5 Dollars, Kirtland Safety Society Bank, Ohio, United States, 1837

5 Dollars, Kirtland Safety Society Bank, Ohio, United States, 1837

Usage conditions apply
The Kirtland Safety Society Bank of Kirtland, Ohio, issued this five dollar note on February 10, 1837. The note’s plates are printed by Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty of Philadelphia. The note is decorated with a central motif of a man seated on a log with a dog. The identical end panels depict a young boy with a shovel over his shoulder. The note is signed by the bank’s cashier, Joseph Smith, and its president, Sidney Rigdon.
The Kirtland Safety Society Bank was formed by Joseph Smith and other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on November 2, 1836. The bank’s constitution established the capital stock of four million dollars, a severe overextension of the available specie in the area. With the closing of the Second Bank of the United States in 1836, many states allowed “free banking,” however, Ohio still required banks to be granted a charter from the state legislature. When Ohio’s legislature declined a charter for Kirtland, the officers formed their own “anti” bank. Like many banks at the time, the Kirtland Safety Society Bank failed spectacularly in the general financial crisis of 1837.
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 many are held in the National Numismatic Collection.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date on object
date made
issuing authority
Kirtland Safety Society Bank
place made
United States: Ohio, Kirtland
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 7.8 cm x 17.4 cm x.01 cm; 3 1/16 in x 6 27/32 in x in
ID Number
accession number
serial number
catalog number
Credit Line
Schlein, Richard S.
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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