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National Bank Notes

National Bank notes are notes issued by a large number of banks, all (save some noteable exception) having the word National as part of their name. All national banks (there were more than 14,000 of them) could issue notes in their own name, secured by United States bonds deposited in the US Treasury. Most national banks used this possibility.

The notes does not have individual designs by bank, all notes issued in a period have similar designs, incorporating the name and locality of the issuing bank. In addition to signatures by the Treasurer and the Secretary of the Treasury, the notes have two signatures from the issuing bank (cashier and president). Design-wise, small-size national bank notes are similar to other types of small-size note.

Small-size national bank notes have the seal of the treasury and serial numbers and letters printed in brown.

For collectors, national bank notes are possibly the most interesting field of collecting. A collection can be built up according to geography, concentrating on a specific state or small number of states. Some banks or their names or locations are more remarkable than other, e.g. will notes from The Alamo National Bank of San Antonio or The First National Bank of Tomstone evoke memories of Davy Crockett or Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday, while The Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank of San Francisco reminds us of the Stagecoach. Modern super-size banks may be an amalgamation of a number of smaller banks, such a history could be documented through a collection of national bank notes. The possibilities for making some kind of thematic collection are numerous.

A natural item to collect for a collector of Norwegian banknotes. A National bank note of series 1929, type I, from The First National Bank of Norway.

Many banks were small, and from small communities, thus not issuing many notes. E.g. there are 5 National banks of Norway (Norway being 5 different communities) but the picture above illustrates the only such bank I've been able to lay my hands on notes from. The census shows some 50 small-size notes in excistence from this bank, I can only assume the other 4 banks are even smaller and their notes scarcer.

Kelly: National Bank Notes: A Guide with Prices is a necessary investment for anyone seriously collecting US National Bank Notes. Kelly lists all note issuing national banks, and give details of how many notes of each series and denomination has been issued, how much was outstanding in 1935 and how many large and small notes that are currently known to be in existence ("census"), with value estimates.

For the note pictured above, Kelly tells us that 6660 such 10 dollar notes were issued, but also that less than USD 50,000 worth of small-size notes totally were outstanding in 1935 (even less now) and that more than 50 small-size notes are known in the census.

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