In the 1800s, the United States was still a relatively young country, and its currency reflected that. The money of that time was very different from what we use today, both in terms of design and value. Let’s take a closer look at old American money from the 1800s.

What were demand notes

One of the most iconic images of old American money from the 1800s is the large, ornate bills. These bills were much bigger than modern-day currency and were printed on paper that was thicker and more durable.

They were also more colorful, featuring intricate designs and engravings that were a testament to the fine craftsmanship of the era.

Another defining characteristic of 1800s American money was the denominations. Back then, it was not uncommon to have bills in denominations of $500, $1,000, or even $10,000.

These large bills were primarily used for transactions between banks, and not for everyday use by the public. However, they still circulated, and some people even used them to purchase high-value items such as cars or real estate.

All about Greenback bills

One of the most famous types of old American money from the 1800s was the “greenback.” These bills were issued during the Civil War and were the first currency in US history to feature the motto “In God We Trust.”

They were also called “greenbacks” because of the green ink used to print the backs of the bills.


During the latter part of the 1800s, the government began to move away from paper money and towards the use of gold and silver coins.

The value of these coins was based on the weight and purity of the metal, and they were often used for everyday transactions.

Despite the shift towards coins, paper money still had its place in the American economy. The government continued to issue bills in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, and 20 dollar, and these bills were in circulation until the early 1900s.