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Apparent Grades Bring Half Catalog Price
By Bill Brandimore, Bank Note Reporter
February 25, 2014

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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There were interesting developments at the Florida United Numismatists convention in January. I noted some great prices for new-to-the-market rarities. Really nice large-size notes seemed mixed. Some were up a bit, some were down a bit.

I noted some interesting California National Gold Bank Notes that sold for interesting prices, but all the notes were apparent grades and fell well short of our current catalog values.

For example, a $20 National Gold Bank note in apparent Fine 12, F1152/ KL566, sold for $20,000, half the catalog value of $40,000. Fives and a Ten on the same bank, The First National Gold Bank of San Francisco, also went below catalog as a result of “apparent” designations.

A $5 in apparent 30 went for $11,162, one in apparent 12 brought $3,290 and one in apparent Fine 15 sold at $2,820. A $10 on this bank brought $8,516 in apparent 12.

These notes are really rare and not often seen in any condition. I would be happy to include an apparent National Gold Bank note in my collection. Don’t be afraid to buy an apparent grade example as straightforward examples are seldom seen, let alone any that are PPQs.

An interesting run of 1899 $1 Silver Certificate star replacement notes brought high prices in high grades: A KL45/F230* in 67 sold for $12,925; in 66 the same note brought $11,160. A KL48/F233* in 66 was hammered at $7,050. A KL49/F234* in 64 went for $7,050. A KL51/F236* also in 65 brought $3,525.

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Interesting error notes were also in evidence. A Rainbow 1869 $1 note with mismatched serial numbers sold for $9,987. An inverted back 1899 $1 Silver Certificate, KL 51/F236 in apparent Extra Fine 40 sold at $998. A pair of cut and fold over errors on 1981A FRN $1 notes in 58 grade made $558; while a 1977 Boston district $5 Federal Reserve Note in 66 of a Lincoln in Jail offset commanded $1,292. All prices I am reporting here include 17.5 percent buyer’s fees.

Auctions in the general U.S. currency category and the Platinum night currency auction at FUN realized in excess of $17 million. This was certainly an impressive sale by any measure.

Get ready for more Heritage auctions at the Central States Convention in Schaumburg, Ill., in April. Also be prepared to bid on notes in a Lyn Knight auction at the CPMX in Chicago in early March. I plan on attending both of these auctions, if, as they say, the creek don’t rise.

We are seeing more and more super graded notes of 67 and 68 at major auctions around the country. Competitive buyers are seeking to establish finest known collections in a number of areas. I note as a pattern that generally you can expect to pay double over 65 Gem grade for a superb Gem grade 67. Throw out the formulas for 68 and above.

I also note that in general catalogers in our field do a nice job of estimating value. It is a big help to collectors. They do not underrate notes to make themselves seem superior auctioneers at getting the very best prices, nor do they overrate notes in an attempt to achieve record prices. We are fortunate to have this assistance in the paper currency realm, as you are on your own with coins with no estimates at all. Beware of bidding on coins if you don’t yourself know the value of what you are bidding on.

Email me with your questions and comments. I enjoy our communications. I am at

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