If Notes Could Talk
Wow – if notes could talk, Large Size Legal Tender – Bison notes wouldn’t just talk, they’d sing!!
So what exactly is a “Bison” note? Bison is the designated name given to the $10.00 1901 series of Legal Tender Notes. Contrary to popular believe, the Black Diamond, an American Bison that is shown on this stunning note is not from the great western prairies but rather he is (or was) an inhabitant of the New York City Central Park Zoo. On the right and left sides of the note you’ll see featured portraits of Meriweather Lewis (left) and William Clark (right). The Bison Legal Tender Note is the only one to mention the legal provision (center lower front) that allowed the note to be issued.
Bison are huge, weighing up to a ton. They are fast, dangerous, and endangered. Bison symbolize size, strength, prosperity, beauty and sacred blessing. As an image the Bison (also known as the American Buffalo) is used in North America in official names, logos, seals, and symbols. For example, the US Department of Interior has a bison as its symbolic representative. In addition to the $10 “Bison” Legal Tender currency, a number of US coins include the bison including the buffalo nickel (1913 – 1928) several state quarters (Kansas, North Dakota) and the Yellowstone National Park Quarter. Though US postage stamps have been issued with bison depictions, I know of no other legal item of currency, other than the “Bison Note” Large Size Legal Tender I’ve described.
Bison notes are extremely popular, sought-after, and rare.
And why is it called “large size?” In 1928, the BEP (Bureau of Engraving and Printing) reduced by about 40% the dimension of their notes to their current size. That’s why we refer to older notes as “large size” notes. They are, indeed, large!
So if notes could talk, what indeed would our Bison notes tell us about the founding of our American West?
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For a look at more Legal Tender Notes:
See this link for Idaho information: