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Variations of United States Currency, Various Color Seals and What They Mean

Posted on February 25th, 2020 by JoeG

Green Seal, Maroon Seal, Red Seal, Blue Seal, Yellow/Gold Seal, Silver Certificate Note, National Currency, Hawaii Emergency Issue Note & U.S. North African Currency

We use currency every day in our daily lives, and if you take a look at your paper money you will notice it has a green seal at the right; have you ever wondered why that seal is green, and why it is there? In the past 200 plus years, there were actually different styles of United States currency notes used. The notes that we presently have today are called Federal Reserve Notes, but at one time, there were silver certificates; gold certificates, where banks were obligated to give you the same amount as dictated by the bill in that amount of silver or gold. There were National Currency notes, U.S. Currency Emergency notes printed during times of war. Here are some examples of the different styles of bills and the different color seals and what they represent.

National Currency Charter Bank Notes ( Maroon Seals)

National currency was printed and issued to banks and marked with the state that the issued bank was in. They were a large size and regular small size as our current size notes are today. They could be broken down into four different categories. Charters Banks, and by the three series years they represented 1862-1881, 1882-1908, 1902 which actually had blue and red seals as well as the Maroon seal, there were many different banks printed on these notes and some of the more obscure and scarce banks are rare and valuable.

Hawaii & North Africa Emergency Notes ( Yellow & Blue, and Maroon)

Hawaii emergency notes were issued 1942-1944 during World War ll with the word HAWAII overprinted in maroon across the reverse side as well as with a maroon seal. This was done after the attack on Pearl Harbor with the intent that if Japanese forces invaded Hawaii the bills would be rendered worthless. Hawaii Emergency notes are collectible and the higher the denomination the more collectible.

North African notes had yellow seals on the right with a blue number at the left side.They consisted of 1934A & 1935A notes $1, $5 & $10 notes. Just like the Hawaii emergency notes they were produced by the American government because they were worried that the American money supply could be taken over in an over by a German attack and the currency could be devalued if need be.

Yellow Seal US Dollars (Gold Certificates)

Introduced in 1863, the yellow seal US bank notes were gold certificates. Meaning, that the denomination of banknote was backed by the same amount in gold in the US treasury and that you could exchange that certificate for the gold at a bank in the United States. Which meant that US money was at one time backed by the Gold Standard. These had yellow/gold color seals and also has gold color X’s on them as well. There were several times that the Gold standard was suspended throughout its existence. It was suspended twice during World War I which made it a free-floating currency, similar to the fiat currency that we use and it is today. The gold standard US dollar finally was discontinued in 1933 with the Gold Reserve Acts, which made it illegal for the public to be in possession of gold coins or certificates. In 1964, the act was lifted and the notes could be traded again, however, like the Blue Seal silver certificates ( once backed by silver), gold certificates could no longer be redeemed for their value in gold, and became a collectible for collectors & numismatists.<

Blue Seal US Dollars (Silver Certificates)

Similar to their gold standard counterparts, U.S. silver certificates had a blue seal. These notes first began circulating in 1878 and were backed by the United States stockpile of silver bullion. These certificates could be redeemed for their value in silver. At first, it was through an exchange of the certificate for silver dollar coins and later became an exchange for actual silver bullion. These notes were mainly used and traded in $1, $5, and $10 dollar denominations. In 1963, the notes were discontinued with a deadline of 1968 placed on any remaining silver certificates to be redeemed for their value in silver. These notes are still considered legal tender today but in most cases are valued at their face value and not at the current price of silver, although some examples with interesting serial numbers, mint uncirculated examples or uncut sheets can sometimes bring a little more value to collectors.

Red Seal US Dollars (US Notes)

The red seal dollars are an interesting fare. They were started during the Civil War and were in production for about one hundred years, making them one of the longest produced notes next to the dollar produced by the Federal Reserve. These notes were actual pieces on national debt. Which means they were direct obligations by the US government and that the individual who had them owned a piece of the national debt. These notes went out of circulation in the 1960s and were removed as legal tender in the mid ’90s but are still spendable currency.

Green Seal US Dollars (Federal Reserve Notes)

The bills that we use and spend and save are actually known as Federal Reserve notes. These are the only notes still being actively produced and are also the youngest. First introduced in 1914, these notes are backed by the US government and the 12 Federal Reserve banks within the US prints this money and, by law, must maintain enough assets to balance the notes issued. This currency is not based on any gold or silver standard. It has gone through many transformations like strips, watermarks, etc. in the quest to stay ahead of counterfeiters, but the old versions are still spendable. There was talk that the old versions would be called in and devalued but this has not happened as of yet.

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