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Not gold, not silver, but paper

More people want to read about silver and gold than want to read about collectible paper money. But what am I to do when it is time to attend the annual Memphis paper money show?

Hey, I’m getting on a plane this morning anyway to cover this very important event.

But when you think about it, gold buyers should spend a little time studying the evolution of regular U.S. paper money issues from their start at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861 to the present day.

Nowadays all we have are Federal Reserve Notes. There is some variety because there are 12 Federal Reserve banks and each issues its own notes.

Seals on the notes tell you which banks they are from. Take a look at them and see if you can get a note from all 12 districts.

Even if you don’t know the names of the cities they come from, the letters on the seals make it easy. All you need to do is start with “A” and you know you have finished when you reach “L.”

During the Civil War, the Northern government did not have a central bank. That had been abolished by Andrew Jackson in 1836 when he refused to renew the charter of what was then called the Bank of the United States, which was headquartered in Philadelphia.

When the bank lost its charter, it obtained a charter from Pennsylvania, but it folded in five years and there are still Bank of the United States notes out there to collect and reproductions to befuddle newcomers.

If you get such an 1840 note with a $1,000 face value and serial number 8894, you will know it is a repro.

I used to get a lot of telephone calls about it, but oddly, during the past five years of real world monetary upheaval and concern over paper money, I have had fewer.

So while this is not a blog about gold, it is a golden opportunity for me to personally witness the action in the paper money business – and to go to the Rendezvous for ribs.

What more can I ask?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."