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Paper Money Values Increasing

Minneapolis 1928-B $5 Federal Reserve Note. Sold for $166 in 2002. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions www.ha.com)

Minneapolis 1928-B $5 Federal Reserve Note. Sold for $166 in 2002. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions www.ha.com)

Coin prices are increasing, and Gold and Silver prices have a major part in this development. This impact carries over to the Paper Money market, and as I’ve been reporting, currency sales have been gaining in value as well. I think similar factors are at work. For instance, condition plays a large part in pricing and rarity, as well. Combined, rarity and condition send prices up and up. In both segments of our hobby, third party grading has made a huge impact. Before the Grading revolution, really nice, bright, well centered notes brought a premium. Today, notes graded MS67, Superb Gems, sell for double what MS65 notes bring. There is some softening, I believe, in grading toughness, as there was in coins. Sharp eyed individuals bought coins they thought had been under graded, broke them out of their holders and resubmitted them. This was usually successful and rendered a tidy profit. I once purchased a 1926-s Buffalo nickel that a dealer graded as Extra Fine. I sent it in and got a grade of MS 58 and a value 4 times higher than an Extra Fine.

It is a bit more difficult with currency because of serial numbers, but reports by a service that reports on auction results, past and present, often report a lower grade in earlier auction descriptions. This reinforces the Buyer Beware axiom. Consider this and examine notes in person before bidding. Unfortunately, in the current situation, that is generally not possible.

Fr. 2155-D* $100 1934C Federal Reserve Note. Sold for over $5,000 in 2007.

Fr. 2155-D* $100 1934C Federal Reserve Note. Sold for over $5,000 in 2007.

It will be interesting to see if the FUN show confirms this upward direction. Rare Fractional currency prices will be noted in the coming auction of New York collector Robert Laub. I expect prices for small size notes to continue to fluctuate. While prices are strong in large auctions, Heritage’s Tuesday night auctions often reveal bargains. Recently, I was able to purchase a $5 1928 Minneapolis note in Choice uncirculated condition, along with two other 1934C uncirculated notes for about $200. An Extra Fine Minneapolis 1928 note in Extra fine realized $300. Large size notes in appealing Very Fine and Extra Fine condition are increasing in price. This is pretty much across the board in Silver Certificates, Legal Tenders, Federal Reserve Notes, Coin notes and Gold Certificates. Of course, higher condition notes look nice in your collection, they also gain more value as time goes by. Early on I bought Star notes if possible and low serial numbers as well. My purchase of a MS65 Black Eagle, with a two-digit serial number, has gone up considerably from the $500 I paid some years ago, while ordinary Uncirculated Black Eagles have been slow to gain value.

I had an interesting conversation with Larry Falater, a very knowledgeable collector/dealer. He remarked that at 85, continuing to collect kept him young and alert. I subscribe to this theory. At almost 80, continuing to collect keeps me feeling young and optimistic. Larry cited Eric Newman as an example. He remained involved and alert until his death at 106. I certainly have made my heirs aware of the value in my collection so they will gain full value, but I enjoy collecting and attending shows. I hope to see you at one when the virus subsides.