National Bank Notes of Berlin, NH
The historic Berlin NH National Bank on Post Office Square in 1892
This very scarce $5 Brown Back note from the Berlin National Bank is
one of only three known to exist
I recently found this interesting photo from 1892 showing the new building of the Berlin (NH) National Bank that opened in 1892 on Post Office Square. By the gathered crowd in the photo, I am guessing this was opening day. The Post Office was located in the office to the right, leasing space from the bank. On the 2nd floor, offices were rented out, and a clubroom for the Maynesboro Club was located on the top floor. Fellow New Hampshire numismatist Q. David Bowers and I have been working for a number of years on a history of paper currency in New Hampshire, and I purchased the photo of the bank to use in that book. The $5 Brown Back note shown is from a private collection and is very scarce. Only 3 Brown Backs from this bank have been reported to exist, with all 14 other known large-size notes from this bank being the later 1902 Date Back and Plain Back series.
In 1892, the population of Berlin was around 3,000 people and the dominant business was the Berlin Mills, a paper company. The mill changed its name to Brown Company during World War I, when German names like Berlin were not popular. Interestingly, the city never changed its name. The signers of the illustrated $5 note were the founding cashier Albert H. Eastman, and founding president Alfred R. Evans. Berlin remained a paper mill town until quite recently. With the sale of the mills by the Brown Company several years ago, it is a town in transition. Berlin’s population is now less than 10,000 – down from a high of more than 30,000 when the paper mills were at their peak. It’s located about 42 miles east of Littleton.
Collecting National Bank Notes is great fun, and they can be collected many different ways. Some people collect notes from their own town, county or state. Others collect notes from towns they like the sound of, such as David City, Nebraska, which I happen to like! If your name is Peter, you might like to collect notes from every town that contains “Peter” in its name, such as Petersburg, Virginia, and Peterborough, New Hampshire. Still others collect one of every type of national issued, regardless of geographic location. An interesting state and territory collection can be built, given the time and budget. Many National Bank Notes are quite scarce, with more than 100 notes in existence representing a fairly common national bank issue. Contact our friendly Customer Service reps if you have a hankering to collect nationals.