dollar Large Note 19021929 $20 Crisp Union National Bank Of Youngstown Ohio Currency Note Ch# 135861929 50$ National Currency From San Francisco California!!! Starts @.99c$5 Fourth & First National Bank Note Nashville 1669 3rd Issue Series 1902 G1929 Twenty $20 Dollar Bill National Currency Philadelphia Penn Brown Seal$5 American-traders National Bank Note Birmingham 7020 3rd Issue Series 1902 G$10 Huntington National Bank Note Columbus 7745 2nd Issue Series 1902 G1927 $5 National Currency Note - San Francisco, California $20 1929 Sumner Iowa Ia National Currency Bank Note Low Sn# A00206a1902 $10 (the National Marine Bank Of Baltimore) National Currency E2453Docs $10.00 National Currency Bucyrus, Ohio Type 2 Approximate Xf Condition Nr!!1929 $10 2146 First National Bank Of East Liverpool Ohio Currency Note Ch. 2146Series 1929 $20 Type 1 National Banknote Second National Bank Of Warren, Oh 1929 Ten Dollar National Currency Note Bellmore New York1929 Ty. I $10 American National Bank Of Wausau Wisconsin Charter 474410 Dollars Hamilton National Bank Of St Louis Missouri 1929Series 1929 Frb Of Philadelphia, Pa $20 National Banknote$20 1929 Portage, Wi Wisconsin National Currency Bank NoteSteubenville Ohio $20 1929 National Banknote Pcgs64 Very Choice New Uncirculated 1929 Twenty Dollar National Currency Note Terrell Texas1902 $5 National Bank Note St. Louis Mo. Date Back 7715 Fr.590 No Reserve!1918 Series $1 National Currency .great Looking Piece Of Usa History 1929 $20 Dollar The National Exchange Bank Of Wheeling West Virginia#1929 $5 The First National Bank Of Wauwatosa Wisconsin Currency Note Ch# 8689$10 1929 National Currency Mahoning National Bank Youngstown Oh Ch#2350 - F Dets1929 $20 Federal Reserve Bank Of Atlanta( Georgia )