By Steve Carr
If you have something in your collection that gives you a personal connection, it is special. Maybe it was the first coin you ever received. Maybe it was a dollar from your first paycheck. If you collect currency, there is another way that can do this in spades – national bank notes!
National bank notes were printed to help solve a national challenge. During the Civil War, people hoarded most coins, even Indian cents, and there was a huge demand for more money to pay for the war. Commerce was stagnant. The government stepped in and Congress passed the National Bank Act of February 1863. Under this Act, a bank would be given a charter under the government, as opposed to an individual state. National banks were required to purchase federal bonds as part of this charter (this changed later). In exchange, the government issued currency, with the bank’s name on the face, to each bank when these bonds were deposited with the Treasurer. This almost doubled the amount of money in our economy.
One other provision of the National Bank Act was that the bank could only have its charter for up to 20 years. Later, extensions were provided by Congress. Since national bank notes were issued for 72 years, this led to the production of eleven different major types of national bank notes. These types are fairly easily identifiable and can make a neat set. The series date is printed on the note
These types are:
Original Series (issued 1863-1975)
Series of 1875 (issued 1875 – 1902)
Series of 1882 (issued 1882 – 1908)
Series of 1882 “date back” (issued 1908-1914)
Series of 1882 “value back” (issued 1914-1922)
Series of 1902 “red seal” (issued 1902-1908)
Series of 1902 “date back” (issued 1908-1915)
Series of 1902 “plain back” (issued 1914 -1929)
Series of 1929 “type 1” (issued 1929 – 1934)
Series of 1929 “type 2” (issued 1934-1935)
National Gold Bank Notes (issued in California only, 1870 – 1884)
For all but the Original Series, a series date appears on the face of the note.
Since the bank’s name and location was on the currency, this “local” flavor provides the personal connection. Is your first name represented? Mine is – the First National Bank of Stephen, Minnesota is scarce, but available, In addition, each note had a date, usually the date of charter or organization for the bank. Some interesting dates are known. The First National Bank of Clifton, KS (Charter #7178) is dated “Feb 29” while the Citizens National Bank of Ripley, OH (Charter #3291) has notes dated “Dec. 25” And what a neat way to celebrate your birthday - find a note with your birthday on it. I wrote about a $5 Brown Back note from the Citizens National Bank of Minneapolis, KS (Charter #4931) with my birthday on it. I passed on the note, but have been a little anxious ever since. Will another ever appear?
There are an unlimited number of ways to collect nationals. I will share a few of these next week. I have to warn you though – nationals can be addicting. Proceed at your own risk.