USA Private Banknotes

There was a time when there were banknotes issued by private banks. In fact, there are still some countries which allow this, such as Scotland, Northern Ireland, and in China Hong Kong still has banks that issue private notes. In the United States, the issues of banknotes started early on with the Colonies issuing notes, which naturally converted to state issues. After the Revolutionary War, Federal notes depreciated greatly in value, and the term “Worthless as a Continental Dollar” was prominent. As a result of the public losing faith in Federal dollars, private banks, railroads, and even businesses began issuing banknotes. In fact, according to the Professional Currency Dealers Association, there were well over 1,600 banks in the United States which issued over 300,000 varieties of banknotes.

This was all well and good, but there is the inevitable question of what happens when you try to spend a banknote issued from the state of Massachusetts in Georgia? And what happens when a local bank in New Jersey issues a note and you want to go to Chicago? Well you’d want to change your notes over to federal issued notes, or better yet, change them into coins, which were issued federally and were accepted all over. Just because it was a banknote, it wasn’t guaranteed to be worth anything to anyone other than the issuing bank, so the farther you got away from the area, the more your locally issued banknote could be discounted, as the receiver was unfamiliar with the issuer, and to exchange it was a bit of a pain. But the fact is, most people didn’t travel very often back then, and when they did, they didn’t go too far, so these notes circulated pretty well. Several of these notes exist, with many of them being un-issued remainders that were left in a vault somewhere. Those that were issued are often beat up from use. The US Government put an end to Privately issued banknotes in 1863, and they became known as “Broken Bank Notes”, “Wild-Cat Notes” or, more typically, “Obsolete Banknotes.”

10 Dollars 1808 Obsolete Currency “Farmers Exchange Bank, Rhode Island (uniface)”

1.25 Dollars 1807 and 1.50 Dollars 1809 Obsolete Currency Vermont State Bank

1 Dollar 1817 Obsolete Currency Jefferson Bank of New Salem, Ohio featuring Andrew Jackson

2 Dollars 1818 Obsolete Currency Mechanics Bank of Baltimore, Maryland

5 Dollars 1818 Obsolete Currency George-Town Bank, Kentucky

20 Dollars 1827 Obsolete Currency Franklin Bank, New Jersey

2 Dollars 1828 Salem and Philadelphia Mfg co New Jersey

10 Dollars 1835 The Lumbermens Bank, Warren, PA 

10 Dollars 1837 Obsolete Currency The Susquehanna Bank, Port Deposit, Maryland

2 Dollars 1838 Obsolete Currency Chippeway, Michigan

1 Dollar 1838 Obsolete Currency Sandstone Township, Barry, Michigan

5 Dollars 1838 Obsolete Currency Bank of the River Raisen, Monroe, Michigan

10 Dollars 1840 The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Co of Frederick, Maryland

5 Dollars 1846 Obsolete Currency “Havre de Grace, Maryland

1 Dollar 1852 Obsolete Currency Merchants’ Bank, Washington D.C.

3 Dollars 1852 Obsolete Currency Eastern Bank, West-Killingly, Connecticut

3 Dollars 1854 Obsolete Currency Fort Wayne & Southern Railroad Co.

5 Dollars 1854 Obsolete Currency Farmers’ and Merchants’ Bank, Memphis, Tennessee

5 Dollars 1855 Obsolete Currency The Farmers Bank, Wickford, Rhode Island

20 Dollars 1855 Obsolete Currency Exchange Bank, Norfolk, Virginia

1 Dollar 1857 Obsolete Currency The Citizens Bank, Gosport, Indiana

1 Dollar 1857 Obsolete Currency The City of Omaha, Nebraska Territory

10 Dollars 1858 Obsolete Currency The Bank of Commerce, Savannah, Georgia

5 Dollars 1859 Central Bank of Pennsylvania, Hollidaysburg

10 Dollars 1859 Obsolete Currency State Bank of South Carolina, Charleston

5 Dollars 1860 State Bank of South Carolina, Charleston

5 Dollars 1860 The Bank of Hamburg, South Carolina

1 Dollar 1861 Obsolete Currency Egg Harbor Bank, New Jersey

20 Dollars 1861 Obsolete Currency The Bank of Commerce, Savannah, Georgia 

5 Dollars 1863 Confederate State of Louisiana 

200 Dollars 1877 Obsolete Currency The Carson Savings Bank, Carson City, Nevada