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Large Size Notes Gaining Value

A $10 1902 Red Seal note from the Old Detroit National Bank. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

A $10 1902 Red Seal note from the Old Detroit National Bank. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

As I write this column, we are emerging from COVID restrictions. I am looking forward to attending shows in person and club meetings other than on Zoom. The ANA Convention is coming up in August and there will be several auctions to research. You can get a jump on planning your bidding strategy by examining online offerings before catalogs arrive. Check the auction house websites for this information.

Fractional offerings will remain strong, but lower grades can be a real bargain as collectors of Fractional Currency tend to be a bit fussy. I am currently assembling a Wide Margin Proof group of Extra Fine to choice uncirculated notes. They are attractive, and much more affordable than Gem or Gem Superb notes.

Small Size notes are also up in value. Shrewd collectors monitor Heritage Tuesday night auctions and check out Dealer’s stock at smaller local shows. Prizes to look for are sleepers such as Mules and low population Federal reserve Notes, Red Seal Two’s and Fives and Silver Certificates in One, Two, and Five Dollar Denominations. A great source to identify these sleepers is Schwartz and Lindquist’s Small Size U.S. Paper Money. It is out of print now, but the 9th and 10th editions can be found online.

Large Size notes are also gaining value, and this is especially true in Superb Gem notes. I enjoy notes at the Very Fine 30 and 35 levels, as you get an attractive undamaged, unsoiled note that retains a lot of body. Buy the best you can afford but avoid notes with problems as they will be hard to trade in or sell later. Many collectors sell their notes later in life. I plan to collect my entire life. Passing on my collection to my heirs can avoid tax burdens, as they will qualify as “step ups” and at auction they will sell at their current value in an untaxed state. I have coached my heirs in good auction houses for resale. I think collecting keeps me young and I always have something to look forward to in new purchases. World notes continue to grow in the number of collectors. I particularly enjoy Canadian notes, as my mother was born in Canada. These notes are attractive and offer similar categories as there were a large number of Chartered Banks, much like our Obsolete notes of Pre- Civil War vintage. I also enjoy Queen Elizabeth notes from about 30 different countries in numerous portraits. There are numerous ways to collect. So, if you’re looking for new challenges, check out World currency.

I’m always looking for feedback. Is there an area I’m not covering that might be of interest to you, or do you want to share your latest find with readers of this column? Drop me an email and I’ll do my best to accommodate your request.

Finally, check out National Bank Notes. They are infectious. If you buy a few from your home town, you’ll want more. I collected Upper Peninsula Michigan notes for a long time and traveled to some of the locations and even talked to bankers. Currently I’m working on Detroit National Banks and it’s fun. Contact me at and share your thoughts with me.