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Good Advice Offered for Collectors
By Bill Brandimore, Bank Note Reporter
June 26, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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I was kibitzing with Scott Lindquist a while back and I asked him if he had any advice for collectors, new or otherwise. I found his comments interesting. Basically, Scott said, “Start cheap, and make inexpensive mistakes.”

Scott’s advice makes great sense.

“If a beginner or starting in a new specialty area it is always a good plan to start with the less expensive purchases,” he said. “This way, while you are discovering the different characteristics of this new area of interest, you can pay a much smaller ‘tuition’ while on the learning curve.

“You will also benefit by spending less at the beginning, which will help you to find a dealer who suits your needs. Even the expert in one field who makes his living at this very interesting business will suffer by his own hand due to ignorance in any new field, if he just starts buying willy-nilly.”

“Know your dealer,” Scott advises. “This may be one of the most important tips, as it will add to or subtract from your enjoyment of the hobby. Some rapport is a matter of personality. Basic transparency and being willing to share information in an effort to educate your customers is also key.

“When I say transparency, I don’t mean the dealer sharing his cost basis or proprietary information. But you can and should ask his grading philosophy, and if you ask how to spot original paper and embossing he should jump at the chance, time permitting, to spend five minutes going over the characteristics of original paper quality.”

I’ll have more from Scott next month. Scott, by the way, is a North Dakota dealer who is at most major shows and shares authorship of the Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money with John Schwartz.

Do you belong to the Society of Paper Money Collectors? I ask because I just read an interesting article in a recent issue on Russian counterfeiting of U.S. $100 bills. The SPMC magazine, “Paper Money,” is edited by Fred Reed.

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I’ve been a member for years, and I find it an extremely interesting publication. It is especially interesting if you’re into obsolete currency, as the society has been a benefactor for many years in getting various books on state obsolete notes on the market.

To join, send a check for $30 to Membership Director Frank Clark at P.O. Box 117060, Carrollton, TX 75011-7060. It’s is $5 more for Mexico and Canada.

Another club of interest is the Central States Numismatic Society, which will be celebrating its 75 anniversary next year at its April Schaumburg, Ill., convention.

CSNS has really stepped up to the plate in recent years, offering numerous numismatic adventures at various venues. An exciting one is planned for Wichita, Kan., the first Saturday in October. Some of the coin and paper money celebrities who will be presenting are Peter Huntoon, Jay Kline and Rick Snow.

The seminar will include breakfast and lunch. The cost is $10 for members and $20 for non-members. Put this on your calendar if you’re anywhere near Wichita. For more information, contact Ray Lockwood at sunrayofmarion@aol.com.

I continue to pursue star notes. I think they’re fun. Be especially on the lookout for older stars with lower printings. You can check this out at the PMG and PCGS websites, as well.

Replacement notes from Canada are interesting and less of them are saved by the general public, as Canada doesn’t use a star, preferring an X in the serial number, which doesn’t attract quite as much attention. Check out Canadian Government Paper Money, edited by R.J. Graham.

Another area that is worth pursuing is the Military Payment Certificate group. These notes are colorful and more affordable than most U.S. notes.

Replacement notes in this series can be identified by the use of only a prefix letter in the serial number. Regular notes have prefix and suffix letters. This makes for interesting cherrypicking possibilities.

I continue to see price increases in better-grade Fractional Currency issues. Collectors in this field are really condition nuts. There are great buys at the Extremely Fine level, but price increases will be slower there than in gem notes.

Specimen notes are an inexpensive area of Fractional notes. These notes generally can be had for a fraction of the price of regular issues, and the most expensive of the narrow margin specimens can be had in high grade in the area of $3,000 to $4,000—not huge dollars for notes with six to 12 notes known.

Confederate notes are another area you might want to explore. These historic notes come in a wide variety of denominations and types.

Start out with the Feb. 17, 1864 issue, the most affordable, and see how that suits you. Krause Publications has a nice Confederate book, Confederate States Paper Money, now in its 12th edition, that offers good numismatic information as well as a wealth of information on general issues of the various Southern states during this period. If you’re a Civil War buff, there are a lot of books on this period and knowledge of the history always seems to add to one’s enjoyment.

Obsolete notes also offer some local color entertainment. They are a lot like National Bank Notes in that you can enjoy a hometown flavor, but are generally quite a bit less expensive.

Don’t pay too much for high grade common slabbed remainders—that is unsigned notes that never saw circulation but were saved in large numbers in sheets that are now being cut up to manufacture gem notes. Many of them were fraudulent in their day. Paying a big price for common gem remainders seems fraudulent to me now, as well.

Krause carries CDs of the definitive four-volume Haxby catalogs that have been out of print for almost 25 years. Prices are obviously a bit out of date, but you can get an idea for what is rare.

Large-size type notes continue to reign as the most popular of currency pursuits and I see prices gradually returning to where they were a few years ago. Look for well-centered notes and buy the best you can afford. You won’t regret it a few years down the road.

In today’s market I recommend buying third-party graded notes in VF or better. Raw notes can trip you up if you aren’t an experienced grader.

As you read this, Canada’s national convention is coming up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, July 21-28. This is a fun show with a lot of social interaction. Check this out if you want to travel north this summer.

As always, email me at billbrandimore@charter.net with questions and comments.



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