100 Greatest American Currency Notes Series: Early Lincoln Portrait $10 Demand Note of 1861

We have talked about several different types of currency notes so far in our journey covering Whitman Publishing’s 100 Greatest American Currency Notes. One we have yet to talk about just happens to be next in our series. As always, authors Q. David Bowers and David M. Sundman will help us navigate this top 60 pick from the publication.

#60 – Early Lincoln Portrait $10 Demand Note of 1861

Printed by the American Bank Note Co., New York City, the $10 Demand Note of 1861 features the patented “Canada Green” tint that is specific to that firm. The face of the note features a patriotic eagle at the top center from the ABNCo archives which was used on previous state-chartered bills. Abraham Lincoln’s portrait is seen to the left and was adapted from a cabinet photograph by C.S. German. A standing goddess is seen to the right holding an easel.

These types of notes were printed over two million but nearly 2,000 of them remained outstanding as of a 1931 Treasury Department report. In general, Demand Notes are very rare. For this $10 denomination, only 140 examples are known to numismatists according to Marin Gengerke from U.S. Paper Money Records. There is even a rarer type within this denomination featuring the words “for the” in handwriting. In fact, a collection that was auctioned off in 1999 featured 17 different varieties of Demand Notes across several denominations.

Demand Notes were payable at five different federal depositories, including New York City, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Boston, and Cincinnati. Only a few of the notes were sent to Cincinnati and St. Louis, confirming the scarcity of these notes. The $10 Demand Note only saw six in Cincinnati (one with the handwritten “for the”) and four from St. Louis (all with the handwritten “for the”).

In 1960, the historic market value for this note was $600. By this publication (2006), the value rose to $13,000.