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Large-Size Type Notes Lead the Pack
By Bill Brandimore, Bank Note Reporter
July 02, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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Prices seem stable as we head into the middle of the summer. Large-size type notes remain strong, but are not yet back to early 2008 prices. The same is true for small-size and National Bank Notes. National Bank Notes, however, march to a different drummer. If you are doing more than collecting Nationals by type, prepare to pay whatever you need to surpass a serious under bidder. For much higher prices, all that is required is two or three serious collectors to compete for a state or popular geographic area. This is also true for obsolete notes, but to a lesser degree. This might be a good area to look into for new collectors, as prices seem down from a few years back and there are certainly a lot of historical items to attract those interested in the story behind the note.

Colonial notes seem to be copying price action in large-size at the present time. High-grade notes perform very well, but low-grade notes appear to be lackluster even given the historical nature of these 200-plus-year-old notes.

Fractionals are gaining interest. This is especially true for gem grade notes. True Fractional rarities, however, can’t compete with prices for rare large-size notes.

For a bargain basement set, take a look at Narrow Margin Fractional Specimens. These notes aren’t common by any means, but are priced at a fraction of the price of actual notes.

Circulated Continental notes also seem a reasonable area in which to pursue a denomination set, or put together a specific issue. Check out online auction sites to pursue these notes. The Heritage Tuesday weekly auctions offer fresh supplies every Wednesday morning after Tuesday night auction closes.

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I still recommend small-size notes for a type collection. After putting together a nice type set of World War II Hawaii and North Africa notes, one can enjoy chasing block sets. This requires assembling only eight notes for Hawaii or North Africa $1 notes. Add a star and you have a very attractive set. Get really crazy and you can look for all six star runs, that is to say serial number ranges, as the stars were printed in different batches, making this an interesting pursuit.

World notes continue to gain in popularity. Collecting notes printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for the Philippines offers inexpensive choices for the Victory series up through the 20 pesos denomination and can get quite pricey for notes ranging up 500 pesos. Other popular world groups are British and French Colonials, with Queen Elizabeth being quite varied in both price and scope. Finding early portraits in high denomination can be difficult. Japanese Invasion Money, or Jimmy notes, offer inexpensive pleasure and a large number of varieties. Part of the lure of world currency is its appeal to youthful collectors who are drawn by the exotic flavor and colorful nature of this area. It also provides painless lessons in geography, as well. I know a local Wausau collector who is collecting as many countries or geographical areas as he can find with his grandchildren. They are well over 100.

I don’t know what impact the current sag in world gold prices will have on paper collectibles, but I suspect we might see some crossover from disappointed bullion seekers who would prefer to ride the rising trend in paper money. Demand is a key ingredient in rising prices and I think our paper collecting is good for now in that regard.

Email me with questions and comments at

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