f you read my blog post from July 2014 you might enjoy this update. I have also included images of $5, $10 and $20 Demand Notes to give you a sense and to illustrate the incredible artwork used on some U.S. paper money.
The first U.S. paper money under the constitution dates from 1861 when Demand Notes were issued. Since the first paper money was issued in 1861 until now, all currency issued by the U.S. government has remained valid as legal tender.
This is unique among world-wide currencies, no other nation can boast of an unbroken series of currency issues. The 3 Cent Fractional Currency Note of 1869 is still able to buy a 3 cent stamp and a $1,000 Dollar Note of 1869 can still purchase $1,000 of goods or services today. Only once has the U.S. government ever recalled any of its paper currency for any reason, or mandated its exchange for other types of paper money. This was in 1933 when the Gold Reserve Act required all holders of Gold Certificates to surrender them for ordinary currency. However not all Gold Certificates were surrendered, they can still be exchanged even though they are no longer redeemable in gold coin.
As mentioned earlier, Demand Notes were the first and earliest issue of U.S. currency. They were issued in denominations of $5, $10 and $20, authorized by congressional acts of July 17, 1861 and August 7, 1861 with an additional authorization by congressional act of February 12, 1862. All Demand Notes bear the first date, Act of July 7, 1861 or August 10th, 1861 (an arbitrary date for the printing plate). The notes were issued to the public on August 26, 1861.
Demand Notes are unique among “large size” U.S. currency in that the notes do not include the treasury seal or 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 Acts, a VERY large sum of money for those days and resulted in the printing and signing of several million actual notes. The term “Greenback” for U.S. paper money originated with the issue of the Demand Notes of 1861 due to the green color used on the back of the notes.