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Buying a fireproof safe a wise idea

By Bill Brandimore


A chill is in the air, and hopefully, by the time you read this, we’ll be done watching disaster after disaster of flooding, hurricanes and wild fires. I expect that the sheer devastation we’ve seen lately puts your mind to thinking of protecting your assets. Insurance can’t replace your personal treasures. Certainly it won’t find replacements for rare notes.

Years ago I invested in a safe after consulting the local fire chief about fire protection for my notes. Even the best of safes won’t protect notes inside if the fire rages on for more than an hour or so. But, a proper safe should protect your notes for the time a normal house fire lasts.

Think about a safe, but consult authorities about the protection available from what you select. Be sure and tell children not to discuss your hobby outside the home. My dad was a stamp collector and I was advised that loose lips sink ships. It is good advice.

I think you can find something satisfactory in the $500 to $1,000 range. Many gun safes provide sufficient protection.

With the chill in the air comes the anticipation of the holiday season in December. If you’re hard to shop for its not a bad idea to give loved ones some hints. I like books and there are lots of books around that can provide you with knowledge and enjoyment.

I recently suggested several books by Carson Chambliss: The Comprehensive Catalog of U.S. Paper Money and The Comprehensive Catalog of U.S. Federal Large-Size Notes, 1861-1929. They both provide lots of valuable and interesting information. Schwartz & Lindquist’s Standard Catalog of Small-Size U.S. Paper Money tells you all you need to know about U.S. small-size notes. It is now out of print, but I’m sure you can find a copy on Amazon. Krause Publications’ Standard Catalog of U.S. Paper Money should come out in a new edition some time next year. There are many coffee table currency books, as well. Give Santa a hint and you could find something nice under the tree.

Prices seem stagnant at the present time, some up and some down. It seems as though the new gem standard is really a 66 grade, although I think I detect a bit of grading erosion in that area. I also note that 67-graded notes aren’t realizing twice the value of 65-graded material, as they did until recent auction results. Perhaps one and one-half differentiation now is more accurate.

Once again I have to comment on the lack of consistency in 1929 Federal Reserve Bank Note prices. It seems strange, and, of course, the Internet auctions seem to offer better prices—even for third-party graded notes.

I think we’re probably in a price vacuum now, awaiting the bellwether FUN auctions. Look for bargains in today’s market, especially at Internet auctions. Just remember to be patient. Set your limit and stick to them.

There seem to be large numbers of world paper money auctions and if you haven’t looked into this niche, you’ll find out its not a niche any more, it’s a dominant part of our paper money market, with growing interest in South America and British commonwealth nations.

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More Collecting Resources

• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.

• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you'll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.