Since the dawn of the US Civil War, the United States government has authorized the printing and issue of a variety of forms of paper currency. To this day, US paper currency circulates around the world. Below, you’ll find a brief breakdown on some of the common forms still available to collectors.
Legal Tender notes were the first form of paper currency issued by the United States government. They were authorized by the Legal Tender Act of 1862 during the American Civil War. These notes, commonly known as “greenbacks,” were fiat currency backed by the faith and credit of the US government rather than being redeemable for a specific commodity. Legal Tender notes bore the inscription “This note is a legal tender for all debts, public and private” and featured prominent figures, such as presidents and statesmen, on the front.
Silver Certificates were introduced in 1878 and were redeemable for a specified amount of silver bullion or coins. They served as a representative of silver dollars held in the US Treasury. Silver Certificates were issued in various denominations and featured intricate designs showcasing historical figures, notable landmarks, or allegorical symbols. However, the redemption of Silver Certificates for silver was gradually phased out starting in the 1960s, and they ceased to be redeemable for silver in 1968.
Federal Reserve Bank Notes were introduced in 1914 as part of the Federal Reserve System, which centralized the US banking system. These banknotes were issued by the individual Federal Reserve Banks and served as liabilities of those banks. They were backed by assets held by the Federal Reserve, such as government securities. Federal Reserve Bank Notes featured the name of the issuing Federal Reserve Bank and were distinguishable by the district seal and letter denoting the bank. However, the production of Federal Reserve Bank Notes ended in the 1940s, and they were gradually withdrawn from circulation.
Federal Reserve Notes are the primary form of US paper currency in circulation today. They were first issued in 1914 and continue to be produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Federal Reserve Notes are backed by the assets of the Federal Reserve System and serve as the legal tender of the United States. They feature prominent American figures, historic events, and iconic landmarks on the front, and their design includes various security features to deter counterfeiting.
Many of these forms of currency came with designs not commonly found today. The oldest US forms of paper currency often had extremely artistic designs. JM Bullion customer service can help answer your questions at 800-276-6508. We are also available online using our live chat and email address features. Remember to visit our Payment Methods page for more details on payments.