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     The National Currency Act provided for a standardized currency for the Nation which was backed by United States Bonds. Over a 72 year period (1863-1935), some 12,635 banks across the Nation issued National Bank notes which were fondly referred to as “hometown money". The Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed each individual bank’s name on the notes and while there were several variations of National Bank Notes over the years, they can be categorized into five major series of notes; 1) Original Series (1863-1875); 2) Series of 1875; 3) Series of 1882; 4) Series of 1902; 5) Series of 1929. 


   The era of National bank notes officially ceased on August 1, 1935 when the bonds used to back the currency were sold and the proceeds placed into a redemption fund.  National currency was returned to the treasury as the banks received them.  Although, National bank notes are still legal and valid tender today, their collector value exceeds their face value and they no longer circulate in daily commerce.  We currently have notes issued under the Federal Reserve System that utilizes 12 regional districts to distribute currency to large institutional banks instead of the 12,635 hometown National Banks.  The Bureau of Engraving and Printing no longer has to print over 12,000 different bank names on the bills and deliver them to each individual bank.  Also, today’s currency is not backed by bonds or precious metals, but simply by the faith of the people using it.


History of Oakland County, by Thaddeus D. Seeley, pub: The Lewis Publishing Company © 1912 Vol. 1

Detroit and its Banks, by Arthur M. Woodford, pub: Wayne State University Press © 1974

The Book of Birmingham, by Jervic Bell McMechan, pub: The Birmingham Historical Board © 1976 Second Printing 1989

Paper Money of the United States, by Robert Freidberg, pub: The Coin and Currency Institute © 1992 13th Edition

National Bank Notes, by Don C. Kelly, pub: The Paper Money Institute, Inc. © 1997 3rd Edition

American Bankers Association at 


about the author

   The author is a former Birmingham, Michigan area resident of 35 years and currently collects material from the National banks in Oakland County, Michigan.  If you have material related to National banks in Birmingham, Holly, Milford, Pontiac, Rochester or Royal Oak, Michigan available for sale or have comments about the material presented here, please contact the author.

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