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Popularity of Currency vs. Coin Collecting Over Time

I've always considered currency collecting to be an offshoot or subset of coin collecting, whatever word you prefer. Currency collectors often come to this specialty through coin collecting, although not always, by any means. More often collectors have had interest in one or another or both, however both have changed substantially over the decades. The rise in interest in U.S. small size over the past two decades seems to have increased the currency collector ranks while I'm not sure that coin collectors have enjoyed the same growth.

So the my two questions: Are there proportionally more currency collectors vs coin collectors now than in the past? And what size is the currency community compared to the coin collector community?

A couple of decades ago, Coin World's subscription was 80,000, when Bank Note Reporter had 8000 subscribers, so is 10% a reasonable guess? (Admittedly these subscriptions figures probably only give us a starting point for guesses.)

Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.

Comments

  • Serial_no_8Serial_no_8 Posts: 414 ✭✭✭

    I started collecting banknotes when there was no Canadian catalogue (Charlton). I remember thinking: okay, this is going to be one expensive hobby so I better make lots of money when I get a real job. That real job was working at a carwash & that was where I finally had some access to some decent notes. Anyway, it wasn't until I was in a local library about 2 decades later that I poured though an early Charlton catalogue. It was an education, to say the least.

    I didn't start going to shows until I was in my 40's. Everybody I met were nerds! Ha :p LOL & coin collectors. I remember the looks on their faces when I first told these guys I only collected banknotes. And there were hardly any women at these shows. So, I'd say, at least up here in the great white north (Canada), that only about 5% are collecting banknotes. But I would also say things are improving. I went to an RCNA convention near where I live & attended a great couple of workshops. The first thing I noticed was that way more women were into the hobby & far more coin collectors were into banknotes. When I started going to shows about 21 years ago, there were only about a half dozen dealers selling currency. I would say that figure has probably tripled (maybe even up by 400%). So things have improved significantly.

  • @sellitstore said:
    I've always considered currency collecting to be an offshoot or subset of coin collecting, whatever word you prefer. Currency collectors often come to this specialty through coin collecting, although not always, by any means. More often collectors have had interest in one or another or both, however both have changed substantially over the decades. The rise in interest in U.S. small size over the past two decades seems to have increased the currency collector ranks while I'm not sure that coin collectors have enjoyed the same growth.

    So the my two questions: Are there proportionally more currency collectors vs coin collectors now than in the past? And what size is the currency community compared to the coin collector community?

    A couple of decades ago, Coin World's subscription was 80,000, when Bank Note Reporter had 8000 subscribers, so is 10% a reasonable guess? (Admittedly these subscriptions figures probably only give us a starting point for guesses.)

    Maybe 10-20 percent of numismatic collectors collect paper money. Based on my experience at FUN, there are still a lot more coin collectors than paper money collectors. I’ve sat at a bourse table and waited on customers. The vast majority of customers ask to see stuff like Bust halves, Seated coins, etc.

    At FUN Ive seen collectors of Chinese and Indian paper money, as well as collectors of modern issues.

  • element159element159 Posts: 493 ✭✭✭

    I've always thought of them as really the same thing. I figure that I collect pieces of money, which are these things that have been magically given value, mostly by the process of the government just saying so :) But whether these pieces of money are metal or paper or polymer or whatever is less important to me.

    I think that, in time, there will be a larger fraction of currency collectors. The only money of significant value that I have handled in my life (USA) has been paper. Coins have always been base metal to me, and nothing that circulated was worth much. So if I want to collect money, that means paper now.

    image
  • JimnightJimnight Posts: 10,670 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have always been drawn to currency ... next came coins.

  • ashelandasheland Posts: 22,558 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm primarily a coin guy, but currency has grown on me. I'm probably 80/20 coins vs currency.

  • Steve_in_TampaSteve_in_Tampa Posts: 1,789 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 11, 2021 9:20AM

    Coin collecting had a huge head start over paper money. If I had to guess, I’d say coin collectors outnumber paper money collectors at least 10 to 1. I joined the ANA a dozen years ago primarily for the magazine, The Numismastist. When I received the magazine there was only one article on paper money. Future editions were the same - hardly anything about paper money. I never renewed my membership to the ANA.

    Theodore Kemm was a New York City paper money dealer over 60 years ago. He mailed out price sheets for notes he had on hand for sale. Paper money collectors were called Rag Pickers back then and notes were available for very little over face value. A new “Chief” note for $8 and a $5 Educational note $40 and a “Porthole” for $15….unbelievable prices.

  • JimnightJimnight Posts: 10,670 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My first currency book ... which I would never part with.


  • @mbwizkid said:
    Coin collecting had a huge head start over paper money. If I had to guess, I’d say coin collectors outnumber paper money collectors at least 10 to 1. I joined the ANA a dozen years ago primarily for the magazine, The Numismastist. When I received the magazine there was only one article on paper money. Future editions were the same - hardly anything about paper money. I never renewed my membership to the ANA.

    Theodore Kemm was a New York City paper money dealer over 60 years ago. He mailed out price sheets for notes he had on hand for sale. Paper money collectors were called Rag Pickers back then and notes were available for very little over face value. A new “Chief” note for $8 and a $5 Educational note $40 and a “Porthole” for $15….unbelievable prices.

    Back about 1994 I bought from a local dealer a $10 1902 national from Allerton, IA, for $38; an 1891 $5 silver certificate in Fine for $30; and an 1862 $2 in VG for $15. They all came from the same local coin dealer. The Allerton note is still probably the rarest national I have, at least in terms of auction appearances.

  • SaorAlbaSaorAlba Posts: 7,458 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I remember looking at paper money in the coin shop when I was a kid and my dad asking me why I would look at something to buy with no intrinsic value. I got the whole fiat money lecture and everything. Really the only paper money I had back then was stuff my dad brought back from Viet-Nam, ie MPC and Vietnamese currency. I saved a few older bills as I came across them in circulation - silver certificates would pop up occasionally as did red seal $2's and $5s.

    In memory of my kitty Seryozha 14.2.1996 ~ 13.9.2016 and Shadow 3.4.2015 - 16.4.21
  • synchrsynchr Posts: 1,360 ✭✭✭✭

    Currency has not apprciated in value as other assets like collector cars have.
    Either it is ripe for appreciation or this niche is being held back by something else.

    That "something else" may be the guide book.
    I've known the authors of the Small Size guide since the first edition and the sad fact that this book has not been updated in 11 years is one contibutor to decline in new collectors and valuation appreciation rate.

  • Serial_no_8Serial_no_8 Posts: 414 ✭✭✭

    "That "something else" may be the guide book.
    I've known the authors of the Small Size guide since the first edition and the sad fact that this book has not been updated in 11 years is one contibutor to decline in new collectors and valuation appreciation rate."

    I've wondered about that myself here in Canada. But Charlton's pricing panel truly are a conservative bunch. I don't think that they purposely hold back prices but they do seem to wait a year (or two) on newer series before they will acknowledge the popularity/demand for a particular newer prefixes/series. There's been a few short prefixes the BOC released & we have lots of data from a SNDB but they won't budge on the BV. I've heard an insider remark that they'd rather the trend be firmly established for a year or so rather than bring the price back down due to a momentary bubble (which is an embarrassment on their part).

  • TitusFlaviusTitusFlavius Posts: 317 ✭✭✭

    I started with coins, but find paper money equally fascinating. I started collecting paper money with the first "Big Portrait" notes in 1996, and also learned to watch out for star notes around the same time. Paper money seems to reflect more directly the development of the American economy and banking system, than the somewhat archaic "hard money" coins. To me, paper money seems to be a great value, compared to US coins, especially fractionals.

    "Render therfore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Matthew 22: 21
  • Cougar1978Cougar1978 Posts: 7,427 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 30, 2021 8:00AM

    I really like paper money. It’s easy to store, lightweight, beautiful, interesting, colorful notes.

    The reality that appears is most in numismatics mainly coin collectors. In the bourse room at a show what pct dealers have or specialize in currency?

    So Cali Area - Coins & Currency
  • synchrsynchr Posts: 1,360 ✭✭✭✭

    Currency has always been an offshoot from Coins - that is how I entered into currency; through coins first

  • Serial_no_8Serial_no_8 Posts: 414 ✭✭✭

    "A new “Chief” note for $8 and a $5 Educational note $40 and a “Porthole” for $15….unbelievable prices."

    • Interesting anecdotes Steve. I remember the same cheap prices for Bank of Canada's 1937 "Ozzie" notes (Osborne-Towers signatures). Nobody really understood how scarce these were (especially the $5.00) until they first started to appear on eBay & demand went crazy. Catalogs never caught up. I just didn't have the money for early BOC and never took advantage. I kick myself now.
    • Great early catalogues & price sheets "FightingIllini1982" & "jimnight."

    @synchr said:
    Currency has always been an offshoot from Coins - that is how I entered into currency; through coins first

    -I agree, though I never got into coins myself. Almost all the collectors I met started out with coins & it took me years before I met anyone who just collected currency.

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