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1930s & Earlier / 1896 Five-Dollar Silver Certificate Controversy
A new series of $1, $2 and $5 banknotes were printed by the U.S. government in 1896. Known to collectors as the "educational series," the banknotes used classical art motifs to promote advancements in science. For example, the $5 silver certificate's design (shown below) highlighted the new importance that electricity brought to modern society. However, the naked breasts on the female figures sent some prudish folks into a tizzy. Some merchants and bankers in Boston considered the $5 bills to be obscene and refused to accept them--thus creating the term 'banned in Boston.' Despite the controversy, many banknote collectors consider the 1896 series to be the most beautiful ever produced by the U.S. government.