Paper Money

Last round for large-size notes offers nationals, first FR notes

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 final look at some of the large-size type notes that can be collected.

National bank notes

Large-size national bank notes bear a wide variety of designs, many telling the story of America from its earliest days.

The Original Series $2 note printed for the First National Bank of Lincoln (Illinois), an example of which illustrates this article, features a vignette of an allegorical female figure to the left of a “Lazy 2” or “Lazy Deuce” on the face of the note.

The note derives its “Lazy 2” designation from the horizontal positioning of the number 2 on the face.

The figure holds a flag topped by a wreath of leaves, and the vignette is known as Stars and Stripes.

National bank notes are “hometown” notes since thousands of banks in communities large and small issued the notes. They provide collectors with a multitude of ways to collect — from vignette features, to the bank names, to the cities and states with banks that issued national bank notes.

National bank notes were first issued in 1863 during the Civil War.

The nation desperately needed an organized system of paper money during the shortage of hard money.

The National Currency Act of Feb. 25, 1863, solved the problem of unstable currency by establishing a system of national banks, each one operating under a charter issued by the U.S. comptroller of the currency.

The individual banks purchased U.S. government bonds and deposited them with the comptroller, who would then authorize the production of notes having the individual bank’s name, for up to 90 percent of the value of the bonds.

National bank notes were issued by banks in all 48 states and the territories of Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Large-size notes were issued from 1863 to 1928.

Federal Reserve notes

Though some large-size Federal Reserve notes display portraits familiar to collectors of the currently circulating small-size FRNs, the red serial numbers and Treasury shield and vignettes on the back make these large-size notes distinctive beyond their size.

The Series 1914 $20 Federal Reserve note features, in contrast to the small-sized $20 FRN’s portrait of Andrew Jackson, a portrait of Grover Cleveland on the face.

The back design displays a vignette called Land, Sea and Air, showing four methods of transportation — a train, an airplane and an automobile at the far left, and a ship cruising past the Statue of Liberty on the far right.

That concludes our brief tour of some large-size type notes. This is really just a peek at what’s available to collect. But collectors can start with these types at grades they can afford and work their way up in note quality and price.

How to order the book

The new Chambliss and Hessler book is available for $35. Payment by check or money order must be included with orders.

Send orders to Carlson R. Chambliss, Box 804, Kutztown, PA 19530.

For more information or to inquire about quantity discounts, Chambliss can be contacted by telephone at 800-683-6572 or by email to

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