United States $10 Banknote, Legal Tender, Series of 1901

Hat tip boingboing, National Numismatic Collection (NNC) of the Smithsonian Institution


Back in the day, US currency did not have Presidents on it, but rather, consisted of “animals and symbolic statuary” as well as landscapes.

Category: Currency

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12 Responses to “1901: When US Currency Was Beautiful”

  1. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    They were also ‘United States Notes’.

    I wonder what their credit cards looked like.

  2. ancientone says:

    Great. We have a picture of a Bison, whom we had just hunted almost to extinction; it would be complete with a Passenger Pidgeon flying over him!

  3. Rich in NJ says:

    It would be interesting to see what the buying power of $10 was back then.

    • Chief Tomahawk says:

      Rich, I saw a city ordinance once from around 1915ish on flyer distribution. The penalty was a $100 fine or 30 days in jail. Once upon a time, that may have been a toss up…

  4. mrjohnnyt says:

    valid for all debts public and private EXCEPT INTEREST ON THE PUBLIC DEBT. Hmm. Ron Paul’s first bill in Congress, most likely.

  5. clay says:

    From an antique banknote website: “The range of values for this note would be from $300 to $6000+ for an uncirculated note.” Nice!

  6. ami_in_deutschland says:

    Beautifully adorned by pagan goddesses, a conspicuous absence of “In God we trust” — lovely relics from a time before the fundies took over.

  7. Internet Tourettes says:

    I miss Dutch Gilders, they were truly beautiful….

  8. victor says:

    The phrase “In God We Trust” appears to have originated in “The Star-Spangled Banner”, written during the War of 1812. The fourth stanza includes the phrase, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our Trust.’ It has appeared on most U.S. coins since 1864 and on paper currency since 1957. It is also the motto of the U.S. state of Florida. Its Spanish equivalent, En Dios Confiamos, is the motto of the Republic of Nicaragua. The United States Code at 36 U.S.C. § 302, now states: “‘In God we trust’ is the national motto.” I’m going out on a limb now and assume that you’ll understand the difference between tradition and “fundies”?

  9. Richard W. Kline says:

    Re: the buffalo, that was my exact thought as well. Couldn’t kill them fast enough, then exproriate their image as a symbol of our uniqueness.

  10. znmeb says:

    One other note (pun intended) – the currency of that time was larger in area than today’s paper money. It was the same size as an IBM punch card, which some of you may have seen in a museum. ;-) Actually, it’s the other way around – the punch card was made the same size as a bank note so the same machines could be used for some of the operations on stacks of them.

  11. Cato says:

    Some of the East African currencies, notably the Tanzanian Shilling have fantastic drawings of the classic safaria animals on them. Scottish banknotes are also great, my particular favourite are the Clydesdale notes – there’s something about that knight on the £20 note: http://www.scotbanks.org.uk/banknotes_current_clydesdale_bank.php