1899 $5 Silver Certificate “Chief” note
If was told tomorrow that I had to liquidate my collection and I could only keep five of my notes, this note would be one of them. The series 1899 $5 Silver Certificate, or Indian Chief note is sandwiched between the series 1896 $5 Educational note and the series 1923 $5 Lincoln Porthole note. Just over 566M of these notes were printed between late 1898 and 1922. The face was engraved by BEP lead engraver GFC Smillie, who also engraved much of the back. This note ranks #10 in the book “100 Greatest American Currency Notes” (Bowers/Sundman)
The center vignette features a portrait of Sioux Indian Chief Running Antelope, who unfortunately passed away in 1896 before getting to see his image portrayed on US paper money. Controversy ensued soon after these were issued because Running Antelope is pictured wearing a Pawnee headdress. The Sioux headdress was reported to be too tall to fit on the note. There were 11 different signature combinations used over the two decades these were printed, with Lyons/Roberts (1898-1905) leading the pack with the most printed. The 1899 $5 Chief note was among the first to utilize a Star designation as a replacement note in 1910.
Currency collecting was in its infancy during the mid 20th century and you could purchase a circulated example of this note for $6.00 and an uncirculated example for only $8.00, as illustrated by this Theodore Kem price sheet dated 1953, (second from the bottom).