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The Bank of the United States

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The Bank of the United States $50, 1801

The Bank of the United States $50, 1801 Front
The Bank of the United States $50, 1801 Back

Enlarge: FrontThe Bank of the United States $50, 1801 front
 & BackThe Bank of the United States $50, 1801 back

Not sure if this note is genuine or contemporary counterfeit. There is one just like it with the same date, marked "counterfeit", sold by Heritage Auctions in 2003 (see scans below). You be the judge.

The first Bank of the United States (1791-1811) was the first bank chartered by the U. S. Congress. Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton conceived the idea of a central bank, and President George Washington signed the bill into law on February 25, 1791.

The bank, serving as quasi central bank of the Unites States, was authorized to issue paper money, to conduct commercial business and to serve as U. S. Treasury's fiscal agent.

The bank issued the first "United States" banknotes. Earlier banknotes were chartered either under The Continental Congress (Continental currency) or by the 13 Colonies (Colonial currency).

The $50 note shown above was issued on January 16, 1801, exactly midway in the bank's twenty-year charter. Apparently it was redeemed on August 20, 1811 (see endorsement on the back.), just before the bank closed its operation.

The first Bank of the United States was headquartered in Philadelphia with branch offices in eight major cities: Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, New York, Norfolk, Washington D. C., Savannah and New Orleans.

Thomas Willing (1731-1821), whose signature appears on the note, was the bank's president 1791-1807. Previously, he held offices as President of the Bank of North America, Member of the Continental Congress, Member of the Colonial House of Representative, Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Mayor of Philadelphia.

George Simpson, whose signature also appears on the note, was the bank's cashier and in that capacity served as the day-to-day manager of the bank.

The bank closed in 1811 when Congress failed to renew its charter.

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The Bank of the United States $50, 1801

The Bank of the United States $50, 1801 front
The Bank of the United States $50, 1801 back

Enlarge: FrontThe Bank of the United States $50, 1801 front
 & BackThe Bank of the United States $50, 1801 back

This note is not in my collection. Scans courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The front has two large "X" and "Counterfeit" hand written across it.

Described as another excessively rare early counterfeit in simply extraordinary grade, Extremely Fine. Sold for $1150 including buyer's premium at Heritage's April 30, 2003 St. Louis auction

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Thomas Willing
President, Bank of the United States
1791-1807

Thomas Willing
A 1782 oil painting by Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Bank of the United States $1000, 1840

The Bank of the United States $1000, 1840 uniface

Enlarge: UnifaceThe Bank of the United States $1000, 1840 uniface

This note is not in my collection. Scan courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's American Currency Exhibit

In 1816 the U. S. Congress chartered the second Bank of the United States. When its charter expired in 1836, the bank continued to operate under a charter granted by the State of Pennsylvania until 1841. The $1000 note shown above was issued under the State charter.

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The Bank of the United States $1000, 1840
Serial Number 8894, a well-known replica

The Bank of the United States $1000, 1840

Enlarge: UnifaceThe Bank of the United States $1000, 1840 uniface

Three most commonly seen replicas of the Bank of the United States notes are
$10 dated Jan. 23, 1834 serial number 646,
$1000 dated Dec. 15, 1840 serial number 8894,
and $1,000,000 dated Dec. 25, 1840 serial number 711.

These replicas were reproduced in the 1960's for a promotional giveaway in cereal boxes. These replicas are essentially worthless. They were printed on yellowish-brown "antiqued" paper that is crisp and brittle to the touch.

Back to Obsolete Banknotes

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