1861 Five Dollar Demand Note

US currency Five Dollar Demand Note 1861
Early United States Paper Money $5 Demand Note 1861 Boston
United States five dollar bill Greenback
United States paper money - 1861 Five Dollar Demand Note Boston.

Obverse: Thomas Crawford’s statue of Freedom on top of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Bust of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, 1789–1795. 1861 five dollar bills have red serial numbers and they have a green print on the front showing a large five.
Reverse: United States of America Five Dollars. Printed in green. The green reverses of the Demand Notes are the origin of the term ‘Greenback’ as applied to U.S. paper money in general.

Inscriptions:  American Bank Note Co. New York  -  Five  -  The United States Promise To Pay 5 Dollars To The Bearer on Demand  -  Washington  -  Aug. 10th 1861  -  Payable by the Assistant Treasurer of the United States at  -  Act of July 17. 1861  -  For The Register Of The Treasury  -  For The Treasurer Of The United States  -  Patented 30 June 1857  -  United States of America Five Dollars


The term “Greenback” for United States paper money originated with the issue of the Demand Notes of 1861. These Demand Notes are the first and earliest issue of United States currency as we know it.
   They were issued in denominations of 5, 10 and 20 Dollars only, authorized by the Congressional Acts of July 17 and August 5, 1861, with an additional authorization in the Act of February 12, 1862. All notes bear the first date, “Act of July 17, 1861” and also the additional date of “Aug. 10th, 1861,” which is an arbitrary date for the plate.
The notes were issued to the public on August 26, 1861.
   Demand Notes are unique among large size United States currency in that they alone bear neither the Treasury Seal nor the actual names of the Treasurer and Register of the Treasury. They also have the serial number imprinted only once.
   Sixty million dollars in currency was authorized to be issued by the above Acts. This was a very large sum for those days and involved the printing and signing of several million actual notes. At that time, a situation arose which was unprecedented.
   The first plates made for the various denominations had blank spaces for two signatures, and below these spaces were engraved “Register of the Treasury” and “Treasurer of the United States.”
   These two busy and important Treasury officials obviously could not sit down and personally autograph several million notes. Therefore, a large staff of clerks from the Treasury Department was employed to sign their own names for the two officials. The way the plates were worded made it necessary for these clerks to write also the words ‘For the’ in addition to their own name.
   It quickly became apparent that this additional wording was both wasteful and inefficient and the plates were at once changed so that the finished printed note read as follows, “For the Register of the Treasury” and “For the Treasurer of the United States.”
   Compared to the total amount of notes issued, those released to the public before the plates were changed were small in number. Today, only a few survive and they are of the highest rarity and greatest historical interest.
   The obligation on the Demand Notes is as follows. “The United States promise to pay to the bearer. . . . . Dollars on demand. . . . Payable by the Assistant Treasurer of the United States at (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Cincinnati or St. Louis). Receivable in payment of all public dues.”

1861 "Dollars on Demand" Issue

5 Dollar Note     10 Dollar Note     20 Dollar Note