Paper Money

Beautiful, historic designs on large-size notes attract collectors

The beauty, the history and the variety are often what attract collectors to large-size notes.

Now a new reference work focused entirely on large-size U.S. type notes offers collectors a deeper look at a popular collectible.

The Comprehensive Catalog of U.S. Federal Large-Size Notes, 1861-1929 by Carlson R. Chambliss and Gene Hessler, was published in July 2014.

Here’s a look at some of the large-size type notes that can be collected.

Silver certificates

Designs on large-size silver certificates are often touted as the “golden age” of engraved designs. And if anyone loves the art of engraving there’s an example that turns heads — the Series 1886 $5 silver certificate.

Ornate engraving alongside the portrait of Ulysses S. Grant quietly highlights the face design. But the real show stopper might well be in the design on the back, showing five Morgan silver dollars. The reverses of four of the coins are displayed, along with one in the center showing the 1886 obverse design.

One bit of trivia about this note’s design: seen on these notes is the use of the motto “In God We Trust,” on the reverse of the silver dollars. This is the motto’s first appearance on paper notes, decades before it was mandated by government officials in the late 1950s.

Treasury or coin notes

The lure of American history fairly shouts from the Series 1891 $10 Treasury or coin note depicting U.S. Army Gen. Philip Sheridan, a graduate of the West Point Military Academy in 1853. Sheridan succeeded Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in 1884 as commander-in-chief of the Union Army.

The back design shows off the ornate artistry of the guilloche technique of closely spaced lathe-line engravings. The technique produces multitudes of spirals and other repetitive lines that also acted as security devices for the notes. Treasury/coin notes were so-called because they were redeemable in actual coin, but whether silver or gold coin should be paid out was to the discretion of the Treasury secretary.

Community Comments