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Early Paper Money of America / New York / 1784, etc., Bank of New York

The Bank of New York began to operate in New York City on June 9, 1784 as a modest unincorporated private banking operation. An application for a charter from the New York legislature in 1785 was unsuccessful but on March 21, 1791 incorporation was granted. This bank is still in operation. Its early presidents were Alexander McDougall (1784-5), Jeremiah Wadsworth (1785-6), Isaac Roosevelt (1786-91), Gulian Verplanck (1791-9), and Nicholas Gouverneur (1799-1802). Its early cashiers were William Seton (1784-94) and Charles Wilkes (1794-1825). All of these officers signed its early bank notes except Jeremiah Wadsworth. The first type of bank notes issued beginning in June 1784 was payable in specie (Spanish) dollars and aggregated $234,520. The denomination in capital letters was in the left side border panel. Printed on laid paper watermarked BANK OF NEW YORK. The counterfeit £4 has forged watermarked paper.

When the State of New York issued paper money pursuant to the Act of April 18, 1786, the Bank of New York issued undated bank notes payable in such State currency. These were termed “paper notes” and were a combination of an engraved top border, an engraved left side denomination shield, and a typeset text. The engraving was probably done by William Rollinson, as they are quite similar in design to post notes engraved by him for use of the Bank.

£4 ▷CF◁

Low dollar denomination bank notes payable in specie were issued between 1786 and 1791.

$1 $2 $3 $4

After incorporation in 1791 three new fully engraved currency plates were used containing two counters at the top and a spelled out fanciful denomination in the left panel.

Low denomination plate:   $5 ▷CF◁  $10         $15         $20 ▷CF◁
High denomination plate:   $30 $40 ▷CF◁  $50 $100
Highest denomination plate: $300 $400 $500 $1,000

In 1795 a new four subject plate of $5 and $10 notes was engraved by William Harrison, Sr. Of this and the prior issue almost $3,500,000 were emitted by the Bank of New York during the eighteenth century and further styles of notes continued to be issued until all bank notes were taxed out of existence in 1864.
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