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What to Look for in Old Paper Money

February 19th, 2011

old-paper-gold-certificate.jpgIf you have ever looked through old papers and memorabilia from your grandparents, you have probably run across old paper money. Though many people may think little of an old bank note other than as a reminder of currencies from previous generations, there are avid collectors of old paper money. The numbers of these collectors, called notaphilists, have been growing in the recent past.

U.S. History of Bank Notes

The United States has officially issued six different forms of bank notes since it began printing paper money for regular currency. The original silver certificate Series 1923 was a large note that took up quite a lot of ink and room. Therefore, in 1929 the much smaller and more economical United States Notes Series 1928 was created. This series was made in $1, $2, and $5 increments.

The next round of paper money in Series 1928 was the gold certificates. These were established in much larger denominations from $10 to $10,000. Then, the silver certificates in the Series 1928 came only in $1 bills. The Federal Reserve Notes Series 1928 went from $5 up to $10,000. And the last Series 1929 were the Federal Reserve Bank Notes which went from $5 to $100. Although the last round of money was redesigned and implemented in the 2000s, it is still essentially the same type of Federal Reserve Notes in circulation from Series 1969.

Old U.S. Bank Note Values

Collectors of old U.S. currency often look at the value in their collection as the satisfaction of being a “collector”. However, if you are interested in acquiring old U.S. money in order to sell it, then it is important to note that the value of the money depends on the Series, whether or not the bill was in circulation, and the rarity of that particular note. In general, the most valuable old currency for buyers and sellers are the silver and gold certificates, due to the fact that they are quite rare to find.

Other Old Paper Money

While previous versions of U.S. paper money certainly qualify as collectible items, old paper money from anywhere in the world can easily become a collector’s passion. When looking at buying or selling money from other countries, doing a little research up front will save the frustration later of possibly having paid too much. There are some things to look for when thinking about purchasing old currency from other countries.

  1. Rarity: is the paper money you are looking to buy rare or common? It stands to reason that the rarer a currency is, the higher the price you can demand.
  2. Condition: a note that is in excellent condition will obviously bring about a higher price. However, when looking at old worn money, the quality of the condition may be in the eye of the beholder. Find out what is considered ‘good’ condition for the year you are looking to purchase.
  3. Age: usually older currencies will be priced higher than more recent ones, but this is not always the case. Sometimes a fairly current misprint or flaw in the bill will call for a much higher price than one that is 10 times as old.

When looking to purchase old paper money, it is important to keep in mind that the value is always determined by the number of people who want to purchase the bill and what they are actually willing to pay for it, not necessarily by the bill itself.


This article was supplied by the freelance writer Blizzerand.


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