There’s a new lineup of collectible items available to monetary enthusiasts at Provident Metals, and we can assure you this new lineup is unlike anything else. A growing trend among private mints is the enhancement of modern Federal Reserve Notes from the US Treasury and the Bureau of Engraving & Printing. Though modern notes from the US government are a respected, stable form of fiat currency, the design of modern notes leaves something to be desired. Historically, US paper notes had designs that were reminiscent of small works of art that average people could carry in pockets and wallets. Provident Metals offers a rundown of these new legal tenders in our weekly blog.
Historic Notes Represented
A slew of historic designs are being revived on modern Federal Reserve Notes to create affordable, available collectible pieces for monetary enthusiasts. From the 1890s to the 1910s, the United States went through an exhaustive program to revamp all of its currency designs, with a particular focus on developing paper note designs that were akin to works of art. Featured originally on US Silver Certificates and the United States Note Series, these beautiful designs are once again available to collectors with high-definition graphics and brilliant colorization:
- 1896 Educational Series – a design collection that debuted on the $1, $2, and $5 Silver Certificates in 1896, the Educational Series is widely considered the greatest set of designs in the history of American paper currency. The notes included designs, in order of ascending denomination, of History instructing youth, Science presenting steam and electricity, and electricity becoming the leading power in the world. Each design featured female allegories representing the fields of education.
- 1899 Black Eagle – also known as the Dual Presidents design, the 1899 $1 Black Eagle Silver Certificate replaced the Educational Series design and came with a depiction of a bald eagle clutching a pole with the American flag. Beneath the eagle are effigies of President Abraham Lincoln and President Ulysses S. Grant. This note design was the first in US history to feature two presidents and remains the only one to feature two presidents on the same side of a note.
- 1899 Running Antelope – introduced on the 1899 $2 Silver Certificate to replace the Educational Series design, this elegant bust of Running Antelope became the first-ever portrait of an indigenous American figure on US money. The portrait captures the leader of the Hunkpapa tribe, Running Antelope, in front-facing relief with a beautiful headdress.
- 1901 Bison Note – issued on the 1901 $10 United States Note, the Bison Note design features a muscular American bison on the American Plains flanked by effigies of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. This was one of the last large-sized notes issued by the United States. At some 40% larger than the modern Federal Reserve Note, it was affectionately referred to as a “horse blanket” note due to its size.
- Washington Porthole – released on the 1899 $2 Silver Certificate in place of the Educational Series design, this portrait of President George Washington marked the first and only time he appeared on the $2 denomination of US paper money. The depiction of President Washington is flanked by two allegorical figures and was one of the earliest uses of the porthole design concept, one that continues in use to this day on modern Federal Reserve Notes.
Special Commemorative Issues
In addition to replicating historic US paper note designs, private mints are using unique processes to create commemorative issues featuring new visuals with high-definition, colorized graphics on the face of Federal Reserve Notes. As an early example of some of the new products available, you will find:
- $2 US Space Force Bill – in honor of the formation of the United States Space Force, a sister service of the United States Air Force and the sixth branch of the United States Military, this high-definition design process has been used to enhance a $2 US Bill. The background behind the effigy of President Thomas Jefferson features scenes from space, the new frontier for the dedicated Space Force.
- Black Eagle/Running Antelope/Bison – in a particularly beautiful release, all three major design elements from the aforementioned collections feature on an enhanced Federal Reserve Note. This design features Running Antelope at the center with the Black Eagle design and Bison Note design flanking the portrait of the indigenous leader.
Which Notes Get Enhanced?
The enhancement process that takes place on the notes adds to the value of the note beyond its assigned face value from Congress. However, in the interest of not creating items that are far more valuable as circulation notes than collectible pieces, private mints focus on the three smallest denominations of US Federal Reserve Notes when enhancing the bills with new design graphics. This includes the $1, $2, and $5 bills from the Bureau of Printing & Engraving. While the obverse busts of former presidents are often covered by the graphics, the reverse sides maintain the original designs to include:
- $1 note – the reverse of the $1 Federal Reserve Note has been in use since 1935 and features the all-seeing eye atop a pyramid on the left with the Great Seal of the United States on the right.
- $2 note – on the reverse side of $2 Federal Reserve Notes is a design from an 1818 portrait by John Trumbull. This image captures the moment of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and it has been featured on the modern $2 bill since it was introduced in 1976.
- $5 note – introduced in 1929, the reverse design of the $5 Federal Reserve Note depicts a view of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
Background on US Paper Money
The first major form of US paper money issued was the Demand Note. While the Continental Congress had previously issued paper money during the American Revolution, it wasn’t until the Civil War that paper money became more commonplace. The Demand Note was only issued in 1861 and 1862 as a means of covering the costs the federal government incurred during the Civil War. In 1862, another form of US paper money made its debut that represented a more long-term form of legal tender. Known as the United States Note, the designs from this series and the Silver Certificate Series are prominently featured on these new, enhanced Federal Reserve Notes. A bit more background information:
- United States Note – available from 1862 to 1971, the United States Note was primarily issued in the large-note size, with examples such as the 1901 $10 Bison Note remembered for the much larger size compared to modern Federal Reserve Note.
- US Silver Certificate – introduced in 1878 and produced through 1964, Silver Certificates were last redeemable in the United States in 1968. The Silver Certificate was issued in response to the angry reaction Americans had to the Fourth Coinage Act and the end of free silver coining. You could redeem Silver Certificates for face value in silver dollars, initially, and later (1967-1968) for raw silver bullion.
- Federal Reserve Note – first issued in 1914, the modern form of US paper money was originally produced in large-sized format, but for most of its release life, the Federal Reserve Note has been produced in the sizes we are familiar with today.
Packaging for Other Legal Tender Notes
The other legal tender notes now available come with beautiful display folios. The bi-fold presentation folios house the enhanced note on the right side with a Certificate of Authenticity on the left side.
Collect These Unique Designs with Provident Metals
Provident Metals is proud to expand its offerings to now attract more monetary enthusiasts and collectors with these new legal tender notes. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. You can call us at 800-313-3315, chat with us live online, or email us directly. Don’t forget to read our weekly blog posts and follow us on Facebook for more updates and weekly information.