Demand Notes

Demand Notes were the first type of widely-issued Federal paper currency, produced in $5, $10 and $20 denominations. Initially issued in 1861, during the Civil War, Demand Notes bore no interest, and were used in lieu of coinage to pay Union soldiers and government employees. They were redeemable in gold at the U.S. Treasury. While initially unpopular and viewed with suspicion, their distinctive green backs gave rise to the enduring term “greenback.” Following the first issuance of Legal Tender notes in 1862 (which were not redeemable in gold), they became highly sought-after, and traded at a premium over their face value, quickly disappearing from circulation. The $10 note bore a portrait of then-President Abraham Lincoln. All Demand Notes are scarce to rare today.