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Viewpoint: Low serial note searching for 30+ years

By Chad L. Magee, Ph.D.

In response to Ralph A. Fuller’s posting about “Where are low serial notes?” in the April 2 issue, the notes he is seeking are out there. However, most have been moved to the collector market, as there are a premium on them.

I have been checking my serial numbers that I get for more than 30 years and have only found one note from change that qualifies as a very low number note (i.e., lower than 1,000).

Back when I was in graduate school, I picked up a Series 2001 $1 note in change at a local pub. What caught my eye was the serial number of 42. It quickly went from my billfold to my bank deposit box. I now have it in a display on my office wall. The number 42 happens to be the answer to the universal question in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. I was hoping to have the movie cast sign it someday, but unfortunately it was just not meant to be (since Alan Rickman passed away in 2016).


The low number notes typically get picked up by sharp-eyed money tellers, who sell them to dealers before the notes get handled much in circulation. Packs that contain the first 100 notes are usually picked up immediately, as they contain the first serial number. That greatly lessens the chances of finding one in change, unless you happen to work at a bank that processes fresh batches of notes from the Federal Reserve.

However, they miss some notes sometimes, so there is still a chance you can find one if you look hard enough for them. Good luck on your search!

This “Viewpoint” was written by Chad L. Magee, a collector and chemist from Denver, Colo.

To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to Editor, Numismatic News, 5225 Joerns Drive, Stevens Point WI, 54481, or email

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