• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.

The Legalese On Currency/Bills and Legal Tender

1 post in this topic

I like to study monetary history -- yup, read Friedman & Schwartz' magnus opus in college :D -- and doing some readings the last year or so with books spanning the gold standard to 1921 Recession and The Great Depression.

The changes in the writings concerning gold, silver, and legal tender are fascinating. Even as a young collector (or spender of bills ! :D ) I never really paid too much attention to them but you can see there are big differences and the changes over the years WERE important.

Here's a Gold Certificate, and the seal writings clearly state you are entitled to Gold...and the writing at the bottom of the obverse says gold coin (Eagles, DEs, etc.)

Series 1928 $10 Gold Cert.jpg

Notice that it is good for ALL DEBTS with no exceptions.

Next we have a United States Note (Red Seal) 
which states it is legal tender....for all debts public and private.....but then says "except duties on imports and interest on the national debt."

Series 1928 $5 USN all debts except.jpg

Why these obscure exclusions ? Because the Treasury didn't want a gold drain out of the U.S. so NOT allowing these to be used for duties on imports and interest on the national debt helped towards that goal.

Next up, a 1928 Federal Reserve Note which says that is was redeemable in gold...on demand....at the U.S. Treasury (so you had to goto Washington, DC I guess).

Series 1928 $20 FRN Gold Redeemable.jpg

What I find interesting is that at 1st glance this bill looks like a hybrid: it's a FRN...it's worth $20 dollars ("bearer on demand" language at bottom)...but it has the quasi-gold certificate language above the seal. But while you could get gold at the Treasury, it's unclear if the FRB's that you went to could pay you off with gold or a pair of $10 bills at their choice... or your choice. Again, unless Federal Reserve Bank means a MEMBER bank, then FRB means you would need to goto 1 of the 12 actual physical locations which would be a PITA. :D

Lastly, after we went off the Gold Standard we have this FRN which says that the note is legal tender for ALL debts public and private with no exceptions regarding national debt or imports.

I guess "redeemable in lawful money" (isn't this bill lawful money ?:D ) means a pair of $20's and a $10 bill. Also known as....change !! :D



Edited by GoldFinger1969
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now