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The Details Are Important, But Not Always That Important

Over the years we have had the pleasure of buying from coin dealers and collectors across the country.  Coins and currency are similar areas, but they are extremely different on a few topics.  If you are “coin guy” looking to deal with a “paper money guy” then you need to make yourself familiar with a few things that could save you some money or potential embarrassment.

Point #1:  Don’t Worry So Much About Pinholes
If you are dealing with a bank note in fine condition or worse then you should really only disclose pinholes if there are more than about ten of them.  If you are dealing with a note in XF or better, then you should always disclose any number of pinholes.  I have often been on the phone with dealers who get really caught up on a note in fine condition having pinholes and they get worried that the note is now worthless.  Or on the other hand, a dealer has a note in gem condition and they keep touting that the note doesn’t have any pinholes.  Pinholes are expected on heavily circulated notes and they are not expected on uncirculated notes.

Point #2:  Bank Notes Should Have All Four Corners
Please describe the condition.  “Everything is legible and it has all four corners.”  While that might seem like an acceptable description to a novice, that really isn’t enough to value anything.  A missing corner is a significant condition issue that will sharply lower the value of any bank note.  I understand the rationale behind the qualifier that everything is legible.  However, if something got to the point where you couldn’t read it, then it probably would not be collectible.  When describing the condition of something you should focus more on details like I see four distinct folds and some rust.

Point #3:  Denominations On National Bank Notes Aren’t That Important
This concept can be very difficult for people from the coin world to understand and accept.  Let’s look at a national bank that only printed 1902 blue seals.  Let’s assume that the bank has eleven $10 bills known to exist and one $20 bill known to exist.  How much more do you think the $20 bill should be worth?  The answer is probably nothing.  That really boggles the mind of coin collectors.  For example, an 1849 $20 Mormon gold piece should be worth $250,000 and the same $5 Mormon coin in the same condition from the same year should be worth $20,000.  So coin guys, I understand where you are coming from, but not all coin principles translate over to paper money.  This denomination rule only applies to third charter and small size national bank notes.  The denomination can affect values for first and second charter bank notes.

Point #4:  Fr #s On National Bank Notes Aren’t That Important
It is important to check the Fr number on your national bank note.  However, it will only affect the value about .3% of the time.  No one really cares which treasury official signed his or her note.  It is still all about condition, type, serial number, and bank of issue.  There are a handful of very rare Friedberg numbers out there.  They are usually only found on a few first charter notes and a few 1882 value backs.  Please contact us if you want to know if your number is rare or not.

I could also comment on the differences of how coin people and currency people view grading, but that is a whole different conversation.