National Bank Note Types - Series 1902 Plain Back

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The Act of April 12, 1902 allowed existing National Banks to receive a 20 year extension, and also called for a new series of note designs to be issued. Over the next 28 years, there were 3 distinct types of Series 1902 bank notes issued: 1902 Red Seal, 1902 Date Back and 1902 Plain Back. Plain Backs are by far the most common type of the surviving Series 1902 bank notes, with 80% of the total notes reported. Red Seals are the rarest type with only 5% of the total Series 1902 notes reported, and Date Backs are in the middle with 15%.

Plain Backs were the third of the Series 1902 Types to be issued. These notes used the same front and back designs as the 1902 Date Back series, with the 1902 - 1908 dates removed from the backs, which is why they are called Plain Backs. They were first issued in 1915, after the expiration of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act on June 30, 1915. 1902 Plain Backs were issued to newly chartered National Banks, and were also issued to existing National Banks when their stock of 1902 Date Backs was used up. Unlike previous Series Types, the Bank Serial numbers did not start over at 1 with the new Type. Plain Backs were issued from 1915 through 1929. Series 1902 Plain Backs were issued in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100, and in plate combinations of 5-5-5-5, 10-10-10-10, 10-10-10-20 and 50-50-50-100.

Following are front and back images of 1902 Plain Back notes for each of the 5 denominations issued:

$5 Series 1902 Plain Back issued by First National Bank of Waconia, MN.
$10 Series 1902 Plain Back issued by First National Bank of Paynesville, MN.
$20 Series 1902 Plain Back issued by First National Bank of Beresford, SD.
$50 Series 1902 Plain Back issued by Omaha National Bank of Omaha, NE. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,
$100 Series 1902 Plain Back issued by Pacific National Bank of Los Angeles, CA. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

For an overview of all National Bank Note Types issued between 1863 & 1935, see this article.


  • Don C. Kelly, National Bank Notes, A Guide with Prices. 6th Edition (Oxford, OH: The Paper Money Institute, 2008).
  • Dean Oakes and John Hickman, Standard Catalog of National Bank Notes. 2nd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 1990).
  • Peter Huntoon, United States Large Size National Bank Notes (Laramie, WY: The Society of Paper Money Collectors, 1995).
  • The National Bank Note Census,
  • Heritage Auction Archives,