Treasury Notes

Treasury Notes were made in two series. The series of 1890 and the series of 1891. The 1890 notes have ornate backs with the denomination of the bill spelled out. The 1891 have a more open back style just like silver certificates went to an open back style in 1891.

This is a chart of year, signature, seal type, and denomination as it relates to the Freidberg number. The tougher varieties for each denomination are in bold. As you can see, the 1890 Large Brown seal with Rosecrans and Nebeker signatures is always a key note. And the Lyons Roberts, which only exists on the $5 is tough as well.

Coin Notes table

The 1890 $1′, $2’s, $5’s, $10’s, and $20’s come with large brown seals and small red seals. You can have Rosecrans and Huston with a large brown  seal or Rosecrans and Nebeker with a large brown seal or a small red seal. In general, the Rosecrans and Nebeker with the large brown seal is the tough note for the denomination.

None of the $1’s is particularly tough. The Rosecrans and Nebeker with a large brown seal has less than 100 notes known to exist and is the toughest of the three notes. The large brown seals are more popular in general and will be more expensive. In extremely fine a 1890 $1 will run a few thousand dollars. In gem they will be over $10,000.

1409070 front           1409070 reverse





For the $2’s, the Rosecrans and Neberker with the large brown seal has less than 50 examples known to exist. An extremely fine 1890 $2 will be roughly $5,000. A gem will cost in the mid five figures.

1511168 front

1511168 reverse

The 1890 $5’s have a very rare note in Freidberg 360, the Rosecrans and Nebeker large brown seal. There are less than 20 known! A nice VF will be mid-five figures. A gem will be six figures. Other than that rarity you can get an XF for a few thousand and a gem for the lower five figures.

1890 $5 FR-359 PCGS VCH CU64 SN-A331890 $5 FR-359 PCGS VCH CU64 SN-A33 Rev

The 1890 $10’s have the usual key note of the large brown seal Rosecrans and Nebeker, but there are over 35 of these known. An XF for the type will be roughly $5,000 and a gem will be a bit over $10,000.

1108089 front1108089 reverse

The 1890 $20 used to come up a lot less than it does nowadays, thanks to a hoard of 1880 era large size that hit the market around 2010. They are still really neat. The large brown seal Rosecrans and Nebeker has only about a dozen pieces known. If you want an XF it will be low five figures. A gem would be mid five figures. And that’s if you could find those grades.

1890 $20 FR-372 PMG 65 EPQ EX-Bluestone, Mehl and Schermerhorn1890 $20 FR-372 PMG 65 EPQ EX-Bluestone, Mehl and Schermerhorn Reverse

There are $50-$1000 Treasury notes, but I’ll leave that for another post. They are very rare, and are going to be at least six figures for the type.

For the 1891’s you can only have small red seals. There are four possible signature combinations for all the denominations. The 1891 $1’s, $2’s and $10’s have Rosecrans/Nebeker, Tillman/Morgan, and Bruce/Roberts. The 1891 $20’s don’t have the Rosecrans/Nebeker. And the $5’s also have the Lyons/Roberts signature.

An XF $1 1891 will cost under $1000 as I write this. A gem will be less than $2500 as I write this. You have the three signature combinations of Rosecrans/Nebeker, Tillman/Morgan, and Bruce/Roberts. The Tillman/Morgan is the easiest, but none of them are tough.

1409071 front

1409071 reverse

The 1891 $2 has the same signatures as the $1. An XF will be a few thousand, a gem would be in the mid four figures. $2 is a very popular denomination among collectors. These are much harder to get than the $1’s, but there are roughly 200 examples known of the tougher numbers and over 600 known of the Tillman/Morgan.

1309049 front

1309049 reverse

The $5 is cool in that it has the standard three signatures, but also has a Lyons and Roberts signature as well. Out of all the lower denomination 1891 Treasurys this and a rare $20 are the keys. The Lyons/Roberts has less than 30 example known, compared to at least 100-300 for the other three signature combinations. If you just want the type, an XF will run a little less than $2000 as I write this. A gem will be in the lower four figures.

1202141 front

1202141 reverse

The $10’s cost roughly what the $5’s cost. They have the same three signature combinations as the $1’s and $2’s. There are no rarities in 1891 $10s if you just want an example. The Bruce/Roberts has a little over 60 known as I write this. And is very difficult in gem. I’ll go by the availability of notes in uncirculated in a future post.

1206072 front1206072 reverse

The 1891 $20’s are where I start to think these notes are really cool. You essentially only have the Tillman/Morgan signature combination because there are only TWO Bruce/Roberts known to exist! The Bruce/Roberts is going to be a six figure not no matter what. The Tillman/Morgan is going to be mid-four figures for a nice VF. There are not a lot of XF’s and AU’s out there. But you can get a gem for a bit over $10,000.

1891 $20 FR-375 PMG CU65 EPQ1891 $20 FR-375 PMG CU65 EPQ rev

That’s it for the $1-$20 Treasury Notes. In the future I’ll go deeper into each denomination. I’ll say what is available in what grades Friedberg by Friedberg, so you can better strategize how to put together your Friedberg collection instead of just your type set.

Introduction to Large Size Type

We say “Large Size Type” when we are speaking of notes from 1861-1928 because they are physically bigger than notes made today. In 1928 the US started making notes in their current size. Large Size Type are popular to collect as they have a great variety of designs which are drastically different than anything found in the last eighty five years. Also, everything now is a Federal Reserve Note. That means the Federal Reserve Bank promises to back the value of the note. This has been the case since the 1960’s, but before then notes were backed by a variety of things including physical silver and gold.

There are 6 major types of notes that are considered Large Size Type:

  • Legal Tender

1303430 front

  • Silver Certificates

1508379 front

  • Treasury Notes

1511168 front

  • Federal Reserve Bank Notes

1602121 front


  • Federal Reserve Notes

1203433 front


  • Gold Notes

1404098 front


In the future, I’ll get into the details of each type. For now we’ll just hit the basics of each one. One thing to realize is that years on US currency is different than coins. For coins, the year on the coin is the year the coin was made. For currency, the year on the note is the year the note was authorized by Congress. So if you were born in 1970 and want a note dated 1970, you are out of luck. They were still making 1969 notes until 1974.

Legal Tender are just obligations on the government of the United States of America. They range from series of 1862 to series of 1923.

Silver Certificates were able to be redeemed for physical silver. These are among the most popular notes out there. They range from very expensive to very inexpensive. And there are many different designs. They range from series of 1878 to series of 1923.

Treasury Notes were able to be redeemed for either Silver or Gold. They were made in series of 1890-1891.

Federal Reserve Bank Notes are obligations on an individual Federal Reserve Bank. They come in years of 1918 for all denominations, and 1915 as well for $5’s, $10’s, and $20’s.

Federal Reserve Notes are obligations on the entire Federal Reserve system. They are the currency that looks the most similar to notes in circulation today. They are all the series of 1914, except denominations of $500 and $1000 which are the series of 1918.

Gold Certificates were able to be redeemed to physical gold. They all have a beautiful gold color. There were some early years made, but the ones that are not fantastically rare were make from the series of 1886 until the series of 1922.

Those are the basics of Large Size Type. In the future we’ll get into each one in more detail.