By Bill Brandimore
The New Year is beckoning and as you read this the Florida United Numismatists show catalogs will be out and we’ll be anticipating the biggest paper money auction of the year. Will it foreshadow a bull market or bear? The stock market has been hitting new highs since the presidential election. This is symptomatic of hopes for a better economy with a new President.
As I’ve frequently said, I am not a financial advisor, but I suspect that if the general economy picks up, we should see a stronger numismatic market. I would certainly like to see more middle class job opportunities, as a number of collectors have just not had enough expendable income to actively participate in the purchase of material for their collections.
I think if the average collector is able to get active again we should see growth in the Very Fine/Extra Fine area of the market. In a conversation with collectors at the Higgins Museum seminar at Lake Okoboji, Iowa, last summer one collector mused that he particularly enjoyed the Very Fine 35 graded note, because you got all the freshness and brightness of an uncirculated note with just a few folds. That grade is appealing to me as well and I think these graded notes are bargains today.
Speaking of graded notes, a PMG Gem 65 $2 Rainbow, KL102/Fr42 fetched $24,200 including buyer’s fees at Lyn Knight’s PCDA auction in November. This is a new catalog high for this splendid example of early U.S. currency. As in previous reports, world currency remains perhaps the hottest segment of the market. African pre-World War II English and French Colonial notes are perhaps the most desirable. I have a particular fondness for Canadian notes. South American notes are also quite popular.
I expect to see increasing attention paid to Military Payment Certificates following a recent spectacular MPC auction and anticipating a follow-up auction of these notes in the near future. Fractional Currency offers colorful bargains among these Civil War era emissions. Since Fractional collectors seem especially picky in choosing high grade examples, there are really attractive bargain notes in the Extra Fine to Almost Uncirculated grades. Every collection should feature some of these historic examples. Confederate notes make a nice complement to Fractional and there are some great bargains in Fine to Very Fine notes, especially in the 1864 issues.
At the top of U.S. collectible currency are large-size type notes. Super grades are very pricey, but collectors can find most of these KL/Fr numbers in attractive Very Fine 35 to AU 58s. I think a $1 collection can be affordable and interesting, with such notes as the $1 Educational and Silver Certificates in general. I also fancy an attractive type set of small-size notes as perhaps the best bargains of all. World War II North Africa Yellow Seals and Hawaiian Brown Seals are good places to start in small size. These notes offer a special challenge when the various blocks are collected that involve the different prefix and suffix lettering in the serial numbers. Putting together sets of Silver Certificates is also a challenge. This is much more fun when star or replacement notes enter the equation.
Please send your questions and comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and have a Happy New Year.
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