Attached are pictures of a $5 bill signed by a relative of mine, as
well as the envelope it came in. The note has never been circulated
and, up until a few years ago, it had sat in the envelope stored away
folded in thirds. You can see the two fold lines going down. Not much
I can do about that since that’s how they mailed it 100+ years ago.
The recipient of the $5 bill, Fred Armstrong, is where my middle
name derived from, Frederick.
I’m curious obviously about the rarity of it, and the potential
value of it. However, as a relative “newbie” to paper money, I would
love an explanation of what the various numbers mean.
Matthew Frederick Dakin
Reader Dakin submitted images of a Second Charter, Series 1882
Brown Back $5 national bank note of the First National Bank of Milford
(New York), along with an envelope in which it was stored.
National bank notes were authorized by the National Banking Act of
1863. Under the act, the government was authorized to charter
individual banks, which could then issue notes equal to 90 percent of
the par value of U.S. government bonds that the banks had deposited as
security for the notes to be issued.
The First National Bank of Milford was chartered on July 20, 1899,
and like all national banks, was issued a charter number — in this
case, number 5210. That charter number appears multiple times on the
note, including in brown at the upper right of the face, vertically in
black at the left side of the face and prominently in green at the
center of the back of the note, plus in other locations.
The note also has a Treasury serial number at the upper right of
the face, and a bank serial number, 1, below the portrait of President Garfield.
The federal government arranged for the printing of the notes
issued by national banks, while the individual banks issued them into
circulation locally. Many of the early notes were hand signed by the
local bank’s leadership, as on the illustrated Milford note, which was
signed by Charles J. Armstrong, bank president.
Armstrong and his father, John, in 1894 had constructed the
Milford Steam Mill.
During its existence as a national bank, the institution issued
$596,600 face value in notes. As of 1935, just $700 in large-size
notes had not been redeemed.
A note from the same four-note sheet as the reader’s note realized
$6,169 in a Stack’s Bowers Galleries August 2012 auction. The reader’s
note, like that in the auction, is a serial number 1 note, making it
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