Thinking about getting into paper money

HallcoHallco Posts: 3,118 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited July 13, 2018 6:12AM in U.S. & World Currency Forum

I had a friend that would buy some when we would go to shows together many years ago. I was at a very different time in my life and didn't fully appreciate his desire to own currency. Although unbeknownst to him... when I would look at some of it I actually thought some of it was pretty neat. Now that my interest in coins in returning, I decided to go back through some books I had acquired over the years. One of which is a large hardcover all about US paper money. Any suggestions, recommendations(or warnings, lol) about getting more involved? And just to be clear...this interest is strictly for collecting purposes. I do not invest in things I do for hobbies. :)


  • mbwizkidmbwizkid Posts: 400 ✭✭✭

    The last sentence of your post indicates you’re going to collect strictly from circulating notes.
    That kinda rules out everything Large-Size, and Fractionals, and unless you have a job at a bank or know someone that handles a lot of currency then things may move slowly for you. We do hear stories occasionally about a member finding a Silver Certificate or Legal Tender, but seldom do I hear about someone finding a small size National, Hawaiian, FRBN, or other small size interesting notes.

    I’m not saying it won’t be interesting or you won’t have fun, but if you’re limited to circulation finds, then you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.

    Good luck to you.

    AKA Steve in Tampa

  • HallcoHallco Posts: 3,118 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Well, I actually do work for a Credit Union but we do not see much in the way of older circulating notes. if I decide to start collecting paper, I will obviously seek these through dealers and auctions. I'm thinking along the lines of things like the Black Eagle, Hawaii & North Africa issues, color seals from the 30s, maybe some of the more rare $2 stars from the 70s. I am not expecting to collect anything from circulation unless it just happens to come to me unexpectedly...that would be fine too! :D Also, I love your Daffy icon! :p

  • mbwizkidmbwizkid Posts: 400 ✭✭✭


    I misunderstood your sentence, “ I do not invest in things I do for hobbies” as meaning you do not spend above face value. I now understand it to mean, you are going to collect for the enjoyment and not for the potential ROI. I completely agree with this approach. Buying/collecting notes should be for the history, beauty and educational aspects of the notes. I can see where worrying about price paid and the anxiety of not recouping your initial expense would take most, if not all of the pleasure out of the hobby. Take your time, do your research and buy what you like.

    AKA Steve in Tampa

  • HallcoHallco Posts: 3,118 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks! Yes, that is exactly what I meant. I realize now that it may have been a little unclear the way I worded my thought.

  • gnatgnat Posts: 545 ✭✭✭

    In addition to doing some research, start small, and as you indicated, buy notes that interest you. As part of your "research" try to attend some Shows (or visit Coin shops) near you and just look at a lot of currency as well as asking questions.

    For any notes of more than fairly nominal value, you might want to stick to notes that have been graded by either PCGS or PMG. For the types of notes you have identified, there is a fairly ample supply available in just about any grade. You can afford to be picky. Stay away from notes with any problems (sometimes noted on the back of the holder, or given a "NET" or "APPARENT" grade).

    Though you are seeking good eye appeal for the grade, avoid notes that have been washed or pressed to look nicer (and higher grade). For graded notes, this usually means buying notes that have either EPQ (PMG) or PPQ (PCGS) designations.

    Buy the nicest grade example (with good eye appeal, centering, etc.) that fits your budget. You'll find that for many notes, there is a point where prices make a big jump for only a tiny increase in the numerical grade. One approach is to buy "just below" the jump (e.g., a 65PPQ rather than a 66PPQ).

    Buying raw notes off of eBay (or even from dealers/shops) can be risky even if you are very knowledgeable at grading. There are more than a couple sellers (most have tons of positive feedback) that wash, press and "improve" notes and sell them as "high grade" or "near Gem" or other such terms. Buyers may only find out much later that these notes are not what were represented.

    Most of all, enjoy and have fun.

  • KkathylKkathyl Posts: 2,805 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Good luck. I find notes to be interesting and have a lot of history behind them. I have seen nice displays of full sheet notes in picture frame as well. Enjoy!

  • Timbuk3Timbuk3 Posts: 10,296 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Good luck, collecting currency's can be fun !!! :)

  • numbersmannumbersman Posts: 801 ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 13, 2018 2:06PM

    Collect what you like and do your homework....It's really that easy.Make sure that when you think you found something you're ready to buy that you ask us about it.You will quickly see if it's a buy or not.

    Collector of numeral seals.That's the 1928 and 1928A series of FRNs with a number rather than a letter in the district seal. Owner/operator of Bottom Line Currency
  • HallcoHallco Posts: 3,118 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 13, 2018 2:15PM

    @gnat. Thanks for the recommendations. I am planning to go to the Dalton,Ga show at the end of next month and anything that may come home with me will have to be graded! Mostly for my comfort as being authentic and "unmessed with" :) I will have a lot of homework to do before I would feel right about buying anything raw.

  • HallcoHallco Posts: 3,118 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I guess my homework starts with tackling the info in this! I got this from the friend I referenced in the 1st post. I think it's about 15 years old.The cover is torn in several spots, the binding is coming apart and the pages have tons of highlighter marks and personal opinion notes! And I thought the red book of coins was a bit intimidating when I first bought it! Yikes!! LOL!!!

  • sarikanairsarikanair Posts: 126 ✭✭

    Feels great when someone wants to join the community of currency collectors! First of all, keep reading about currency and increasing your knowledge. Join as many online communities as you can along with a few clubs in your area. Keep attending shows and events that happen around you. And most importantly, stay away from inexperienced dealers.

  • TookybanditTookybandit Posts: 3,293 ✭✭✭

    I recommend considering a membership to the Society of Paper Money Collectors "SPMC". There are 316 issues of the magazine Paper Money available to download and there is also search box where you can enter a topic and it searches through every issue for the subject you want to learn about!

    Annual membership for online access is $20.00 ...or for $39.00 you get online access plus the hard copy magazine mailed to you 6 times per year.

  • boimre1972boimre1972 Posts: 758 ✭✭✭

    My wisdom from a previous post in 2016 in answer to a similar question, with mild editing:

    Friedberg book is excellent for cataloging what is out there. Pay NO attention to the suggested value of the notes listed in the book, however.

    I would advise you to pick some defining element for your collection. For example focus on: a specific series (year), or denomination (i.e. only $1 notes).

    Also, set a standard for the grades you will collect. For example, some people won't by any grade less than 63. That would be a real challenge to find large size notes in that condition (it is possible). Or, as I've seen a couple people do on this board, only collect the lowest grade. Nothing above a 12. Easier to find notes like that. You can also make up your mind to collect only graded notes, or ungraded, or that may not matter to you. If you really want a challenge, focus on a specific serial number (I focus on notes with 1701 in them).

    The tougher your standards, the more focused your search, the more money you'll save, and the more fun you'll have. Don't go into this expecting to make money. Trust me on this! When I started collecting, I liked small size star notes and ended up buying everything. Now I'm trying to get rid of a lot and losing money (what I call my idiot tax). The sooner you can get a focus, the better.

    Best of luck and welcome to currency!

    Collecting small-size star notes.
    Mishawaka, IN
  • HallcoHallco Posts: 3,118 ✭✭✭✭✭

    With the Dalton Show now less than a week away, I have my shortlist of paper interests down to 3 different Large Notes and 4 "others". If I can find one or two of them in a condition and price that I want I will consider it a success. We will see. Thanks for all of the advice on this thread and the others I have started on the currency forum. :)

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