From 5 to 66 thousand dollars is a huge distance, right? However, it gets quite short when I tell you that there are valuable $5 bills that sell for that amount, and even more money. $5 bills that collectors love.
In this article we review the history and types of $5 bills that exist, and how valuable they are. I assure you that you will find surprises that will leave you with your mouth open, and a tremendous desire to have one in your wallet.
These are valuable collectible $5 bills
Before we begin to review each of the $5 bills that exist, let me clarify something. You are unlikely to have in a drawer at home any of the most expensive specimens that we will see from here on. However, it is good to know them, in case you come across one of these in the future.
The first 5 dollar bills in 1861
In 1861 the first 5 dollar bills were printed in the United States under the Demand Note system. Previously, continental 5-dollar bills had been created, but those were not strictly speaking dollars.
These $5 bills, along with the $10 and $20 denominations, were printed to finance the cost of the Civil War in which the United States was engaged. The obverse features a portrait of Alexander Hamilton and the Statue of Liberty in the Capitol. On the reverse an abstract design where the color green predominates.
Few of the 1861 $5 bills are available, and most of them are in less than optimal condition. Even so, these bills are worth between 2500 and 22500 US dollars . However, a specimen in “Extremely Fine” quality was auctioned at Heritage Auction for 81 thousand dollars .
Then, in 1862 and 1863 more Demand Note banknotes are printed. The obverse remains the same, but the design of the reverse changes significantly. It basically includes the dollar Obligation of Payment that the government promised to pay back to those who wanted to exchange their bills.
The value of these banknotes varies between $400 and $3,500 depending on their state of preservation. Needless to say, a specimen certified by PMG exceeds this value and can reach a price of more than 10 thousand dollars at auctions or numismatic stores.
5 dollar bills from 1869
In 1869 the $5 Legal Note type bills were redesigned. Now the obverse shows the portrait of Andrew Jackson and a vignette representing the Pioneer Family. These bills are known as “Rainbow Note” or Rainbow Notes.
For collectors who want to get their hands on an 1869 $5 bill, the price to be paid ranges from $380 to $3500 . A striking detail of these bills is the star in the serial number, which is merely decorative.
5 dollar bills from 1875
The next redesign of the $ 5 bills arrives in 1875. Actually, more than a redesign, it would be an adjustment of the previous design. The obverse remains quite the same, with some variation in the colors and other minor elements. However, the reverse changes quite a bit, although it maintains some coherence with the 1869 banknotes.
This 5 dollar design is maintained until 1907. In this period several printings are printed, so the availability of specimens is greater. Prices range from $145 for a specimen in acceptable condition, up to $3,000 for a bill in good or very good condition.
5 dollar bills from 1928
In 1928 something very important for American numismatics occurred, and that is that all banknotes to date changed to a standard design and dimensions. The $5 bills are no exception. In fact, these bills, along with the $10 and $20 bills, were the first to be issued.
By the way, all types of bills were redesigned. The legal notes, and the other types of $5 bills I’ll tell you about later.
These 1928 $5 bills have Lincoln on the obverse, the reserve seal on the left and a large FIVE on the right. On the reverse is a front view of the Lincoln Memorial.
For collectors of coins and banknotes, it is quite easy to get hold of common 1928 $5 notes at a low price. Bills with stars in the serial number are more valuable, fetching up to $4,000 .
5 dollar bills from 1953 and 1963
In 1953, some adjustments were made to the design of the $5 bill, which are worth remembering.
On the obverse the Treasury Seal changes from the left to the right of Lincoln, and is superimposed on the FIVE it had before. On the left side of the bill a number 5 is added, and above it the note “THIS NOTE IS A LEGAL TENDER AT ITS FACE VALUE FOR ALL DEBTS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE”.
The reverse side remains intact, but 10 years later the phrase “IN GOD WE TRUST” is added. For this reason it is said that the 5 bills before this date is atheist money.
There are many 1953 and 1963 5’s available to collectors, so their price is relatively low on the numismatic market. Let’s just say that no common specimen exceeds $100 . If they have a star on the serial number then they may cost a little more.
Redesign of the 5-dollar bill in 1999
1999 arrives and the $5 bill is redesigned in a rather profound way. In fact, it gives the impression that details are purposely eliminated to make it cleaner and more minimalist.
On the obverse, the portrait of Lincoln is reframed, and slightly shifted from center to left. In addition to the Treasury seal, a Federal Reserve seal is added. The cleaner, silkier aesthetic also comes to the reverse, and the two “FIVE” in the base are transformed into numerals.
Needless to say, uncirculated specimens of these years are abundant. The 1999 $5 bills that may have some value are those of replacement. That is, with a star in their serial number.
Most recent redesign of the 5 dollars
The most recent redesign of the 5 dollar bill took place in 2006. Once again, the schemes were broken and many elements were affected by the visual transformation of the bill.
On the obverse the area containing Lincoln disappeared, and an aurea of stars was added in its place. The eagle of the U.S. coat of arms was added as a sort of watermark. On the obverse, the oval frame of the Lincoln Memorial was replaced with clouds simulating the figure. The phrase “IN DOG WE TRUST” is no longer on a ribbon, but floats above the building.
Hardly a banknote with this design has collectible value; unless it has a serial number sought by collectors or a printing error. However, I do not know of any specimens in this situation so far.
Other types of collectible and valuable 5 dollar bills
In addition to the Notal Legal type bills you just saw, there were other types of $5 bills that are more sought after by collectors. These are the real valuable $5 bills:
Banknotes of 5 types National Banks
The National Bank Notes is a type of American paper money that was printed in an authorized form by banks in different states. This type of banknotes was issued, with different designs between 1863 and the decade of the 30’s of the XX century when they were withdrawn from circulation.
Perhaps the most emblematic National Bank 5 dollar bill is the 1875 note. On the obverse of this issue, on the left is Colon at the moment he sighted land, and on the right is the presentation of America in the Old World. The reverse shows Columbus again, but this time disembarking with his men.
The cheapest $5 National Bank bills of 1875 do not go below $850 . The most valuable specimen I know of recently sold for $66,000 . Total insanity at that price.
5 dollars of National Gold Banks
The gold National Bank Notes were bills authorized and issued by 9 U.S. Banks, and were backed by gold. Along with the $5 gold bills, there were other denominations of $10, $20, $50, $50, $100 and 500 dollars bill. Gold bills of 1000 dollars were also designed, but were never issued.
These bills are extremely rare today, and coveted by collectors. To give you an idea, a $5 Gold National Bank bill sold for $43,200 very recently at Haritage Auction.
5 Dollar Silver Certified Banknotes
The Certified Silver 5 Dollar Banknotes were printed in the United States between 1886 and 1967. During this period we can find different designs, but all under the same denomination backed by silver.
There are two types of Silver Certified $5 bills. The large ones issued before 1928, and the small ones after this date. The change is due to the standardization process that the North American money underwent, which I mentioned earlier in this article.
A wide variety of $5 Silver Certificate bill designs are available to collectors. However, two specimens in particular are in high demand and command eye-catching prices.
5 dollar bills Educational Series
The obverse of these issues features an allegory of electricity as the light of the world. The obverse features and highlights the portraits of Ulysses Grant and Philip Sheridan. Both are very important figures in the history of the United States.
A $5.00 copy of the Educational Series, certified and uncirculated, can fetch upwards of $18,000 . In fact, in 2066 a copy of these characteristics was sold at Haritage Auction for 18,400 US dollars .
Running Antelope $5 bill
This $5 bill is currently also known as the “Running Antelope”. In a $5 Silver Certified issue with Blue Seal very beautiful and in demand by collectors.
With the Indian Chief bill, a Native American is depicted for the first time in the numismatic history of the United States. This issue was described in 1978 as “the high point in American paper money design” in Coin: The Magazine of Coin Collecting.
The history of this bill is fantastic, as well as that of “Running Antelope”, the native that appears on it. It is totally justified then that collectors lose their heads over these Silver Certificates, paying up to 12 thousand US dollars for them.
5$ Treasury Note type bills
The Treasury Notes bills are composed of two series, in which bills of various denominations were issued. From 1 dollar bills, up to 1,000 dollars. Of course, $5 Treasury Note bills are also included.
On the obverse of these banknotes is a portrait of General George H. Tomas. This is the only non-abstract visual element on the paper money. The rest of the details, on obverse and reverse, are decorative and security details. The 1890 and 1891 $5 bills differ primarily on the reverse.
The value of these banknotes ranges from US$380 to US$22,000 for some rare specimens in good condition. Some in very good condition can be worth more than 55 thousand US dollars .
5 dollar bills Federal Reserve
Federal Reserve Notes were issued in the United States between 1915 and 1934. Specifically, the 5 dollar bills were printed in 1915 and then in 1929. The 1915 issues are large in size, while the others printed in 1929 were designed according to the standard measures imposed the year before.
This $5 Treasury Note features Lincoln on the obverse. On the reverse are two vignettes. On the left, Columbus and his men sighting land. On the other side, the Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock.
The $5 Treasury Notes are traded on the numismatic market for approximately $200 and $4500 , depending on the issuing Bank and the state of preservation. A certified and uncirculated specimen could cost up to $8,000 .
How much is a $5 star bill worth?
The $5 bills with stars can be worth up to 5 times the value of a regular $5 bill of this denomination. Of course, the value depends on other factors such as year, design, demand for the bill and condition. This brings us to the next question:
Why does the star in the serial number make the banknote more valuable?
The question that often comes up for people new to coin and bill collecting is why American bills with stars in the serial number are so valuable. The answer is simpler than you might imagine, and it has to do with the money’s production process.
By law, 2 U.S. bills cannot have the same serial number. Although there are known cases where this has happened, for example, the duplicate $1 bills currently in circulation, the truth is that these things should not happen.
Then, when for some error or other reason a run of banknotes that went wrong is discarded, when the printing is repeated, a star is added to the serial number. Logically, banknotes with stars are always smaller in quantity than those without stars. Therefore, these banknotes are scarce and have a high collectible value.
Which of these bills would you like to have?
I am quite a fan of the Educational Series bills. I would love to have one in my collection, but I would like to know which one you would keep. You can leave me a comment telling me which issue is your favorite.
If you liked the article, you can share it on your social networks or pass it on to your friends. Surely they will enjoy reading it as much as you did, and it can certainly become the topic of your next dinner or weekend outing.
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