Fr 1800-1 Series 1929 National Bank Note
“Hometown” bank notes, such as the Fr. 1800-1 Series 1929 National Bank Note, or U.S. National Currency from the bank down on the town square are popular with collectors in all regions of the country. Often the buildings that housed these banks are still there, even if their current occupants are in a different business. In at least one instance a National Bank building has been converted into a coin dealer’s showroom, and its large vault into his on site security room.
- spec 1
- spec 2
- spec 3
- spec 4
- spec 5
- spec 6
- spec 7
Collectors often specialize in the notes of the towns with which they are familiar, such as the town they live in, grew up in, or were born in. Others may choose notes from interesting locales, or notes from a particular region or state. Fortunately there’s a lot of geography and notes to go around.
Many specialize in small size National Bank Notes, which were issued from 1929-1935. Like their older large size National Bank Note cousins, small size nationals have the name of the local bank on them, and the facsimile signatures of that local bank’s President and Cashier. Sometimes these persons were neighbors, or even members of the collector’s family, adding interest and excitement to collecting.
National Bank Notes were originally authorized by an Act of Congress Feb. 25, 1863. Their issue peaked in 1933, when about $900 million of these notes were in circulation. Issue ceased in 1935, when the bonds backing the notes were redeemed and notes recalled. By 1960 the volume of nationals reported in circulation had shrunk to approximately $50 million. Through the years many notes have been lost or destroyed. It’s very rare to see one in circulation today, unless one is spent when a collector dies and relatives don’t understand their collector value.
However, there are still plenty of Series 1929s to go around for collectors. Experts claim as many as 400,000 nationals still exist, approximately half large size and half small size. These are divided up among the various types, denominations, and banks of issue, so no one type is ultra common. Many specific issues are quite scarce, in fact.
Specialists in small size National Bank Notes have about 6,900 different banks from which to choose. Collectors recognize two types of Series 1929 small size nationals. Type I was issued from 1929 through 1933. More than 6,000 banks issued these notes. Distinctive features include bank charter numbers at either end on face in black. T1 notes were issued in six-note sheets with identical serial numbers, but with different prefix letters depending on the location of the note on the sheet, from A, B, C, D, E, F in descending order.
Not every bank that issued Type I notes also issued Type II Nationals. Still 4,400 banks did so. TIIs have a third bank charter number in brown to the top right of the portrait, and unique serial numbers for every note on a sheet. Largest issuer was New York’s Chase National Bank, which was named after the Secretary of the Treasury when National Currency was first authorized. The highest charter number to appear on a Series 1929 small size National is 14320.
Notes were issued in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 with portraits similar to those on Federal Reserve Notes: Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant and Franklin. If all denominations, types and signature varieties are totalled collectors have more than 20,000 different bills to chase after. Thus a theoretically “average” National Bank has about 10 small size notes available for collectors of all stripes.
Price is primarily dependent on the bank and its location. For most collectors, condition is a secondary consideration. This is especially true for rare banks. In many cases a well circulated note may be the last remaining vestige of its existence. When quantities of a particular bank’s notes exist, however, fresh appearing notes are definitely prized.
In addition to collectors of strictly “hometown” notes, high-powered state collections have been formed. Often when these collections appear at auction, the auction catalog becomes the best available resource for other collectors of the same material. Some pursue a note from each state and the District of Columbia.
Distinctive titles are also appealing. For example, the Lincoln Bank of Lincoln, Illinois, note shown here is a prized possession for a lucky collector. The city of Lincoln itself is distinctive as the only U.S. community that was named for Honest Abe during his lifetime by founders who sought out and received his blessing to do so.
Lincoln, IL is located in Logan County. The town was officially named for Lincoln on August 27, 1853. Lincoln was the lawyer of the railroad which created the town on the Chicago to St. Louis route, and he had assisted in laying out the community. In the most recent census, population was pegged at about 15,000. The community hosts an annual rail splitting festival in their namesake’s honor.
All small size Nationals have distinctive brown Treasury Seals and the facsimile signatures of U.S. Treasurer W.O. Woods, and Register of the Treasury E.E. Jones. Additionally, notes have facsimile signatures of the local bank officers.
On July 15, 1935, the final shipment of Nationals was sent to the FNB of Chillicothe, OH (Charter #128). The era of these “hometown bank notes” ended Aug. 1st when the Treasury recalled the last bonds with circulation privilege.
During the small size national note era, nearly 3,200 bank titles appeared on $5 notes of Type 1, and 2,700 bank titles appeared on notes of Type 2. Banks in each of the then 48 states, territories of Alaska and Hawaii, and District of Columbia issued each type. Volume of $5s was more than 170 million notes, totaling $851,146,935.
Due to many factors, pricing Series 1929 Nationals is not a simple matter in a short descriptive article. Confining ourselves to just the $5 denomination like the lovely Lincoln, IL note shown, values of $40-$100 can be expected. Since five dollar bills were heavily circulated, many can be graded no better than Fine. Crisp notes are worth a premium, and of course notes from scarce banks very desirable. Notes from Hawaii and Arizona are scarce and those from Alaska are rare.