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What do you think of that Page 1 photo?

What do you think of the photograph on the cover of Lyn Knight with Andrew Shiva behind him making devil horns with his fingers?

Everybody who was ever a kid remembers the gesture. It is a part of childhood irreverence and horseplay. What is it doing on the cover of a national hobby publication?

It got your attention, didn?t it? That is the first and most important purpose of any front-page image. Secondly, it conveys the general tone of the Chicago Paper Money Expo that was held March 10-12. While there was a serious business purpose to Lyn Knight?s $2.9 million auction, the atmosphere was very upbeat and went beyond a general good mood almost to a level of kookiness. That?s how everyone is relieving the stress of being unable to find enough paper money to replace the stock that is being sold to collectors. That is how the frustration of essentially being willing to offer any price and still come up empty-handed can be vented.

Shiva is a serious paper money collector. Knight is a serious auctioneer. But on the day before the first lot crossed the auctioneer?s podium when the editor of Numismatic News showed up with a camera, we all became eight years old at recess again. It was fun.

Shiva has been on the cover of Bank Note Reporter, a sister publication of Numismatic News. When the old Soviet Union fell, Shiva took advantage of the opportunity to visit in 1995 and fly a MiG fighter. The May 1995 cover photo featured him in the cockpit. It was memorable.

In case you think I am not someone with sober judgment, I defend myself by placing the other photo of Knight next to it. This one features the visionary auctioneer staring off into the future while holding his CPMX auction catalog for all to see. It was an auction to be proud of, especially at CPMX. To attest to the almost manic nature of the paper money hobby, $2.9 million is not a figure that raises any eyebrows any longer even when we remember that $1 million total sales occurred not that many years ago.

It is not that $2.9 million is an insignificant figure. It isn?t. It is simply that paper money sales have reflected the general high level of activity in the hobby by regularly hitting multi-million dollar figures. I expect this will continue.

When times are good, people always look over their shoulders and wonder when they will end. That is human nature. It is physics if you state it as every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Times in paper money are incredibly good. Because they are, I expect that it will continue to attract many newcomers. These individuals will then compete with hobbyists already in the field. This will pressure prices up even further, but it will also inspire many collectors to look more seriously at small-size paper money, which is the current size used since 1929.

There are more small-size notes to collect. Their prices for the most part are much lower. It is a field poised to expand even more rapidly despite the fact that it has been growing quite nicely since the introduction of the first large-head $100 Federal Reserve Note in the spring of 1996.

I saw my first new $10 Federal Reserve Note at CPMX. This series 2004A was first released to circulation March 2. I think this is the best redesigned note to be introduced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing since regular redesigns became policy in 1996.

It is both familiar and different at the same time. I like the reddish hues of the background design of Liberty?s torch and ?We the People.? It makes me think of the old red seal $2s and $5s I used to get as change when I was a paperboy. There I go being a child again.

Oh, well, if you don?t remember red seals in circulation, start your own memories by branching out into the paper money collecting field. There is more than just the green seals of Federal Reserve Notes to tickle your fancy. With prices rising, your net worth could eventually be tickled, too.

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