© Copyright 1995-2022, Clay Irving <clay@panix.com>

Large Notes

Prior to 1923, United States paper money was 22% large than contemporary notes (approximately 7.4218 × 3.125 inches, or 189mm × 79 mm).

FR-248 | KL-129

Series 1896 $2 Silver Certificate, "Educational Series" Bruce - Roberts, Fine

The second note of the Educational Series — the $1 note being the first. It is perhaps the only bill in United States history to give tribute to scientists and inventors alone while neglecting the usual display of generals and politicians. Engraved by Charles Schlecht and G.F.C. Smillie from designs by Edwin H. Blashfield (the figures in the center) and Thomas F. Morris (frame and background). The front represents the wise and matronly Science presenting the young Steam and Electricity to Industry and Commerce. The young Electricity carries a coil of wire wound into an electromagnet. Steam, slightly more mature, holds a lever which controls the gear of an engine. Tall fronds form a central circle for the figures, framing them and setting them off sharply from the white background; the sides of the note are filled out with carved mantels and shields.

The reverse, engraved by Lorenzo J. Hatch, has engravings of Robert Fulton, inventor of the steam engine, and Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph.

FR-236 | KL-51

Series 1899 $1 Silver Certificate, "Black Eagle Note" Speelman - White

Eagle on flag, 13 stars between the eagle's wings, capitol behind, at center; small portraits of Lincoln and Grant below. Series date above the upper right serial number.

FR-271 | KL-241

Series 1899 $5 Silver Certificate, Lyons - Roberts, Plate# B572/470, S/N A22557618

Chief Takoka-Inyanka (Running Antelope) of Hunkpapa Sioux at center

There is an interesting story behind the printing of the $5 note. Running Antelope was a member of the Oncpapa or Hunkpapa Sioux tribe. The portrait used on the note came from a photograph taken in 1872 for the Bureau of Ethnology; however, Running Antelope wore a headdress with three feathers that projected too high for a good image on the note. To correct the problem, an employee of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing posed wearing a war bonnet belonging to another tribe, and the headdress was cut out and superimposed on the photograph of Running Antelope; George F.C. Smillie engraved the design in November of 1899. The headdress, ironically, belonged to the Pawnee tribe, rivals of the tribe of Running Antelope.

FR-758 | KL-1047

Series 1914 $50 Federal Reserve Note, Atlanta, White - Mellon

FR-847 | KL-275

Series 1914 $5 Federal Reserve Note, Boston, White - Mellon.

FR-237 | KL-52

Series 1923 $1 Silver Certificate, "Saddle Blanket", Speelman - White.

This note was the last of the large-note $1 Silver Certificates. The central facing image is portrait of George Washington from the Gilbert C. Stuart "Athenaeum" painting.