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Notes Divide Between Top and Bottom
By Bill Brandimore, Bank Note Reporter
November 25, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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Prices seem up and down across the board. Super grade notes continue to bring powerful prices. Common and lower grade notes are a bit on the soft side.

Military Payment Certificates have been flat for some time. Well circulated MPCs are downright cheap and replacement notes can be cherry-picked by collectors who know what to look for.

World currency continues to grow in price and collector demand. New collectors to this field can get more bang for their buck by purchasing newer bills in low denominations. If they are in it for the long haul, however, the higher denomination notes hold better promise for value increases. One can see this by reviewing prices in the world paper money works by George Cuhaj. One of my early loves, Fractional Currency, also offers inexpensive notes in the very fine to extra fine grades. These notes are extremely interesting in an historical frame of reference and also offer cherry-picking opportunities in some of the varieties.

There really is no currency equivalent to bullion coins. So I look to undervalued groups for growth opportunities.

It will be interesting to see what the Florida United Numismatists show will bring in January in terms of market indicators. This is always a bellwether show for what the new year will hold in store for us.

My coin collecting friends tell me that old standby collector coins are fading a bit, especially the sort of semi-key coins we used to look for in change in the 1950s and 1960s. Weaker common paper money prices might be an echo of this, or be caused by the same factors.

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This weakness also includes entry level coins, especially in old-time collector grades of very fine. At the same time, ultra grades are increasing in value. In the coin market this seems to be especially true in regard to telemarketing, where consumers are paying big dollars for Mint State and Proof -69 and -70 graded modern issues. This phenomenon is occurring with silver American Eagles and the various other recent Mint products. Fortunately, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is not inundating us with a slew of special issues and low serial number notes.

I see a lot fewer Choice Uncirculated 63 notes coming into auction play and a great deal more Gem 66 notes. This might signal less participation by middle income collectors due to continuing financial problems. Over time, though, they will come back.

Lack of strength in lower grades could also indicate a changing market. I read interesting comments recently in Q. David Bowers commentary in his Buffalo/Jefferson nickel book. He offers optimum condition selections based on the cost of a really nice coin, say a Matte Proof-65 Buffalo, where you get a lot of coin, but don’t pay ultra huge grade premiums for -67 or -68 coins. This is wise counsel, especially for middle income collectors.

I really like extra fine notes as well as 58 notes. You get bright and attractive notes, but don’t pay obscene premiums in competition with registry set collectors. Mull this over before you buy your next large-size type note. I believe the long-range market will include the middle income collector, who will support the resale of nice Extra Fine 40 or Choice Almost Uncirculated 58 notes. Besides, often you can barely tell the difference between them and an ultra-grade note.


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