31 – An EXCEPTIONALLY RARE Piece Of Local Currency

By Museum of Northwest Colorado

While our museum is known for its rare items, this $5 bill issued by the First National Bank of Craig is right up there with the rarest!
National Bank Notes were first introduced in 1863 to help curtail the rampant fraud occurring from private banks issuing their own (occasionally worthless) money. With the National Banking Act of 1863 only banks with a federal charter were allowed to issue banknotes. These new notes, with the issuing bank’s name on the front of the bill, were fully backed by the federal government and helped reestablish trust in the U.S. currency system. If a local, nationally chartered bank were to fail, their notes were still legal tender and could be spent.
Two main styles of National Bank Notes were issued. The “large” notes were larger than today’s standard size and were issued all the way until the late 1920s. These notes feature the issuing bank’s name as part of the overall bill’s design. The “small” notes simply had the bank’s name stamped onto the note and were the same size of today’s currency.
Most National Bank Notes were removed from circulation with either the failure of the issuing bank or at the end of the program in 1935. Therefore these are highly collectable and occasionally very rare. For instance, though the Craig bank issued a total of $122,380 in bills before its failure in 1932, there are only 4 known large notes remaining; it is considered one of the more rare issues in Colorado.
The $5 note pictured here (a large note) was issued in 1919 and was signed by the bank’s president C.A. Van Dorn and cashier H.C. Sather. It was acquired by the museum in 2014 from H.C.’s son Richard Sather and his wife Virginia.