The first $100 notes were issued by the Federal Government in the 1860s. These early notes featured different designs for each currency type. Silver Certificates, United States Notes, and National Bank Notes, such as those displayed here, all looked different but used similar design elements. Faces generally featured images of well-known American events, public figures, or themes. Back designs utilized intricate patterns of ornament, text, and numbers.
The face of the $100 Silver Certificate, Series 1878, featured a portrait of James Monroe. The $100 United States Note, Series 1880, featured a portrait of Abraham Lincoln and an image entitled “Reconstruction.” The Series 1882 National Bank Note used two vignettes: “Commodore Perry’s Victory” (also known as “Battle of Lake Erie”) on the left side of the note and “Union” on the right.
The back of the 1878 Silver Certificate boldly declared the currency type in large, decorative letters. The back of the 1880 United States Note incorporated text and numerals to denote the denomination.