1 Dollar Northern Bank of Kentucky Note, 1856

The Northern Bank of Kentucky in Lexington issued this one dollar bank note on May 3, 1856. The note was printed by Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Company of Philadelphia, which was well known for printing both currency and stamps during the 1850s. The center of the note depicts a pastoral scene with an allegorical image of Progress holding the bank’s charter, with Lexington’s railroad and skyline in the background. Two portraits of unknown persons are at the upper left and right of the note, with a portrait of George Washington at the lower right. The note is signed by the bank’s cashier, A. F. Hawkins, and its president, M. T. Scott. Notes that had been printed were not considered valid until the note was signed.
From 1790 to 1863, states and private banks issued their own currency to supply capital in a young nation without a national currency. This currency was backed by the hard money the banks had on deposit, and was only used locally where the bank and its operators were trusted in the community. However, banks often oversupplied notes, and this overextension caused bankruptcy among private and state banks when financial panic struck, particularly in 1837. Currencies from these failed banks are known as “obsolete bank notes” or “broken bank notes,” and several are held in the National Numismatic Collection.
Currently not on view
date made
Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co.
place issued
United States: Kentucky
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 7.4 cm x 18.2 cm x .01 cm; 2 29/32 in x 7 5/32 in x in
ID Number
accession number
collector/donor number
catalog number
serial number
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
American Enterprise
Coins, Currency and Medals
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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