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Ascertaining fair price for old US currency

rmorganrmorgan Posts: 249 ✭✭✭✭
edited February 3, 2021 2:17PM in U.S. & World Currency Forum

I've come to understand pricing of US coins and how to research what is a fair value. I now would like to add some older US currency to my collection, but I am ignorant about how to grade bills and how to look up the typical price of a bill at its grade. I'd like to know what resources (web links, books) are available to help me learn the basics of bill grading and looking up price guides.

My strategy is about collecting what I intend to keep, not investing in what I plan to sell.


  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,933 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wait a bit until shows start up again. At that time attend a major paper money show and check out availability and prices throughout the show. There may well be a major auction held in conjunction with the show as well.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • Namvet69Namvet69 Posts: 8,664 ✭✭✭✭✭

    At the same time, do your research if you're looking for a particular year, denomination and grade. Google is your friend. Good luck. Peace Roy

    BST: endeavor1967, synchr, kliao, Outhaul, Donttellthewife, U1Chicago, ajaan, mCarney1173, SurfinHi, MWallace, Sandman70gt, mustanggt, Pittstate03, Lazybones, Walkerguy21D, coinandcurrency242 , thebigeng, Collectorcoins, JimTyler, USMarine6, Elkevvo, Coll3ctor, Yorkshireman, CUKevin, ranshdow, CoinHunter4, bennybravo, Centsearcher, braddick, Windycity, ZoidMeister, mirabela, JJM, RichURich, Bullsitter, jmski52, LukeMarshall

  • Steve_in_TampaSteve_in_Tampa Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I spend a lot of time on Heritage and other professional auction sites reading the current and past auction descriptions of the notes. There’s plenty of information available from these auction descriptions written by professionals that have researched the note, often mentioning census facts and comparative examples sold in the past. The physical auction catalogs, especially the Heritage Signature auction catalog is a treasure trove of information.

  • pursuitoflibertypursuitofliberty Posts: 6,591 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Good answers here.

    Grading is tough from pictures. The new PCGS Banknotes grading, from what I have seen, is solid. The PMG grading is also. Just like coins, mistakes are made and nothing beats an in hand inspection, but at least you have had a professional review and the note is in a quality sleeve.

    Pricing is available if you are willing to do your homework, as there is a treasure trove of pricing data available on-line. I use the CDN website, amongst others, and look up notes by Fr # and grade in Auction archives. Nothing is perfect of course, but that helps.

    Happy Hunting!

    “We are only their care-takers,” he posed, “if we take good care of them, then centuries from now they may still be here … ”

    Todd - BHNC #242
  • sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,471 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Greysheet/greensheet has become less relevant over the years as more and better pricing information becomes available from other sources. After being a subscriber for many years, I dropped my subscriptions about 10 years ago.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
  • Serial_no_8Serial_no_8 Posts: 422 ✭✭✭

    People talk about grading like it's a logical black & white scale. [Just the fact that this scale goes to 70 should be your first clue that it is anything but]. Most seasoned collectors know it's more of a sliding (subjective) grey scale & takes a bit of time/practice to really get the hang of it. Books are fine but actually doing it has helped me the most. I always try to practice examining a note, assess its grade, & do it over and over with each bill I set aside (or wish to keep).
    It's also important to note that there's a difference between Book Value (BV: the charts you see in catalogues, Buy it Now or BIN Listings & Fair Market Value (FMV auction prices). BV are just guides made up by pricing panels & may be the price a collector may pay on any particular item. BIN: are just what eBay (& other seller platforms) list a note for & FMV is more of a True auction style Listing & probably what most collectors would rather pay for any particular note. FMV can fluctuate due to many factors. As Tomx4 indicated you've asked a far-reaching question. You will need to just keep active in the hobby (check the prices), practice grading banknotes & get a catalogue (there's nothing like a hard copy to return to). Tap into whatever online resources you can & try to do it regularly so some of the info you pick up remains fresh.

  • Steve_in_TampaSteve_in_Tampa Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BadWithMoney said:
    So there are not other places that do what greysheet does? You have to go look at completed listing? gah!

    Many subscribe to Track & Price. A paid service that shows prices realized, which is particularly handy when pricing Nationals. If I was a dealer and had to evaluate a stack of 100 notes for purchase, I would definitely want T&P. But since I typically search and purchase notes one at a time, I don’t mind the time and effort necessary while researching the different online auction archives.

  • Steve_in_TampaSteve_in_Tampa Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BadWithMoney said:
    So are the greysheet prices bad, or maybe just not super up to date?

    I subscribed to the Greensheet for two years and it seemed that the prices never changed. I also found it kinda generic…lacking details. For instance, if you price a 1981A $1 H-B block note and didn’t know to check if it had the BP129 error, you could miss out on a great deal.

  • Steve_in_TampaSteve_in_Tampa Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I use an Olympic scoring trick to price average. I disregard the highest and lowest priced notes and average the remaining notes. Values typically don’t change suddenly, unless you’re shopping for $500 or $1,000 notes.

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