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Obsolete Bank Notes are a fascinating period of United States paper money to collect. Before Abraham Lincoln introduced the National Banking Act in 1860, most all banks had state charters. As such, they were allowed to issue their own bank notes, essentially a form of I.O.U. that facilitated local trade. Each note was supposed to be backed by hard specie (gold or silver coin), but sometimes they weren't and the system experienced bank failures as well as outright swindles from banks that never existed. Operating banks converted from state charter to national charter in 1860 and those old notes become "obsolete." They are highly prized by collectors for their artwork and rarity. Many obsolete bank notes collectors focus on a region or a state. Because of the time period they were issued in, notes issued in states further south and further west are more rare than notes from the Northeast.

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