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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$1 Original Series 1st National Bank Lincoln Il Cga Gem 64* Opq Wonderful$10 1882 Brown Back National Currency American Exchange Nat. Bank Of Nyc - Vg1914 One Hundred Dollar ($100) Large Size Federal Reserve Note1865 $1 First National Bank Of Lewiston State Of Maine Currency$5 1882 Brown Seal National Bank Boston, Ma Note Fine$10 1882 Dated Back Tigerton Wi Vf/xf Pen Signed Dazzling Cherry Fully Original1928 Twenty Dollar ($20) Gold Certificate$5 1902 Brotherhood Co Operative Bank Portland Or Fine Union Bank1929 $10 National Note Ch#4287 "tucson" Arizona, Az1902 $10 Saint Clairsville,ohio.ch#315.pmg-351914 Large Size Five Dollar ($5) Federal Reserve NoteNational Banknotes Sparta Tennessee $10 1929 One Old Notef-vf1929 Type 1 Series First National Bank Of Winona Minnesota $10 Bank Note - Nr!1882 $20 First National Bank Emlenton Pennsylvania Pmg Very FineNational Banknote Boise Idaho $50 Corner Tip Missing,tear At Left Top & Pinholes1928 Ten Dollar ($10) Gold Certificate1929 Series $10 Note - Third National Bank Of Ashland Kentucky - Lot Of 3 - Nr!Michigan Insurance Bank Uncut Sheet Detroit Michigan Pcgs 53ppq*$20 1902 Ashland Ky Vg Toned$100 1929 Los Angeles Ca Fine Serial 961902 $20 National Bank Note Of Batavia, Illinois, Au Condition$20 1929 National Currency 1st National Bank & Trust Co Flint Mi Ch#10997 - AuSeries 1929 The Second National Bank Of Erie Pa $20 National Currency Note$2 Federal Reserve Bank Note, New York, 1918, Fr 751, Teehee-burke $10 1929 First National Trust & Savings Bank Of San Diego Ca Vf1929 Series $20 Miners National Bank Of Ishpeming Michigan Note - Type 1 - Nr!$10 1902 St Louis Mo F/vf Minor Stain1918 $1 National Currency Kansas City- Helm/miller- Fine Few Rev Stains1929 Type 2 $10 Paulsboro,new Jersey.national Bank Note.pmg-25$10 1929 Bank Of America San Francisco Ca Vf/xf$5 1929 T2 Holyoke Ma Nice Fine Scarce**ultimate/perfection* $20 1882 Brown Back #1461 "new York,n.y." Superb Gem 67pq1882 $5 National Bank Note Bb Ch# 2288 New To Census Rare Vf1902 $10 National Bank Note -brunswick, Missouri - Rare - $20 1929 First National Trust & Savings Bank Of San Diego Ca Fine1922 Fifty Dollar ($50) Gold Certificate$10 1902 Commercial National Bank Of Washington D.c. Charter # 7446 Choice XfLarge Size 1902 20 Dollar National Note Lacrosse Wisconsin Lightly Circulated1929 $5.00 The Boardwalk National Bank Of Atlantic City New Jersey #8800February 25 1903 $10 Note Second Issue First National Bank Of Cincinnati - Nr!1934 A Hawaii Five Dollar Note And A 1934 D Five Dollar Silver Certificate!! *uc* 1929 $10 Type 2 Jersey City, Nj National Note!!! Pcgs Very Fine 30 Ppq1882 $5 San Francisco,california.ch#5105.pmg-10Fr. 598, $5 Series 1902, The Old National Bank Of Fort Wayne, In, Ef Grade$20 1902 Philipsburg Pa Vf+$20 1902 St.louis Mo Vf/xf Bright & Fresh$5 1902 Date Back New York Ny Strong Fine No Reserve$5 1902 Bridgeport Ct Fine Repair In Right Margin**** 1902 $20.00 Norfolk Virginia National ****$20 Steubenville National 1929 Charter 2160 Great Eye Appeal1922 Ten Dollar ($10) Gold CertificateThe Old National Bank And Union Spokane Washington Charter 4668 Series 1929 Niagara County Nt'l Bank & Trust Co. Lockport Ny $10 Note1902 $5 Usa National Banknote The City National Bank Of Holyoke #m011929 Series $10 Note First Huntington National Bank Of Huntington West Virginia$20 1929 Battle Creek Mi Fine WritingRare Yellow $1 Dollar Bill Silver Certificate Series 1935a Signed Invasion BillReno Nevada $5 T2 National Bank Note Pcgs 58 Ppq1929 Series $100 Note Federal Reserve Bank Of Minneapolis Minnesota - No Reserve$5 1902 Telegraphers Bank St Louis Mo Vf Great Title