During later colonial times the site of the future settlement gained military importance because of its deep harbor and its strategic location near the northern boundary of Spanish Florida. On January 1, 1811, the town of Fernandina, which was about a mile from the present city, was named in honor of King Ferdinand VII of Spain by the governor of the Spanish province of East Florida, Enrique White. On May 10, 1811, Fernandina was the last town platted under the Laws of the Indies in the Western hemisphere and was intended as a bulwark against U.S. territorial expansion. In the following years it was captured and recaptured by a succession of renegades and privateers. Located at the northeasternmost part of Florida, Fernandina was a busy seaport enhanced greatly by the completion of the Florida Railroad in March of 1861, connecting it with Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico. The rail route was restored after the Civil War and completed in 1868, leaving us with a rich heritage of bank notes, engraved by the American Bank Note Company, to enjoy now.
The Bank of Fernandina’s charter was approved on January 15, 1859. Notes were engraved by the American Bank Note Co. and signed by George S. Roux, cashier and A.H. Cole as president. When Union forces captured Fernandina, the bank was forced to move to Starke. Notes are considered to be Florida’s most colorful produced with side panels overprinted in bold red ink.
The Bank of Commerce was approved on Feb. 14, 1861. Notes were engravd by Danforth, Wright & Co. New York & Philadelphia. Printed with elaborate brown overprints and blue serial numbers with plain backs or with portions of Florida 1863 notes.
The Florida Railroad Co. was incorporated in 1853 with David Levy Yulee, Florida’s first U.S. Senator, as president. Construction began in 1855, with tracks that would connect Cedar Key on the Gulf Coast with Fernandina on the Atlantic coast and was completed on March 1, 1861. Operations were quickly interrupted with the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1868, new owners would restore the railroad producing beautiful new bank notes which are prized by collectors today.
First National Bank of Fernandina received its charter on April 25, 1891 with $50,000 capital. The bank was bought by the DuPont chain of Florida banks and changed the name in 1948 to the Florida First National Bank at Fernandina Beach. Currently there are 20 large and 25 small size notes known on this charter.
- Browse Videos of Florida’s Historical Towns and Banks
- Collecting Florida National Bank Notes
- State of Florida Civil War Currency
- Mr. and Mrs. Youngerman attend the inagural “The Value of Money” exhibit
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Notes & Currency
- 18__ Fernandina $3 Obsolete Note
- 1882 $50 Jacksonville Note Charter #3869
- 1902 $10 Punta Gorda Note Charter #10512
- 1882 $5 Palatka Note Charter #3223
- 1902 $5 Key West Note Charter #7942