Other Legal Tender Notes Online at Provident Metals
The golden age of American currency design came in the late-19th and early-20th centuries as the nation sought to beautify both its legal tender coinage and its legal tender notes. While President Theodore Roosevelt launched the movement to redefine American coining in the early-20th century, the movement to enhance the visual appeal of American paper money started in the 1890s. At this time, the hope was to create American paper money designs that were akin to small works of art in the pocket of everyday Americans. Though these notes have long since been removed from production and circulation, modern Federal Reserve Notes are still enhanced by private dealers in an effort to provide modern collectors with a chance to own historic US note designs.
What is an Enhanced Legal Note?
An enhanced legal tender note is any form of modern, circulating paper money that an authorized dealer or private mint has purchased to enhance the visual appearance of the notes for collectors. As it pertains to paper notes from the United States dollar, private mints and authorized dealers use uncirculated, clean, crisp notes from the Federal Reserve Note Series. The notes are picked from sealed packs by the mint or dealer and then enhanced with additional designs on the obverse.
These authorized dealers and mints use a proprietary process to create new visuals on the obverse of Federal Reserve Notes. The original designs are not removed and the bills are not physically altered. However, high-definition graphics are superimposed onto the obverse to recreate historic designs. In many cases, the effigy of the US President or American dignitary on the obverse is covered entirely by the new design. Many of the designs include colorization along with the historic design.
When you purchase these enhanced legal tender notes, most are packaged with an eye toward displaying the notes as part of a collection. Each note is packaged individually inside of a bi-fold folio that houses the note on one side of the presentation folio and offers a Certificate of Authenticity on the other side of the folio.
Typical Legal Tender Denominations
When it comes to the legal tender notes that these private mints select to enhance, it is often the lowest denominations from the United States dollar that are chosen. The $1, $2, and $5 bills of the Federal Reserve Note are some of the most widely circulated in the United States and make the perfect vehicle for the production of enhanced bills. Using larger notes, such as the $10, $20, $50, or $100 bill would result in a collectible piece that has a face value well in excess of the collectible value of the images replicated on the obverse. Here is a brief history of these notes:
- $1 Bill – The smallest denomination of paper money, the $1 Federal Reserve Note is now the most common bill in circulation, but was actually the last one introduced in the modern Federal Reserve Note. Debuting in 1929, it features President George Washington on the obverse with the all-seeing eye and Great Seal of the United States on the reverse.
- $2 Bill – Widely produced but rarely used, the $2 bill of the Federal Reserve Note is thought by many to actually be fraudulent. The $2 bill is one of America’s oldest denominations, issued in previous forms of paper money from 1862-1966. The modern Federal Reserve Note has been in circulation since 1976 with a portrait of President Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and a painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the reverse.
- $5 Bill – The modern $5 Federal Reserve Note debuted with the first releases of this note series in 1914. The bills have long featured a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln on the obverse, and since 1929 have used the image of the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse.
When these notes are enhanced, private mints and other issuers of these specimens cover up the obverse effigy of the president. However, you will still find the above-mentioned reverse designs intact.
Popular Other Legal Tender Designs
The point of enhanced legal tender notes is to give modern collectors a chance to own some of the nation’s greatest paper note designs without having to spend hundreds or thousands on remaining specimens from the original issuance of these designs. In many cases, there are only a few thousand former circulation examples left of some of these designs, and each one often commands thousands among collectors. So, what designs are most commonly recreated? Below are a few examples:
- 1896 Educational Series: Issued in the $1, $2, and $5 Silver Certificates, the 1896 Educational Series is considered the most beautiful set of American paper note designs of all-time. Each note had a different design of a female allegory, with the notes produced only from 1896 to early 1899 before being replaced by new images on the Silver Certificates.
- 1899 Black Eagle: Replacing the $1 Educational Series design, the 1899 $1 Black Eagle Silver Certificate depicts an American bald eagle with the American flag on a pole in its talons. This note design was the first in American history to depict two US Presidents on its obverse face, with President Lincoln and President Grant beneath the eagle. It remains the only note in US history to feature two presidents on the same side, with the modern $2 bill featuring two presidents with Jefferson on the obverse and Adams on the reverse.
- 1899 Running Antelope: Replacing the $5 Educational Series design, the 1899 $5 Running Antelope effigy was the first American note ever to feature an indigenous figure. The portrait of Running Antelope, chief of the Hunkpapa tribe of Lakota Sioux, his effigy featured on the $5 Silver Certificate until 1923 when it was replaced by a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln.
- 1899 Washington Porthole: The first and only appearance of President Washington on a $2 note, the Washington Porthole design appeared on the Silver Certificate from 1899 until the denomination was discontinued. The portrait of President Washington on the obverse set the tone for the depiction of former presidents inside “portholes,” design frames that replicated the appearance of the individual looking out from a ship’s porthole.
- 1901 Bison Note: One of America’s greatest note designs of all time. Affectionately known as the “horse blanket,” the large-sized note in the US Note Series introduced in 1901 featured an American bison on the obverse that was flanked by silhouettes of Lewis & Clark, the men behind the famous expedition into the territories of the Louisiana Purchase to chart the land and report back to President Thomas Jefferson.
Background on US Paper Money
Paper notes are commonly used in circulation on a daily basis by millions of Americans and millions more people around the globe. However, US paper money was not introduced until the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln’s administration authorized the introduction of the Demand Note in 1862 as a means of helping cover the costs of fielding a larger Union Army during the war. That same year saw the first introduction of a wide range of other forms of paper money in the US. The following is a breakdown of paper money issuance in the United States:
- United States Note: Issued in 1862, the United States Note was the first major form of circulation paper money in the United States. It was the first to earn the nickname “greenback,” and as of 2021, remains the longest-running form of paper money for its 109-year production between 1862 and 1971. The Federal Reserve Note, the modern form of paper money, will not surpass the US Note in longevity until 2024.
- Silver Certificate: One of the most popular forms of historic US paper money in terms of design, the Silver Certificate was issued between 1878 and 1964. The certificates were released by the United States in response to the anger of Americans with the Fourth Coinage Act and its placement of the United States on the gold standard. Silver Certificates were redeemable for silver dollars until 1967, with the certificates redeemable for raw silver bullion for the final year through 1968.
- Gold Certificate: Generally speaking, gold certificates were available as a certificate denoting an individual’s ownership of gold rather than holding physical gold. As a form of paper money, Gold Certificates were issued in the United States from 1893-1933. The notes were no longer accepted once the US left the gold standard.
- National Bank Notes: This form of US banknote was permissible for issue only by National Banks chartered by the US federal government. The notes were backed by US Bonds that the US Treasury held.
- Federal Reserve Bank Note: One of the shortest-lived notes in the history of US paper notes, the Federal Reserve Bank Note was issued between 1915 and 1934. The Federal Reserve Bank Note was different from the modern Federal Reserve Note in that each one was backed by one of the individual 12 Federal Reserve Banks. Modern notes are backed by all 12 banks collectively.
- Federal Reserve Note: As noted earlier, the Federal Reserve Note is the modern form of paper money issued in the United States and it debuted in both 1914 and 1918 series with various denominations. Today it consists of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes.
Buying Other Legal Tender Notes at Provident Metals
If you have any questions about legal tender notes and designs available at Provident Metals, please feel free to ask. Our customer service team can assist you on the phone at 800-313-3315, online using our live chat, and via our email address. For questions regarding our payment policies, please feel free to reference our Payment Policies page. You can also reach out to us with any questions that might remain.