Series of 1882 $5 Brown Back – Group 1 – Patent Lettering

Series of 1882 $5 Brown Back – Group 1 – Patent Lettering

Group 1 – Patent Lettering

The earliest layouts, used between 1882 and mid-1885, were made using a patent lettering engraving machine which could produce innumerable fonts.  The primary distinguishing features on these notes are (1) a will pay clause that is identical to the one found on Original Series and Series of 1875 $5s, and (2) quaint looking lettering.  There is no end to the styles of letters found within the title blocks on these notes, some of which are grandly elegant, others utilitarian.  In fact, there appear to be at least twenty different rendering of FIVE DOLLARS on these plates.

At least 1,000 banks received group 1 notes.  These designs were attacked as inartistic and mechanical by Bureau critics in the engraving trades.  Consequently Bureau personnel made replacement plates utilizing engraved, more artistic layouts for many of the group 1 plates as workloads permitted.  If you have a note from a given bank with a patent lettering layout, and the bank lasted a while, chances are good that a more modern plate was made.  You just may be able to pair your note with a later variety.  It was luck of the draw what the replacements looked like, because the replacement process continued through the turn of the century.  What ever style was current when the replacement plate was made ended up on new notes.

In an interesting twist, after the furor calmed down, layouts for some new and extended banks in the 1890-3 period used group 1 layouts borrowed from the 1882-5 period.  The latter are distinguishable because they have in-line treasury signatures, and 1890s plate dates.

Patent lettered layouts are avidly sought because they have a decidedly Victorian aesthetic appearance.  One could form a spectacular collection using only notes from this group because the variations are endless.