(Images: Heritage Auctions)
For much of American history, banks issued paper currency that customers could redeem for gold. This is why paper money is often referred to as banknotes. Some banks issued notes with inventive graphics in the hope of making them collectible. Thus, customers may be inclined to keep them instead of turning them in for gold.
The Saint Nicholas National Bank was perhaps named to inspire confidence in its trustworthiness. After all, Santa Claus wouldn’t take your money and run, would he?
Maybe the bank owners hoped that customers would think so, but that didn’t stop one from suing the bank in a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.