In 1863, the National Banking Act birthed a new type of currency in the United States. These notes were issued by the government for National banks. A National Bank put United States Bonds on deposit with the Treasury and then had notes printed against that deposit. Printed in both the large and small formats, these notes were issued up until 1935, when other types of currency replaced them in circulation. These notes were issued in states, provinces, territories and even Indian territories. A note would bear the name of the issuing bank as well as the city and state, province or territory in which it was issued.
This type of currency created a host of ways for collectors to collect old notes. A person can collect notes from every state, most major cities, or notes issued from their own state. Some people collect notes bearing odd names or even their own name.
Most of the Western states have a host of rare bank notes, as the population was much smaller and many in the West preferred hard money to currency. In Nevada, there were 16 issuing banks in 13 cities. Two of the issuing charters changed their name during their issuing period, making a total of 18 different possibilities in names on Nevada bank notes. There are also large and small formats issued by some of the banks, and possibly several different types of notes.
Nevada bank notes are considered rare in collectors' eyes. Reno is the only common bank in the state, and even Reno notes will fetch at least $1,000. Other towns or cities issuing bank notes in Nevada are Austin, Carson City, East Ely, Elko, Ely, Eureka, Goldfield, Lovelock, McGill, Rhyolite, Tonopah and Winnemucca. Banks issued $5, $10, $20, $50, or $100 denominations, just as today. There are two issuing banks that have not been discovered by the collectors' community yet. Those are Rhyolite and Austin. To have one of either of these notes would mean a tremendous payday in the healthy six figures.
When our country left the National Bank note system, these notes went into receivership, meaning that as notes were turned in to banks, they were destroyed. In Nevada, many of the banks issued relatively few notes, and with years of receivership, it is certain that most of the original notes have been lost forever. But a few still survive. If you are lucky enough to have a Nevada bank note, it might be wise to check it out - a first-class dealer can pay between $10,000 and $100,000 for many of the rarer Nevada notes, and there is a host of those that would be in the $40,000-$100,000 range. Not a bad return for a note forgotten about, saved, or lost for around the last 100 years.
• Allen Rowe is the owner of Northern Nevada Coin in Carson City.