Paper Money

What is a horse blanket note?

This Series 1923 $1 silver certificate is an example of a "horse blanket" note, referring to the larger size of the note compared to small-size notes of today.

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Nicknames for paper money abound in the “folding money” collecting hobby.

So it is no surprise that when newer collectors come across a term in an old catalog or reference book that they’ve not heard of before, they start asking questions.

Here’s one Coin World has heard many times before: What does it mean when a catalog/book refers to a “horse blanket” note?

The quick answer is that the term “horse blanket” note is sometimes used as a general nickname for large-size notes of all types.

You may see the term “horse blanket” or even “saddle blankets,” especially when referring to the large-size Series 1923 silver certificates.

The face of those notes feature a portrait of George Washington. At first glance the design looks like an early small-size Federal Reserve note, but a closer look reveals the note bears blue serial numbers, Treasury seal and a large numeral 1. Blue was the designated color for silver certificates.

The back design is fairly plain, compared to other large-size silver certificates. The text across the back THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / ONE DOLLAR, nearly fills the center of the note. Three numeral 1s each appear on the right and left sides of the design.

Large-size notes were first issued in 1861 when the federal government began printing demand notes. Large-size notes of all types continued to be printed and circulated until small-size notes were introduced in 1929.

While those so-called “horse blanket” notes were large, at 3.125 inches by 7.375 inches it is an exaggeration to say they could cover a horse’s back underneath its saddle.

When small-size notes were introduced, banks and manufacturers prepared the public for a change in the size of wallets and money purses. The downsizing would accommodate the new sized paper cash.

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