WWII Impact on Fashion

From Victory Gardens to gasoline rationing, a lot of sacrifices were made on America’s “home front” during World War II. It may surprise you to know that rationing even impacted the world of fashion!

Before the War, silk stockings were a necessary part of every woman’s wardrobe.  No decent woman would be seen in public without her hose and stockings.  In 1938, during the New York World’s Fair, nylon stockings were introduced to the world for the first time.  Hitting the market on May 14th, 1940, every woman needed a pair and rushed in to buy them by the millions!  They were so immediately and widely popular that 75,000 pairs were sold in their first day of release.  After only a year, 64 million of them sat in drawers and closets across America.  They quickly became an integral part of any classy woman’s daily attire.

Stamp & Coin Place Vintage Ads

Stamp & Coin Place Vintage Ads

Affordable, long-lasting and wrinkle-free, the nylon stocking nearly stopped the production of previous hosiery in its tracks.  During the War it turned out that the men needed them more than the women did!  Nylon was found to be the perfect material for manufacturing parachutes and supplies for our troops.  Raw silk was also seized by the Office of Production Management, causing a very limited supply to be sold while reluctant women had to purchase their nylon stockings for $10 a pair.  Supportive of American efforts, women across the country were called upon to give up their stockings to the effort.

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Because of the huge shortage of stockings, the women back home had to make do.  While some went around bare-legged, reserving their last pair of stockings for special occasions, treating them with immense care, others began faking it.

Nylon stockings were such a style symbol at the time that it seemed graceless to go on with out them.  Many women began penciling in lines on their legs to recreate the appearance of stockings using eyeliner or an eyebrow pencil.  These “drawn on stockings” were normalized so that cosmetic companies such as Max Factor began manufacturing “liquid stockings” which could be drawn on and look great for three days (if you didn’t shower).  Rain became a challenge of its own!

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Through the sacrifices of the War, fashion never failed.  As the War came to an end and rations were eased, nylon found its way back to thousands of longing women crowded around stores to snag a pair.  Helen Beaubier recalls that “after the War was over [she] heard Penny’s had nylon stockings”.  She remembers: “I ran out of the house and was going to run down to the store and get nylons and I got a pair and they were thick and they wouldn’t stay up; they were…just awful those first nylons that came”.  In Pittsburgh, 40,000 women formed a mile-long line competing over just 13,000 pairs.  This became known as the “Nylon Riots” of 1945.  The invention of lycra, in 1958, finally put a rest to the nylon craze, but goes to show that “in difficult times, fashion is always outrageous.” (Elsa Schiaparelli)

We’d love to hear your personal experiences with rationing during the War!  Please share with us on our Facebook or Twitter!

The 1943 Steel Cent

On December 7, 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbor, America was launched into WWII.  As the war intensified, more resources were required to keep our military going.  One of those resources was copper.  The increased need of copper for military use, meant less of it for use in other areas of manufacturing, including coins.  The result: The Steel Lincoln Wheat Cent.

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In 1942, after several attempts at getting the public to turn in all their pennies, public law 77-815 was passed which allowed the use of metal substitutes for both the Lincoln cent and Jefferson nickel.  The Lincoln cent, at the time, was made of a bronze alloy which consisted primarily of copper, around 12% tin and trace amounts of other metals.  These substitutions were to last no longer than December 31st, 1946.

The first order of business was to halt the production of the Lincoln cent until a different metal could be found that would suffice.  The winner: low-carbon steel coated with zinc. The zinc plating was added to prevent any rust.

Although now silver in color, the images and diameter of the coin remained the same.  The only other difference was the weight.  Because steel weighs less than copper, the coin went from the standard weight of just over 3 grams, to closer to 2.75 grams.

The Philadelphia mint was the first to produce the new steel cent on February 23, 1943, with Denver and San Francisco following the next month.

It didn’t take long for the public to start complaining.  “They look like dimes!”, they said.  Complaints poured into the treasury from all sides.  Vending machine companies were upset because their machines mistook the new coins for slugs (counterfeits) because they were magnetic and underweight.

The Treasury Department definitely heard the complaints and by fall of 1943, they were back to the drawing board.  This time they decided to use an alloy similar to the pre 1943 coins, minus the tin.  In fact, most of the metal used came from the spent brass shell casings coming back from overseas.  The public called these cents “shell-case cents” and they were better received than their counterparts. They were minted until 1946.

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After the war, the Treasury recalled all the “steelies” in circulation and by the 1960’s, it was much harder to find them in circulation.  A total of 1,093,838,670 steel cents were produced in 1943.  After the recall, it is estimated that 930 million remained in circulation.  It is not completely uncommon to find steel cents to this day.

From a collecting stand point, two interesting and highly valuable varieties were created during this time, both by accident.  In 1943, when they started making steel cents, a few copper planchets were left in the presses, resulting in a copper/steel mix.  These coins are darker in color because of the copper.  Only 40 are thought to exist, with only 12 being known to the public.  One sold in 2004, for $200,000.

1943 Copper Cent

1943 Copper Cent

A similar error occurred when the switch from steel alloy was made to the brass alloy.  These 1944 Steel Cents are more silver in color and are also magnetic because of the steel.  It is not known exactly how many were minted, but it is estimated to be fewer than the 1943 Copper cent error.  One sold in 2008 for $373,350.

1944 Steel Cent

1944 Steel Cent

Although we do not have any of the error cents, we do have a lot of steel  cents available on both our website and Ebay. While they are not the most beautiful or most practical coin, they represent a vital piece of American history.  Consider adding some to your collection today!

The V.D.B Controversy

On August 2, 1909 people began lining up to get their hands on the freshly minted Lincoln Cent that was to replace the Indian Head Cent.  There was such demand for this coin because it was the first American coin to feature a real historical person on its obverse, and Abraham Lincoln at that (see our previous blog “The Lincoln Wheat Cent”).  Three days after the coin’s release, it was pulled back off the presses amid controversy about the size of the artist’s initials on the reverse. Although no one really knows for sure what happened, there has been much speculation about this event.

From the day Victor David Brenner was tasked by President Roosevelt to redesign the penny, Chief Engraver Charles Barber had an issue.  Barber did not like the idea of working with an outsider who had nothing more than sculpting experience. Some say Barber was jealous because Brenner’s design was selected over his own.

In June of 1909, the final design was approved by both Barber and Treasury Secretary Franklin MacVeagh, including approval of the initials V.D.B along the bottom of the reverse.  In fact, Barber encouraged Brenner to include his initials and refused to let him use a more discrete “B” placed somewhere else.

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The day of the coin’s release, rumors started circulating about the placement of the initials.  Some believe a jealous Barber went behind Brenner’s back and began accusing him of being too vain.  Because Brenner was paid for his work, he should not have felt the need to put his initials in such a prominent place on the coin, if at all.  Others have said it was the public that raised a fuss because the initials were simply too big.  Another group of people felt the whole discussion was ridiculous. Adding the artists initials to a coin was a long standing tradition, dating back to ancient Greece.  In fact, the latest gold piece designed by Augustus St. Gaudens and released in 1907 had his initials in the field, on the reverse.

Regardless of the facts, the coin was pulled off the presses on August 5th until a compromise could be struck. Either the initials could be removed all together, the V and D could be removed, simply leaving the B, or the V.D.B could be moved to a more discreet location.  Despite objection from Brenner, the first option was selected as Barber argued any of the other options would take much too long.

During the halt in production, rumor spread that the government was going to recall all the pennies with the V.D.B initials. This caused a bit of a craze as people began hoarding the already in demand coin.

On August 12, 1909 the Lincoln Cent hit the presses once again, this time with no initials, and by the end of the year, supply had finally caught up with demand.

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Barber passed away in 1917 and the issue of the initials was revisited shortly there after.  In 1918, the initials V.D.B were restored to the coin, this time on the obverse, at the bottom of the Lincoln bust, near the rim of the coin.  They remain there to this day.

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Not only did this controversy affect the general public, but the coin collecting community as well.  While there were 28 million 1909 V.D.B cents minted at the Philadelphia mint, there were only 484.000 minted in San Francisco.  These 1909 S V.D.B cents became very popular and still are, selling for several thousand dollars a piece in mint condition.

Image courtesy of CCF Numismatics [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of CCF Numismatics [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Check out all the Lincoln Wheat cents we have available on Ebay and our website and see if you can spot the 4 different varieties:

1909 V.D.B with no mint mark (minted in Philadelphia)

1909 S V.D.B (minted in San Fransisco-highly collectible)

1909-1917 with no initials

1918-1958 discrete V.D.B on the bottom of Lincoln’s bust

The Sense behind the Cent

The American Revolutionary war was officially ended by Congress on April 11, 1783. It is estimated that America had around 3 Million people in it at the time, all from various European countries.  All these people brought with them the culture and tradition from their native lands and the great melting pot was born.  Along with ideas and traditions came various units of trade.  If you could pop back to this time in American history, you would find coins from all over the world being used for trade.  Each coin had its own value, look and weight.  Imagine the confusion this would cause.  It was soon clear that this country needed its own unit of trade, one that was uniform and would be recognized by anyone.  And so the penny was born.

Designed by Benjamin Franklin, the first penny was called the fugio cent.  It was privately minted from 1787 to 1793 and made solely of copper.  The obverse featured the sun shining down on a sundial with the caption “fugio” (I fly or flee) on one side.  The bottom says “Mind your business”.  The reverse shows 13 interlocking rings meant to represent each of the 13 colonies with the words “we are one” in the center.

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From here, a series of what we now call large cents were produced from 1793 to 1856.  Here is a list of the different large cent varieties they made:

Flowing Hair Cent (1793)

Liberty Cap Cent (1793-1797)

Draped Bust Cent (1796-1808)

Classic Head Cent (1808-1814)

Coronet Cent (1816-1857)

Matron Head Cent (1816-1839)

Braided Hair Cent (1839-1857)

No pennies were made in 1815 because of the war of 1812 and the shortage of copper that resulted.

By the mid 1800’s, these large cents were quickly becoming unpopular in commerce and expensive to mint.  These coins were large and became heavy to pack around.  Also, due to inflation, the price of copper started rising so that it was now costing more than 1 cent to make a penny. By 1850, pennies were no longer profitable to mint.

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In 1856, the flying eagle cent came into circulation (pictured above).  This coin was much smaller than its counterpart and was made of only 88% copper.  The other 12% was nickel, which was a much more affordable metal.  To get these new “small cents”, people could exchange their large cents or other worn foreign silver.  So many flying eagle cents were made that they quickly overwhelmed the system.  They were not considered legal tender and therefore banks and other merchants did not have to accept the coins. Flying eagle cents were only minted for three years.  The eagle design did not strike well and it was replaced by the Indian head Cent (pictured below).

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The Indian head cent was minted from 1859-1909. Most of these coins were minted to pay union soldiers during the Civil War. After the war, in 1864, its composition was changed once again to be 95% copper and 5% zinc.  Also in this year the Coinage act of 1864 was passed.  This act made the one cent coin legal tender and now merchants and banks across the country had to accept them.

In 1909, to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday, the design on the penny was changed once again.  Commonly known as the wheat cent (pictured below), this coin featured a profile view of Lincoln on the obverse and a pair of wheat ears circling the words “one cent” on the reverse  Lincoln was the first historical figure to be used on a US coin and his picture remains on the penny to this day.

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Although its design has changed many times, the purpose of the cent remains the same. It was not only our first official coin, but it helped shape our nation.  Check out all the different cents we have for sale on Ebay and our website and stay tuned for more about the infamous wheat cent

Hobo Nickels

Although the Buffalo Nickel had it’s fair share of issues during it’s time in circulation from 1913 to 1938 (see our previous entry), one arena where it found nothing but popularity was among artists.  One form of art as unique as the individuals that made them are Hobo Nickels.  Created mostly by transient people, Hobo Nickels were essentially coins turned into pieces of folk art.  Engravers would alter the obverse (face) of the coin,  to resemble their own face or that of some other character, and then change the reverse of the coin to resemble an animal. This type of art is not only extremely unique, but it encapsulates a period of time defined by struggle, hard work, creativity and survival.

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Coin engraving dates back all the way back to the 18th century, when engravers used to turn any of the Seated Liberty coins into “potty coins” by modifying lady liberty so that she appeared to be sitting on a chamber pot.  Most of this art was found outside the US in counties like Britain, France and South Africa.

The arrival of the Buffalo NIckel in 1913 brought this form of art to the United States.  The nickel was the perfect medium because it was thicker and harder than other coins in circulation and the Native American’s head was much bigger than the faces on the other coins.  This gave engravers more room to work and allowed for finer details.

In the 1930’s, as a result of the depression, this form of artwork flourished.  Thousands of men were out of work and spent their days traveling the railroads, looking for work.  These people, commonly called “Hobos”, considered themselves far different from the “bums” and “tramps” of their time.  Hobos were a nomadic group of people who worked hard when work was available, stayed out of trouble and considered themselves to be free spirited.  They were also called “knights of the road.” The small, round pieces of art they created were often traded for food, shelter or other necessities.

Creating a hobo nickel was no small feat.  It was not uncommon for a single piece to take up to 100 hours to complete.  Artists used things like nails. chisels and knives to carefully construct these pieces of art.  No one coin looks the same.

Although most of the hobos creating these nickels preferred to stay anonymous, a few names have surfaced over the years. Probably the most famous of these was George Washington “Bo” Hughes.  A nomadic man from an early age, Bo met a man by the name of Bert during his stay at a “jungle” (the term commonly used to describe a hobo camp).  Bert was a craftsman and taught Bo the art of engraving and altering coins.  He caught on quick and began churning out coins left and right.  His coins stood out among the many being created at the time because his designs were more innovative than other artists and he was not afraid to experiment with his technique.

In 1957, Bo Huges had an accident involving a chisel, rendering his hand nearly unusable.  That combined with years of hard, physical labor brought his career to an end. He did continue to carve Hobo nickels to the extent that he was able until his death in 1982.

It is estimated that around 100,000 hobo nickels were created during their hay day, by various artists. On average, original Hobo nickels sell for between $100 and $400, but a few have sold for as much as $3000.

Today, artists continue to create Hobo Nickels, although their history is not the same. Power tools have replaced nails and knives and the subject matter has changed to include popular modern characters and themes.  It is estimated that the number of modern Hobo nickels (created after the 1980’s) will quickly surpass the number of classic ones. They are no longer traded for goods or created by the idle hands of hard working men out of work and travelling the railroads.  The art form lives on, but the story has changed.

Who is the Native American on the Buffalo Nickel?

Minted from 1913 to 1938, the Buffalo nickel (also called the Indian Head Nickel) was designed to be a truly American coin, one that could not be mistaken for belonging to any other country. The reverse features a profile view of the American Buffalo. The model for the buffalo was a bull named Black Diamond, who resided at the Central Park Zoo in New York City. On the obverse of the coin is the right facing, profile view of a Native American warrior with braided hair and a ribbon. While no doubt an image that represents the history of America, who was the man used as the model for this coin?

By 1935_Indian_Head_Buffalo_Nickel.jpg:Bobby131313 at en.wikipedia derivative work: Wehwalt (1935_Indian_Head_Buffalo_Nickel.jpg) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

The coins were first put into circulation on February 22, 1913 at a groundbreaking ceremony for the National American Indian Memorial that was slated to be built on Staten Island in New York. After dismal fund raising efforts led by well known retailer Rodman Wanamaker, the project was soon scraped and the memorial was never built.

Shortly after the coin’s release, both coin enthusiasts and the general public began speculating about the identity of the Native American man featured on this coin. Over the years, several names have circulated and a few have even taken credit for being the man on this iconic coin. Here are several theories:

Creator of the design, James Earle Fraser, a well known sculptor, wrote to the mint in 1913 stating that he had done several portraits of Native Americans in his time, including Chief Iron Tail, a Sioux, and Chief Two Moons, a Cheyenne. He called Iron Tail “the best Indian head I can remember”, but stated that his purpose was to make a type, not a portrait. Iron tail spent many years traveling with the Wild West Show, claiming to be the the model for the coin. Over the years, Fraser also named several other Native Americans that he said served as inspiration.

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Chief Iron Tail

{History} Noord-Amerikaanse Indianen // Native North-American Indians

{History} Noord-Amerikaanse Indianen // Native North-American Indians Chief Two Moons

Early on and up until 1931, Two Guns White Calf, of the Blackfoot tribe began claiming he was the model used for the coin. Although Fraser denied it, he did say that a great number of artists had used his “magnificent head” as a model for both sculptures and portraits.

By Snyder, Frank R. Flickr: Miami U. Libraries - Digital Collections [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

By Snyder, Frank R. Flickr: Miami U. Libraries – Digital Collections [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons Chief Two Guns White Calf

Perhaps the most famous and well known claimant, was an actor named John Big Tree, a Seneca. Although there were many inconsistencies in his story, he stood by his claim, even appearing on TV and various other public events as the “nickel Indian” until his death in 1967.

Chief John Big Tree

Whether a composite, or a portrait of a real person, there is no doubt that this coin is a very iconic piece of American history. Over 1.2 billion were minted between it’s debut in 1913 and its demise in 1938 (check back to find out why we used the word demise, in part two of our series on Buffalo nickels).  Although we may never know the real story of whose image was used, one thing is for sure:  The buffalo nickel itself saw a lot of use in its day, purchasing items such as a loaf of bread or a cup of coffee.  My how times have changed!

Megalodon Teeth

Megalodons once ruled the oceans!  In fact, they are thought to be the largest and most domineering predators in vertebrae history.  Their given name “Megalodon” appropriately translates to “big tooth” in Ancient Greek.  Though we can only guess about the habits and characteristics of these giant prehistoric beasts, their thousands of teeth give us some solid insight.

Tooth size and spare fossil remnants suggest that the Megalodon looked a little something like the modern Great White Shark (if it were 70 feet long weighing in at 100 tons).  Because they were primarily formed of hard cartilage, their fossils are few and far between.  Teeth are our primary means of knowledge and identification and are one of the oldest collectibles today for those who desire a glimpse into the past about 15.9 million years.

Like most collectibles, rarity comes with a pretty price tag.  There are several things to take into account when collecting these ginormous teeth:

Size matters.  Where two to five inch teeth are relatively common, teeth larger than five inches are highly desirable.  The size of a Megalodon tooth can offer insight into the size of the animal or what part of the mouth the tooth came from.  With about 276 teeth at a time, there’s a lot of variation in these chompers.  Teeth five to seven inches are extremely valuable, ranging in price from $500 for a 5 inch tooth, to over $1000 for a 7 inch one.

Megalodon tooth beside two Great White teeth

Megalodon tooth beside two Great White teeth

Oddly enough, the color of the tooth can help determine its value.  Fossilized teeth can take on any color since they absorb the sediments of their surroundings and therefore many of them are grey or black.  Color can be used to tell location of the Megalodon.  Blackish colored teeth are typically found in tidal rivers of the South Eastern United States, where larger quantities of phosphate exist.  Colorful teeth are more rare and therefore more valuable as collectibles.  Megalodons were resilient and able to live comfortably in a rage of temperatures.  Their mobility can be discovered in teeth scattered across the world.

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Like pennies, Megalodon teeth have grades.  The condition of the tooth is essential in determining the price.  After millions of years, a complete root with intact enamel baring sharp serrated edges is an amazing find and is highly valuable.  Chipped teeth or ones with considerable damage are much more common and more difficult to gauge information from.

With such a range of around the world, Megalodon teeth can be purchased for anywhere from $20 to $30 and well into the thousands of dollars.  The most expensive one that sold on Ebay in recent months went for $5000.  Though quality and color are important to collectors, the Megalodon is well-known for its size, making that the most desirable characteristic in a brilliant tooth collection.  It is astounding to imagine such a massive creature and almost overwhelming to think of a ten-ton bite force when compared to the “puny 600 pound” bite of a lion.  Not often do humans get a tangibly accessible view into the past…way into the past.  Whether you’re a collector or simply an enthusiast of life, Megalodon teeth offer an age old perspective that surpasses our grasp of time, size and rationality.  The Megalodon, once the largest

animal in existence, left its mark on Earth.

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Origins of the U.S. Postal Service

Thinking about taking a trip down to the Post Office conjures up images of long lines and regulated service in an age of instantaneous communication through text messaging and the internet.  But looking back on the history of Postal Service, the transportation of information was a privilege of the utmost relevance.

The importance of long distance communication was recognized by the early North American colonies and several programs were initiated but none took into account the vastness of all the colonies.  With a limited scope and disjointed function, these independent services failed.

In 1691, Thomas Neale petitioned for a grant from the British Crown for the establishment of a North American Postal Service.  On February 17th of 1691, he heard his response from regents William and Mary, giving him the funds “to erect, settle and establish…an office or offices for receiving and dispatching letters and pacquets, and to receive, send and deliver the same under such rates and sums of money as the planters shall agree to give, and to hold and enjoy the same for the term of twenty-one years.”

PostRoad

Excited, Neale wasted no time in appointing Andrew Hamilton, New Jersey Governor as deputy postmaster with the first official service up and running by 1692.  Postage rates were standardized and a Post Office erected in each Virginia town.  When Neale’s patent expired in 1710, Parliament advanced the English postal system to support the colonies.  The head office was established in New York City.

All was fine and dandy with this system until the Revolutionary War which seated Philadelphia as the information hub of the new nation, collapsing the English postal service.  The postal service found necessity in the expedited transportation of news, laws, military and political intelligence.  Newspapers were distributed among the thirteen states as journalists began reaching more people at a lower cost.  Overthrowing the English based postal service, the United States postal Service was created on July 26th, 1775 by the decree of the Second Continental Congress.  It was initially led by Benjamin Franklin, previous colonial postmaster.

Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net). [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photograph by Mike Peel

Seventeen years later The Post office Department was created in 1792 in order to establish Post Offices and Post roads by Constitutional authority.  Representative of core American values, the 1792 law guaranteed low-cost access to information while sanctifying personal correspondence and privacy.

As the country grew West, Post Offices began popping up across the land.  To most efficiently reach far away places, this new service operated on a hub and spoke system in which Washington was the hub.  By 1869, the USPS had gained so much leverage that it contained 27,000 local Post Offices and began utilizing railroad mail cars.  The USPS influenced national expansion crucially.  Supplying a quick and affordable way to communicate increased migration to the West, encouraging trade and business ventures while maintaining political relevance.  Aside from practicality, the easy spread of information bolstered a sense of nationalism in a blooming country, providing a necessary infrastructure in establishing the new frontier!

So next time you complain about a letter getting lost in the mail or not having mail service on Sundays, remember the long history of the Post in this county and the value of sharing information in America!

National Bank Notes | A Story

At the Stamp & Coin Place, we come across large amounts of varying currency every day.  We like to believe that each note tells a story.  This is the story of the National Bank Note .

Up until the American Civil War, state banks issued their own unique banknotes.  That changed in 1863 when the National Banking Act required federal regulation to issue National Bank Notes.  The Office of Comptroller of the Currency claimed administrative responsibility of the chartering of banks and issuing of National Bank Notes.  To encourage the hurried implementation of these new notes, the federal government placed a 2%  tax on state banknotes.  To speed the conversion to the new system, the tax was increased annually to 10% and then up to 20% before they became obsolete.

Stamp & Coin Place National Bank Note Stamp & Coin Place National Bank Note

For the next seventy years National Bank Notes were issued by banks all over the country including U.S. territories.  Banks with federal charter deposited bonds in the United States treasury so that banks could then issue notes worth up to 90% of the bond value with the understanding that the federal government would back the value of the notes.  The government was able to back the notes because the demand was high enough to support the new system.  The new system effectively monetized federal debt.  Bonds functioning as collateral maintained circulation privilege and their interest made them preferable for National Banks.
Each National Bank Note is unique in its markings.  Individual characteristics along with a rich history make these notes appreciable collectibles.  Each note bears the issuing bank’s national charter number as well as a serial number given by the bank.  Notes with low serial numbers are excellent collectibles and were even recognized as having particular value as they were being printed.  The officers who signed them realized their potential collectible worth and often kept them as souvenirs.

National Bank Notes are physically much different in appearance than the currency we use today.  They are predominantly large (with smaller notes nearing the program’s end).  The large notes displayed two serial numbers, a treasury serial number which indicated the number of notes per series and the bank serial number, indicating the notes and denomination of notes printed specifically by the issuing bank.  They bore four signatures, two of the Treasurer of the United States and Register of Treasury and two by the bank’s President and cashier.  They were often cut with scissors and many are uneven or display signatures split between two notes.  The faces on these bills were many and varying; not immediately distinguishable by denomination.

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Small sized bank notes took on a different appearance along with greater continuity and attention to detail.  Design characteristics included the same portrait per denomination and similar decorative features.  These changes influenced US. currency from the 1920’s up until the early 1990’s.  Elaborate, unique details and signatures were conformed to a simple bank stamp and serial.

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These notes constituted a fairly effective means of trade until the Great Depression when legal tender was limited to Federal Reserve Notes, United States Notes and Silver Certificates.  Privately issued banknotes were ousted and thus found their official place in the collector’s world.

Because of their unique appeal, National Bank Notes are often referred to as “hometown notes”.  With much variation and specific markings, it’s easy to see why they they are highly collected, especially in the United States today.  While larger issuance batches are inexpensive, notes from rare banks, towns and states can be quite valuable.  A single note sold in 2010 at a Walla Walla Heritage Auction for $161,000.  

Each note tells its own tale has the ability to take one back to a time and place before.  At the Stamp & Coin Place, we are curious about the past as it leaves its mark on the present.  Check out some of our rare National Bank Notes at The Stamp & Coin Place shop!