Editor's note: This series highlights pieces from local antique stores, businesses and collectors. Have a suggestion for a featured item? Email Jasmine at email@example.com.
If you’re expecting to see Alexander Hamilton’s face in the front and center of this $10 bill, look again.
A leaf-lined, circular border contains William McKinley’s face instead. McKinley is shifted over to the left-hand side of the bill to make room for large, blocky print: “First National Bank of Alexandria.”
Local collector Edward Garrison has a series of these $10 bills, which were issued in the early 1900s. He found this particular bill on eBay, but he said there are numerous different series that can be purchased from a variety of sources. Since he’s an Alexandria native, he gravitated toward this collection.
“I'm just a novice collector,” Garrison said. “But I enjoy old coins and paper money. I have a simple collection of ones that are affordable to me and excite me.”
He said he’d been a fan of antique currency for a while before coming across this note marked with an Alexandria tie. The value of each bill can vary and often depends on its condition, but Garrison estimated that this one would be valued between $400 and $500.
Although there are many different series left, only 18 are known to exist of this style. Garrison said larger cities usually have more remaining than smaller towns.
National Bank Notes were issued from 1863 to 1929. Garrison referenced a passage from “A Guide Book of United States Paper Money,” which said that these notes were created by the National Banking Act of 1863, followed by another Act of 1864. This allowed banks to distribute their own notes up to 90% of the value of the government bonds the bank had on deposit.
Garrison said he was drawn to these bills because he thinks the designs of American currency today aren’t as interesting and are rarely changed. On the other hand, when he finds older bills, especially larger-sized bills that circulated before 1929, he sees them as pieces of art.
“I just thought this was a cool piece that many people don't know existed,” Garrison said. “Just thinking of all the different hands they’ve passed through and what they were used to buy is fun to think about. On top of that, having one with your hometown name on the actual bill, just creates a neat piece.”