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Vignette of Lincoln appears on FRBNs
By Jeff Starck

Series 1915 and 1918 $5 Federal Reserve Bank notes, featuring a portrait of President Lincoln, could be the perfect wedding accompaniment.

Images courtesy of www.HeritageCurrency.com. A portrait of President Abraham Lincoln was borrowed from a past federal paper money issue for the Series 1915 and 1918 $5 Federal Reserve Bank notes.
The notes live up to the wedding adage of providing something old with something new, and something borrowed with something blue.

The qualifiers are the historic vignette of President Lincoln gracing the face of a $5 denomination in a new type of federal paper money. The notes depict a back design borrowed from another paper money issue. The serial numbers and Treasury seal, in blue ink, complete the wedding requirements.

Creating a system, its paper money

The notes were authorized under the Federal Reserve Acts of Dec. 23, 1913, which also authorized the Federal Reserve System and Federal Reserve notes, another type of note.

Twelve cities were selected to host Federal Reserve Banks: in order, numerically by district, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco.

Federal Reserve Bank notes should not be confused with Federal Reserve notes, though both were authorized by the same act. It is easy to understand how they could be confused, given the similarity in name and with both types using the same back designs.

However, the responsibility for the obligation for payment differs between the two types of notes. The obligation on Federal Reserve notes is borne by the U.S. government, not the individual banks. The obligation on Federal Reserve Bank notes was borne by the individual bank rather than the federal government.

Appearances can be confusing

Because Federal Reserve Bank notes carry the inscription national currency across the top, they are also often confused with national bank notes (which also carry a national currency inscription), although the two are different types of paper currency, and nationals predate Federal Reserve Bank notes by half a century.

Large-size Federal Reserve Bank notes were released in two series (the second issue of Federal Reserve Bank notes was authorized by the Act of April 23, 1918), in denominations of $1 through $50.

The face of each of the large-size Federal Reserve Bank notes features a small presidential portrait centered to the left of the note.

Charles Burt's engraving of Abraham Lincoln on the $5 is based on a photograph by Anthony Berger, a partner of Matthew Brady.

The portrait was originally used on the Series 1869 $100 Treasury note, often called the "Rainbow note."

The overall face design of the $5 Federal Reserve Bank notes is credited to a host of Bureau of Engraving and Printing engravers, who worked on plates for various districts, according to paper money expert Fred Reed.

"Evidently it was a big job creating the plates because of the multiplicity of Federal Reserve Banks," Reed said.

Designs for the backs of the $5 through $50 notes are shared with Federal Reserve notes of like denominations.

Both vignettes on the back of the $5 Federal Reserve Bank note were engraved by Joseph I. Pease.

The one on the left is titled Columbus' Discovery of Land and the one on the right is Landing of the Pilgrims.

Five districts (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City and San Francisco) issued $5 notes of the first issue, Series 1915.

For the second issue of Federal Reserve Bank note, 11 banks issued the $5 notes (St. Louis issued only $50 notes).

On the second issue, the language of the obligation to pay the bearer differs completely from the obligation on the first issue.

 



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