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Currency Appraisal and Old Paper Money Dealer
Greg Davis

Series 1862 Legal Tender Greenbacks

In 1862 the Federal government issued currency for the first time in the form of the 1862 series Legal Tender note. The $1.00 in the series came to be known as the greenback giving us a nickname that is still in use today. 1862 Legal tenders were printed on very thin paper so high grade examples are very rare. The following denominations were issued in 1862: $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, $20.00, $50.00 and $100.00. $50.00 and $100.00 notes are very scarce and are pretty valuable when they do turn up.


Series 1862 $1 Legal Tender - Nicknamed "The Greenback" Series 1862 $1 Legal Tender Greenback

Series 1862 Legal Tender bills were the first Federally issued notes. They came to be nicknamed greenbacks for the color of the back. These notes were printed on paper that was very fragile so it's common to find them in horribly compromised condition. Happily they also come in uncirculated condition often as well. A nice example will cost about $400.00 to $700.00. A range of values for this note would be $200 for a rag and can reach several thousand for a Gem.


Series 1862 $2 Legal Tender Series 1862 $2 Legal Tender

It's amazing that over 1000 examples of the 1862 $2.00 Legal Tender notes are known to exist and in all grades. A nice mid-grade note will sell for about $800 to $1000. The notes are commonly found in low grade and often with edge tears. The paper on these was much less robust than the paper for all other issues. A range of values for this note would be $300 for a rag and go up to five figures for a perfect example.


Series 1862 $5 Legal Tender Series 1862 $5 Legal Tender

The vignettes start to get more interesting on the 1862 $5.00. The picture on the left is an image of Freedom that sits on top of the capitol building in Washington DC. These notes were saved in pack form so uncirculated examples are readily available. A nice mid-grade note will cost about $600 to $800. The range of values for this note would be between $200 and $5000.


Series 1862 $10 Legal Tender. Series 1862 $10 Legal Tender

The 1862 $10.00 bill is the first note where we see the spread eagle motif. This eagle and the one in the $100 are very distictive to this series and provide a nice design. The $10.00 is where the scarcity starts to set in. The $1, $2 and $5 are all easily available in high grade. Not so the $10. When they are found they tend to be rags... also, they were heavily counterfeited so it's hard to tell if you have a real note that is well worn or a counterfeit that was made old as a part of the fraud. The values for these notes will range from $300 for a rag to five figures for a perfect note.


Series 1862 $20 Legal Tender. Series 1862 $20 Legal Tender

With less than 80 known the 1862 $20.00 Legal Tender notes are not easy to come by and will be pricy when they are found. A rare note and very expensive in high grade. Even in low grade they will be costly. A range of values for this note would be from $700 to $6000 or so. Oddly, the highest graded notes from this series is an About Uncirculated. If you were to get one of these into an uncirculated holder it would not surprise me if it was a five figure note.


Series 1862 $50 Legal Tender Series 1862 $50 Legal Tender

The 1862 $50.00 bill is a very rare form with less than 25 known. Because of that rarity it's an expensive note. Even a wretched example will bring thousands and the highest graded notes are well into the five figure territory. This is another note where counterfeits are known. One has to be careful when buying this series. If you have an 1862 $50 and want to know if it's a legitimate issue, please send a picture to me.


Series 1862 $100 Legal Tender Series 1862 $100 Legal Tender

An extremely rare and majestic note the 1862 $100.00 bill is sometimes called the Spread Eagle and it's an iconic design There are about 25 known to exist so when they come to auction it gets peoples attention. The guys that clash over notes like this are always fun to watch. The range of values on this note would be 20k for a rag and heading up about 50k for a mid grade note. There are no uncirculated notes known in this series. If one were to surface I think it would be a six figure note.

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