Alice Karle Appraisal
Fine & Decorative Art
Creede Colorado Banknote
1892 Brown Back
Auctions for $101,790
Creede Colorado 1892 $5 “Brown Back” National Currency. The Creede National Currency note from 1892 was found in a client’s safety deposit box. Many National Currency notes sell in the range of $200‑$600. The date, condition, and fact that the Creede Colorado banknote came from the early silver mining town where Bat Masterson lived and the assassin of Jesse James, Robert Ford, was himself gunned down, drew my interest. Seeing the serial number “1”, I began to investigate further.
The research showed that the 1892 note was the only known remaining specimen of a banknote, issued by the First National Bank of Creede in Creede Colorado. Located in the last of the silver boom mining camps, the First National Bank of Creede failed after only three years, when silver prices crashed.
Creede Colorado was briefly home to a group of colorful figures who are part of the Legend of the West. These included Calamity Jane, Poker Alice, Bat Masterson, Robert Ford, and the notorious camp boss and bunco artist Soapy Smith.
President Andrew Jackson vetoed the re-chartering of the Second Bank of the United States in 1832. Many felt passionately that the Bank of the United States was corrupt, but the downside was that the United States was left without a central bank. Following the Civil War, reforms were made to help with this situation. Although the central bank was not re-established, the National Bank system was created.
Local banks chartered as members of the National Bank system, were given the authority to issue National Currency banknotes. The banknotes bore the name of the local institution, such as the First National Bank of Creede Colorado, instead of the United States of America, and also bore the designation National Currency. The banknotes were issued by the officers of the local bank, but were backed by the Federal Treasury, an important feature in a time when banks failed frequently and there was no deposit insurance. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 again established a central bank, but the National Bank system continued alongside the Federal Reserve, until it was eliminated in the Banking Act of 1935.