National Bank Notes tell a great story. They helped transition the United States from the wild west of obsolete bank notes to the unified Federal Reserve Notes. Before national bank notes, towns had any number of banks issuing currency. Each bank would not only have a different design from another bank, but each denomination for a bank would have a different design. Therefore, with so many different designs, denominations, and banks floating around, there was no way to keep track of the many different currencies. This caused people to lose faith in paper currency as con-men would open up fake banks to print off and circulate fake money and running off with silver and gold deposits.
After the Civil War is when the National Bank Program was set in motion. The banks that wanted to continue as a National Bank had to purchase a set amount of Treasury Bonds. Once a bank purchased the treasury bonds, the federal government would issue notes to the National Bank for circulation.
At the beginning of the program national bank notes were large size, it wasn’t until 1929 that the national bank notes began to look like the money we have today.
During the time of the national bank note there was still quite a few different types of money in circulation. The federal government was printing its own money in the form of silver certificates, United States notes, gold certificates, and fractional currency.
Even though National Bank notes only lasted for a couple of decades, they helped unify the design of the currency of the United States.
National bank notes come in two different sizes: large size and small size. The large size bills were just a continuation of the same size of notes printed during the civil war. The small size notes are dated 1929 and are the same size as the notes currently in circulation. The national bank note’s defining characteristic is that each bank put its name on each bill along with its charter number.
Above is a small size Citizens National Bank in Zanesville Ohio dated 1929. These small size national bank notes with the brown seal are the final version and look very similar to the money the federal government prints today.
We have a lot of local history come through our shop but these national banks are some of my favorite.
Thanks for listening.