National Bank Note Types - Original Series

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On February 25, 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the National Currency Act into law, which provided for the establishment of National Banks and a bond backed national currency. Each National Bank had a minimum capitalization of $50,000, and was required to purchase bonds which were deposited with the Treasury of the United States as security for its bank note circulation. The purchase of these bonds helped finance the Civil War. This bond-secured circulation protected note holders from loss, even if the issuing bank should fail. This replaced the poorly regulated system of State-chartered banks that issued currency with little or no security backing, which often resulted in people holding worthless bank notes if the bank failed.

The first National Bank Notes issued are called the Original Series, and were printed from 1863 to 1875. These beautiful notes have intricate historical and allegorical designs on the front, with reproductions of historical paintings in the U.S. Capitol on the back. Original Series notes were issued in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1000, with 24 different sheet combinations.

Following are front and back images of Original Series notes for each of the 9 denominations issued:

$1 Original Series issued by National State Bank of Burlington, IA. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,
$2 Original Series issued by National Bank of Newbury at Wells River, VT. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,
$5 Original Series issued by First National Bank of Winona, MN. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,
$10 Original Series issued by Third National Bank of Providence, RI. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,
$20 Original Series issued by Colorado National Bank of Denver, CO. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,
$50 Original Series issued by Government National Bank of Pottsville, PA. Courtesy of Stacks Bowers Auctions,
$100 Original Series issued by Raleigh National Bank of Raleigh, NC. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,
$500 Original Series issued by Appleton National Bank of Appleton, MA. (Only three $500 Original Series notes are known to have survived: two in government collections and one in a private collection) Courtesy of Wikipedia.
$1000 Original Series Proof for First National Bank of Salem, MA. (No $1000 Original Series notes are known to have survived. Shown is a Proof of what that note would have looked like) Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Return to An Overview of National Bank Note Types issued 1863-1935


  • Don C. Kelly, National Bank Notes, A Guide with Prices. 6th Edition (Oxford, OH: The Paper Money Institute, 2008).
  • Dean Oakes and John Hickman, Standard Catalog of National Bank Notes. 2nd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1990).
  • Peter Huntoon, United States Large Size National Bank Notes (Laramie, WY: The Society of Paper Money Collectors, 1995).
  • Wikipedia, National Bank Notes
  • The National Bank Note Census,
  • Heritage Auction Archives,