Who’s Who in the Cast


“Who’s Who in the Cast” is an exhibit of United States National Bank Notes. The exhibit is comprised of 128 items (e.g., 123 individual notes, 2 note fragments, 2 uncut sheets and 1 uncut pair). All notes are from the Original or 1875 Series (commonly referred to as First Charter Period or FCP), and the Series of 1882 Brown Backs (the first issue of the Second Charter Period, or 1882BB). Each state and territory that issued FCP and 1882BB notes is represented in this exhibit (with the exception of an Alaska 1882BB which has yet to be reported). There is only one 1882BB known for Nevada (not in this collection), thus the discovery of the 1882BB NV fragment was a welcome addition to the set. Mississippi is the only state that issued FCP notes for which none have ever been reported. The FCP MS fragment is the only example of its kind.


National Bank Notes of the FCP and 1882BB series illustrate the individual Territorial and State Seals on the reverse of the note. Territories that never adopted an official seal illustrate the eagle in place of the seal. Some state seals changed during the printing of the FCP and 1882BB series (AL, DC, IA, MD, NY, NC, OH, VT, and WI). Both varieties of these state seals are represented in this display. While the organizing principle of the bank notes in this exhibit (i.e., the theme used to assemble this particular set) relates to Territorial and State Seals, the focus of the exhibit is the bankers who signed the notes. Every National Bank Note is signed by (or has the stamped signatures of) two officers of the bank: the President or Vice-President (VP) and the Cashier or Assistant Cashier (AC). Some of the notables who signed national bank notes were well known leaders of finance (e.g., J.P. Morgan, The Kountze Brothers, George Baker), political leaders, and industrialists. Many bankers enjoyed successful careers in banking, however a number of them were also professionally accomplished outside of their role as a bank officer. The purpose of this exhibit is to highlight the background, diverse interests and accomplishments (e.g., industry, politics, etc) of national bank officers. Notes were selected for inclusion in this exhibit based on a combination of bank, denomination, and series rarity. No consideration (other than aesthetic) was given to the bank officer signatures. While some bankers had significant information available via internet search, most required several hours and a few necessitated contact with state and town historical societies. On rare occasion, information via internet was not available for certain bankers.


Immediately to the left of the featured bankers’ bio is a rectangular box containing the name of the state or territory, an image of the center of the note (a.k.a., the tombstone), and the name of the series (FCP or 1882BB). Beneath the series name are the reported statistics for the state. Depending on the exhibited note (e.g., #1 or higher denomination), relevant state statistics will be reported. For example, for Ohio 910 FCP notes are reported, thus underneath the tombstone it will read “910 FCP” and since the note on exhibit is a high denomination ($50), the rarity box will further indicate “7 $50 & 16 $100.” At the very bottom of the rectangle separated by a dotted line are the specific bank statistics. FCP rarity ranges from New York (1,952 FCP notes) to the scarcest five: Idaho Territory (4), Arizona Territory (3), Florida (3), South Dakota (2), Nevada (2), Utah-State (1), Washington-State (1), Mississippi (0.25) 1882BB rarity ranges from New York (2,189 1882BB) to the scarcest: Idaho (17), Arizona Territory (14), Montana Territory (9), Idaho Territory (5), Nevada (1.25), Alaska Territory (0)