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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1914 Federal Reserve Note "philadelphia" $100 = AuncFr. 609. 1902 $5 Pcgs Au55 Ppq. Uniontown Nat'l Bank, Pa. 12500. No Reserve!Large 1902 $20 Dollar Bill Brookhaven Mississippi Currency1896 United States $1 "education Note" Large = Ef1880 United States Note $5 "large Red Seal" = Gem Unc**beautiful** $5 1902 Plain/back National Ch#4322 "austin,texas" Mid/grade ++$5 1929 First National Bank In Wichita Kansas Cga Gem 66* Opq Ks Beauty1865 Graded Large Size National Bank Note "dayton,ohio"**scarce** 11/known $10 1902 P/b National Ch#7093 "alexandria,va." Vg++/f$20 1929 American National Bank Of Pensacola Florida Cga 68* Opq Gem Cu1929 Circulated $ 50.00 National Bank Note, Butler, Pa. Type 1, Charter # 4374,1902 $10 Coalport Pennsylvania National Banknote Ch#6887 Pmg Choice Au58 Fr#6241929 Circulated $ 5.00 National Bank Note Lock Haven, Pa. Charter # 507 Type 11917 United States One Dollar Note $1 Large = Ef1918 Federal Reserve Bank "new York" $1 = Aunc$1 Original Series Alton Il National Bank Of Alton Illinois Pcgs Fine 15 $20-1929 Ntl. Currency- R 4-the First Ntl Bank & Trust Co. Of Huntington, NyTwo 1929 Indiana National Bank Notes: $5 Rushville And $20 South Bend!$10 1902db Bay State National Bank Of Lawrence Ma Pcgs Very Fine 30$5 1929 Greeley Union Nb Greeley Co Cga Gem Unc 65* Opq Go West Young Man$10 1929 Merchants And Miners National Bank Of Ironwood Mi Cga Ch Unc 64 Opq*Scarce Genuine Series 1902 San Antonio, Tx $50. National Bank Note.1929 Type 1 $20 Coshocton,ohio.national Bank Note.1969 Mpc United States One Dollar Series 691 $1 = Unc$20-1929 National Currency- R 4-the Wheeler National Bank Of Interlaken, Ny**rare** 4/known $10 1929 Type-1 National #1000 Ch#7807 "sabinal,texas" Vg++ $5 National Bank Of America At Pittsburgh Pennsylvania (from Old Collection)$5 City National Bank & Trust Company Of Gloversville, Ny (from Old Collection)1914 Federal Reserve Note "san Francisco" $10 = Ef$5 1929 National City Bank Of Evansville In Cga 65* Opq Excellent Quality1929 Circulated $ 10.00 National Bank Note Boyertown, Pa. Charter 2137 Type 11902 $10 Large Size National Fnb Of Medford Oregon Ch# 7701 $10 1929 First National Bank Of Toledo Oh Charter #91 Cga Gem Unc 66 Opq*1969 Mpc United States Five Dollars Series 681 $5 = AuncUltra Rare 1882 $20 Date Back National Currency Pmg Very Fine 20**low #80** $100 1929 National T-1 Ch#2584 "danville,illinois" Average/grade*uc* 1929 $20 Chicago Federal Reserve Banknote !! Pmg Choice Unc 64City National Bank Of South Norwalk Connecticut Five Dollar National CurrencyTwo Better $20 1929 Indiana National Bank Notes: Madison And Richmond!1929 - Grant - $50 Dollar - National Currency - New York - W/ Brown Seal Nr**scarce** $5 1902 Plain/back Ch#12380 "camp Hill, Pa." Low GradeR5-$20 1929 National Currency- The First National Bank Of Addison, New York1929 Philadelphia Pa 10 Dollar National Currency Brown Seal Bank Note1929 $10 National Note ~~chicago,il ~~almost Uncirculated1929 $20 National Currency Fed Reserve Chicago - Nice Circ Note - No Reserve1965 Mpc United States One Dollar Series 641 $1 = AuncUs 1929 $100 Hundred Dollar Bill National Currency Brown Seal Note New York, Ny$5 1902 Fr598 National Bank Note-peoria Xf+ Crispy Clean Lores National Currency-r5-$10.00-the Merchants National Bank Of Quakertown, Pa.R 5-$20 National Currency-the National Bank Of Wyalusing, Pennsylvania$5 1929 The First National Bank Of Tyrone Pa Pcgs Xf45National Currency-r5-1929-$10.00-the First National Bank Of Lawrenceville, Pa.1929 $10 Type 1 American National Bank Pensacola Florida Fl Ch# 5603 Note #2231929 $10 National Banknote-skowhegan Maine-fr# 1801-1 / Ch# 239-fine1929 $20 National The Us Nat'l. Bank Of Portland Oregon Ch#4514 Ty.11929 $20 Bank Of America National Trust And Savings Association San Francisco Dbr 1929 $20 T1 Saginaw Mi Ch. 1918 Vf-xf Serial D001059aEstate Found U.s. $5 1929 Ntl Bank Of America Paterson Nj National Currency1929 Philadelphia Pa 20 Dollar National Currency Brown Seal Bank Note$20 1929 First National Bank Of New Bethlehem Pa Very Fine