Information on Collecting Paper Money

You may want to print out this mini-book, so you can read it at your leisure and without screen glare.

What is real money and what is paper money? Both are belief structures.

There are several types of money - money is a trading tool that is instantly liquid and usable for exchange.

Over the last three thousand years the concept of money (liquidity has been of several metals, copper, silver, and gold. These three metals were concepts of value and were accepted as the universal solvents that allowed tribal and personal commerce.

In the last 300 years the world added two more concepts of money (i.e. liquidity). These two new ideas were paper money and diamonds. Governments loved the concept of paper money, because in real terms of human energy, there was practically no cost.

In the last 30 years the world added two more forms of instant liquidity, platinum and credit cards. Platinum having the intrinsic value of a rare metal, comes in the form of coins or bars. Credit cards give us the ability to hock out our future labor, in other words, we can draw on our future ability to make money. In today's world credit cards are referred to as plastic money.

People collect all ages of liquidity, past liquidity, present liquidity, and future liquidity.

When you start dealing or collecting instant liquidity of any age, you enter into another concept about liquidity. This concept in the world of money is called the Spreads. The Spreads are the difference (usually a percentage) of the buy/sell rates. All assigned monetary value is a belief structure, in other words, reality is made up of our belief structures.

Checks and credit cards are not really a form of money, they are a promise to pay at some time in the future.

Let's review the types of money or "liquidity" down through ages as changes of belief structures in the world culture.

  1. Gold (ancient belief structure)
  2. Silver (ancient belief structure)
  3. Copper (ancient belief structure)
  4. Iron (ancient belief structure)
  5. Platinum (recent belief structure)
  6. Diamonds (recent belief structure)

  7. Paper money - promises of value by governments (very recent belief structure-and not accepted by all.)
  8. Checks - promises by people and industry (very recent belief structure)
  9. Plastic credit cards - promises by the general public to banks or businesses (very recent belief structure)
A quick glance will show that the first six foundation beliefs are beliefs in the essence of Earth (i.e. metals and gems of some scarcity - diamonds). Diamonds and gemstones are also earth essence. In other words, something rare, labor intensive and of lasting endurance.

The information presented here covers our belief in number seven - "PAPER MONEY" - the promise of liquidity by governments to the people throughout the world and like all promises of politicians, it is fundamentally worthless. Most monetary systems based on paper money collapses within two generations. The average banknote life is 18 months and that's why it's collectable.

What you believe is true - is true - it's all in the mind.

The true collector arms himself with knowledge and we have the largest Numismatic Library on the Web.

How long has paper money been collected and who collects paper money?

The collecting of paper money has been going on since it's inception and there are 10's of thousands of people collecting it worldwide. Paper money collectors and dealers are discriminating and a colorful group of collectors, they are very active and have helped develop the hobby on a world wide basis. Many coin collectors also collect paper money and there are a few large dealers like WSCE that trade in all nine types of money (i.e. If you have anyone of the types of liquidity - you can trade it for any of the other types of money - i.e. liquidity).

What types of paper currency are collected in the U.S.?

There are many areas of personal interest in the collecting and trading of paper money.

The banknotes and different currencies of the 1800s and early 1900s are now very high priced and continue to move upwards year in and year out. People also collect phone cards, travelers' checks, and stocks and bonds. Souvenir Cards printed by American Banknote Company is one way to discover the beauty of currency and paper documents of early America.

There is also a huge and growing group of people in the US who collect world paper money. People focus on specific countries of interest and even specific time periods in the different countries. Often interest in paper money follows an interest in the general history as well. Many collectors focus on topicals, like airplanes, cars, buildings, wildlife, and even notes with portraits of queens & kings to notes with pictures of farm animals, agricultural scenes to notes with specific serial numbers (all the same digit or very low serial numbers).

Another type of world paper collection is to collect individual banknotes from every country. The type of collection can vary greatly. Many Americans collect banknotes from their ancestral countries, one thing for sure, paper money collecting is as diversified as the people collecting it and is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world.

The quantity of books available on paper money is very large and they play a informational role for collectors. Many people have dedicated their lives to researching and authoring information on paper money. Presently Krause Publishing turns out reasonably good books on the identification of banknotes, however as price guides they leave a great deal to be desired. Many of the banknotes they list are not available at 3 or 4 times the prices they give and others are available for a third or less than they state. What Krause as a publisher offers that is valuable and makes their group of books worth buying is the pictures of coins and banknotes, so you can identify the notes and coins you come across.

There are over 3,000 specialty books available on numismatics and Washington Square Coin Exchange stocks the top 10% and many that are now out of print.

First buy the book - then the banknote or coin - knowledge is money in this field of collecting.

What's the best way to get started collecting U.S. banknotes?

If you are interested in American banknotes the best way to start is to subscribe to Bank Note Reporter. It's a monthly US newspaper for paper money and currency collectors, it carries the recent news about new issues and currency changes. It carries advertising from a large number of US dealers, plus, it lists paper money shows in the US and the world. BNR offers a free sample to anyone. US subscriptions run 30 dollars for 1 year (40 dollars outside the US). It's a good source of information. Give them a call for a free sample and tell them WSCE sent you. Their address is...

           Bank Note Reporter
           700 State St.
           Iola, Wisconsin  54990  USA
           (715) 445-2214
           within the USA, for subscriptions only call: 1-800-258-0929
           Krause Publications

The Professional Currency Dealers Association offers a small booklet called "How to Collect Paper Money". See the section on societies and organizations you can join for the PCDA address.

You can buy/sell/or trade paper money-here's how:

Most people start collecting paper money out of circulation, however, you will find the most effective way to get valuable paper money is not through general circulation. The best notes of value come from dealers, collectors, auctions, and shows.

Even with the large audience on the Internet collecting paper money, you can't reach many world wide collectors, however, there are many coin and paper money dealers online. The better online dealer sites will have pictures of the banknotes they have for sale and a shopping cart system to purchase the items.

The International Bank Note Society's quarterly journal carries free advertising of a non-commercial nature for people wanting to acquire additional notes for their collections. Bank Note Reporter also has small inexpensive classified ads. These are good places to look for people to trade notes.

You can also place inexpensive ads in coin and paper money sites that offer classified numismatic advertising, like Washington Square Coin Exchange.

Another way to buy/sell notes is through mail auctions. The IBNS has frequent auctions and many dealers and individuals have their own auctions which are advertised in BNR.

I find the most effective and best way to buy, sell, and trade notes is through stocking dealers. Dealers can range from people who just have large collections, to those who keep a large stock of notes for the specific purpose of selling or trading them.

The large Internet dealers like Washington Square Coin Exchange have developed the ways and business methods which are most effective for helping collectors fulfill their needs. Most banknote dealers love the hobby are truly friendly and helpful.

A few people just starting out prefer collecting notes new or used from general circulation. This is a good way for someone to become interested in paper money, but it's generally not a very effective way to collect anything of value. Many dealers purchase bricks of a certain note when they become available, ask your dealer, what do you have in quantity that you can purchase cheaply. This way you can acquire trading stock at very low prices. Then join a local or international club to meet people or hold your own auctions.

Check out WSCE price on 100 note bricks and one thousand note dealer inventory package.

Many people who belong to collecting clubs purchase dealer packages to sell notes to other club members after the meetings are over. This type of dealer is called a "vest pocket" dealer and many of the present dealers with retail stores, started this way. In fact we have many vest pocket dealers who are building their profits and inventories so they can eventually open their own stores.

Where and how does the typical paper money deal occur?

Most small paper money dealers online don't have retail stores, so most transactions with this type of dealer take place through the mail and over the phone. Nearly every dealer who works through the mail or on the Internet offers a money-back return policy. If the banknote you buy from a responsible dealer is not the one you want, you can always return it with no questions asked.

WSCE has a 15 day, no questions asked return policy on both collector coins and paper money.

Many beginning collectors will use paper money reference books to find the notes they desire. The collector then either emails, calls, or faxes the dealer with an order and a credit card number, fax check, or sends a check in the mail.

Other off-net transactions occur at U.S. and international paper money and coin shows. Many dealers will offer discounts at shows, but only when you buy quantity. Coin and paper money shows are also a good way to learn more about banknotes and the hobby in general.

A selling transaction is where a collector or dealer sends notes to another collector or a dealer who may then buy them or return them. Always ask the dealer if he is interested before you send a group of notes you have for sale. This is an acceptable and safe way to do business with recognized coin or paper money dealers.

Trading Paper Money for Coins or Coins for Banknotes

Trading notes and coins is one of the ways you can build a good or even an excellent collection.

As a member of WSCE's International Coin & Paper Money Collecting Club you can receive a free web page and URL Link in the Super Mall-Association. this page is one of your benefits for joining the ICCC.

You can run an ad in your SMA page. this ad can be a buy/sell or trade ad. In this manner you can reach people all over the planet.

WSCE receives many offers to trade either coins or paper money. You can do the same.

You will need some starting and trading inventory, we offer bricks (100 or more of the same banknote) at very reasonable prices, many priced at well below the Krause catalog. this allows you to trade notes based on catalog prices. Let's say you purchase a brick of 100 notes at a dollar a piece and they have a catalog price of $4.00 each. By trading at $4.00 each you are actually purchasing the note for 1/4 of it's catalog value.

If you are an active trader you can build a huge collection for a very nominal cost. All you really need are the connections. That's why we set up the free web page in SMA for our club members, to make world wide connections with other collectors.

As long as your $25.00 yearly club member dues are paid, your SMA trading site is free. As a WSCE Reseller you are put into several collector type Super Malls to greatly increase your contacts.

Remember this: "Every Web transaction starts with sending or answering an email. I type at very slow speeds. Snails are lightning fast in comparison to my typing, yet I answer from 50 to 75 emails daily. The more emails/the more trades."

Mail Order Auctions

There are several mail auctions where collectors put up their notes for auction and then a list of notes is sent out to a large group of people, who then bid on the notes through the mail. Thousands of notes are auctioned this way. The IBNS has regular auctions with about 2000 lots per auction and minimum bids starting at 2 US dollars per lot, these are auctions for collectors and dealers alike and at times a few good bargains can always be found.

Other transactions take place where people will place ads in Bank Note Reporter or the IBNS Journal or elsewhere asking to buy/sell/trade a specific set of notes. WSCE has classified ad available space in their site for only $25.00 or until the coins or notes are sold.

The expensive single banknote ($1,000 to $50,000 US dollars) can be sold at large auction houses such as Spinks (the coin and currency arm of Christies), Stacks hold paper money and coin auctions. Other paper money and rare coin auction houses are Currency Auctions of America and Lyn Knight Auctions. Many of these auction firms also handle large lots of banknotes in the over 300 dollar price range.

On the Web and in coin magazines there are many people that advertise things like, "Canadian collector looking to trade Bolivian notes for Canadian notes" or wanted notes with elephants or trains or some other type of topical banknotes.

When you are buying or trading banknotes, always avoid notes that have been cleaned, patched, starched, ironed or otherwise repaired or modified to improve their look. Recently I ordered some notes from a person in Bangkok, they had been washed in starch to give them some crispness. Needless to say, I returned them.

Watch out for notes which have been modified, retrimmed, or have missing details such as serial number digits and erased or changed signatures, also stay away from notes with missing corners, or torn and dirty notes. If at all possible, keep your purchasing or trading in crisp uncirculated banknotes, that's the area of greatest capital appreciation over the years.

How to save, preserve, and store your banknotes.

You can keep them in the very best of condition by using special Mylar paper money holders.

Household products such as plastic wrap, plastic bags, window envelopes should not be used for storing paper money. Most all household plastics contain PVC, which deteriorates with time and heat, releasing acids and greasy oils that will enter the paper, causing in the notes to appear to have been dipped in oil. Use only those products (such as Mylar and other inert plastics) which have been tested and approved for long term paper money storage. We stock 3-hole binder pages made of Dupont Mylar for both large and small notes.

All banknotes should be kept out of direct sunlight to avoid fading. Any repairs should be made only with products that are stable. "Magic" tape and other plastic tapes will leave permanent stains on notes over a period of time. Also pay attention to tears or staple holes that have been repaired or filled with super glue.

Always use a 5-power coin magnifying glass to inspect a used note before you buy it. WSCE stocks a 3-lens magnifying glass that sells for $3.95.

We stock individual Mylar holders which look like plastic envelopes and cost about 30 cents each, in packs of 50 or 100. You can also keep a quantity of notes in regular #10 or #6 glassine stamp envelopes as well and we have these glassine stamp envelopes in packages of 100 envelopes.

If you want to get fancy, we stock special albums with an assortment of Mylar holders. Each page holds 1, 2, 3, or 4 notes (there are 4 different types of pages). These albums are assembled by us and costs a little more than the individual holders. The album and 20 pages cost around $39.00 US. Additional pages are something like $12.00 for 10 pages. You can fit 50 pages in one album. Fortunately, the pages will fit in a standard 3 hole album. You should use both the individual Mylar holders and the pocketed pages, but for anything worth less than 20 dollars, I just use the pages. They're very similar to Mylar.

We have in stock both the individual Mylar holders and the pocketed pages and the albums.

What are the reference books for paper money and where can I find them?

There are several good general reference books for paper money and we stock all of them, even many that are now out of print.

We also have a good selection of specialty books for paper money and other collecting hobbies.

Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money, 16th edition,
By Chester L. Krause and Robert F. Lemke, Krause Publications and contains 14,000 market valuations and 550 photos. If you're starting in most US paper, you want this book.

Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Volume I, Special Issues, 7th Edition
By Colin Bruce II and Neil Shafer, Krause Publications. Contains state, provincial, and commercial bank issues not covered in Volume 2. Has 1056 pages and 8,000 black and white photos. A very large catalog.

Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Volume II, General Issues, 8th Edition
By Albert Pick, Krause Publications. Contains your basic national paper money. 1280 pages and 10,000 black and white photos. If you're just starting in world paper money, you want this book. The 7th edition came out in April 1994 and has notes up to around Feb 1994, which includes all of the new countries up to that point.

Standard Catalog of Modern World Paper Money, Volume III, 2nd edition,
by Colin R. Bruce II and George S. Cuhaj, Krause Publications. Covers world notes from the last 30 years. It includes a quantity of information and pictures not found in Volume II (however, there is some overlap). This book has 600 pages and 5,000 photos ("hundreds not found in Volume II"), soft cover.

Standard Catalog of United States Obsolete Bank Notes
By James Haxby, printed by Krause Publications. The cost is $195.00 and is the final word in all obsolete bank note books. Many of the states have their own books which are considerably cheaper. Check first before spending 200 dollars on this 4 volume set. For instance, Rhode Island obsoletes are covered by the excellent book by Durand on the subject that is priced around $25.00.

Confederate States Paper Money,
by Arlie R. Slabaugh as always Krause Publications and is priced around $13.00.

Confederate and Southern States Currency
By Grover Criswell.

Early Paper Money of America,
by Eric P. Newman Krause, around 50 dollars. Primarily Colonial paper money.

Paper Money of the United States,
by Robert Friedberg. Coin and Currency Institute, Inc., P.O. Box 1057, Clifton, NJ 07014

Comprehensive Catalog of U. S. Paper Money Errors
By Frederick Bart

POW and Concentration Camp Money of the 20th Century, 2nd edition
By Lance Campbell, BNR Press, Port Clinton OH, about US$25
For the best and most complete numismatic library on the Web, check out our Book Section.

What are the "Pick" numbers?

The Pick numbers were created by Albert Pick, author of the World Paper Money Book on General World Issues. Nearly everyone who deals in world paper uses this system for identifying notes. Every note within a country has a number associated with it, often shown in the form "P-34" for general issues and "P-S34" for specialized issues (volume 1). Since every country has the same or similar numbers, a note is identified by country and Pick number. Recently the new Krause books have been assigning new pick numbers and there is considerable confusion between the old numbers and the new Krause numbers.

Again, the Krause pricing leaves much to be desired. More time and research should be done on the pricing aspect of all Krause catalogs including their line of coin catalogs. Their pricing does not reflect what's actually happening in the hobby.

Krause's real value to the hobby lies in the number of black & white pictures in their publications that allow you to identify many of the notes you receive in packages of banknotes available from WSCE and a few other large world wide dealers.

Grading the condition of paper money.

Learning how to grade is very important and the condition of a banknote is very critical to its value. Lowering the grade of a note one condition or grade down can lower its value by 1/3 or even 1/2. An expensive note which falls between two categories might be worth a thousand dollars more in the higher category than the lower one. Therefore, it's often important to be more precise in describing the note when you wish to sell it, rather than using a limited number of accepted general categories.

Listed below is a general grading guideline. Many dealers from different countries have slightly different grading systems, especially with various sub-grades of uncirculated. As of yet there's no uniform official system of grading. But these general grading terms and concepts are pretty much universally accepted. Study them and start grading common currency passing through your hands and it will not belong until you are grading paper money like a pro. A magnifying glass can quickly separate an AU note from a truly uncirculated note.

Crisp Uncirculated, UNC or CU
This means not the slightest sign of any handling or wear or folding or anything. Some people use additional descriptions and grades to distinguish qualities such as perfect centering, good color, or other printing characteristics.

Almost Uncirculated (or About Uncirculated), AU
This means there is a slightly detectable imperfection such as a counting fold on one corner or slightest fold in the center (nothing which breaks the surface of the paper) or a pinhole. At first glance without study it looks like an UNC note.

Extremely Fine, EF or XF
Generally three light folds or one strong fold which breaks the surface. There may also be slight rounding at the corners and a little loss of crispness.

Very Fine, VF
The note may have several folds, however, the note is still crisp and has a minimum of dirt. There may be minor tears or very small holes but nothing which distracts from the overall appearance of the note. Take an uncirculated note and crumple it once in your hand, then flatten it out: this is a Very Fine note. Repeat the crumpling and it's still pretty much a VF note.

Fine, F
A circulated note where individual folds and creases may no longer be visible. To distinguish this from a VF note, when inspecting a Fine note, it clearly does not look like a note which has merely been crumpled a few times: It doesn't have the crispness and brightness of a VF note. No tears may extend into the printing. This is your average well used note.

Very Good, VG
Tears and small holes can be present. The note is not crisp at all. It's dirty in places. This is your lower grade well worn and limp note. Many of the people on the 'net don't realize that a note in "very good" condition is really pretty bad appearing note.

Good, G
Small pieces missing, graffiti. A really worn out note.

Major tears, faded, very limp and a badly worn out note.

An even worse note, lost sections, graffiti, one that's been through a washing machine, and unless it was very, very rare, you would never consider adding it to your collection. Commonly know as wall paper in the trade.

I never add a note to my personal collection unless it's at least an extra fine (XF).

To grade a note precisely, it can help to hold the note about 8" to 10" under a strong 150 watt light source and on top of a white piece of paper and use a 5x power magnifying glass. Wash your hands before handling a note. I look at a note the same way I look at a coin. Start with a magnifying glass at the outside perimeter and move to the center, then do the same to the other side of the note. This method will show a lot of minor imperfections which are not normally visible and over the long haul give you a collection that any pro would love to own.

Notes from many countries have standard features which exist for even Uncirculated notes. Some notes from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma/Myanmar, India, Nepal, and Pakistan are usually found with staple holes, where staples are used to hold packs of notes together. Most dealers list Uncirculated notes of this type as having the usual staple holes (SH) (often abbreviated as SH-UNC).

Many notes printed in France have a slight crinkle effect. France also prints notes for a dozen or more of her earlier protectorates or colonies, so you can expect the same ripple effect in most of these countries notes.

Grading is subjective and not an exact science and no two people see a note exactly the same, so deal only with dealers who allow you to return a note that you think may be over graded. Many small mail order dealers have a tendency to over grade notes. So it's important that you learn to grade properly.

Click here for more information on Grading World Paper Money.


There are several good paper money societies/organizations that you can join to expand your knowledge and make additional contacts.

Society of Paper Money Collectors  (SPMC)
    Bob Cochran, Secretary
    P.O. Box 1085,
    Florissant, MO 63031  USA
    1,500 members

The SPMC covers US paper money collecting and they've been 
around since the early 1960s.

Professional Currency Dealers Association  (PCDA)
    Kevin Foley
    P.O. Box 573
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin  53201  USA

You can't join this group unless you are a professional dealer, however,
 you can  send SASE a for free list of members of it's dealers.  Also, 
send 60 cents for the booklet "How to Collect Paper Money" 
for additional information.

You can become a recognized dealer quite easily by applying to your
state or providence for a resale permit. This usually costs less than 

The International Bank Note Society (IBNS)

This is a good organization for learning about paper money.
They also have several large mail-in auctions and
a library accessible by mail.  The IBNS Journal is a 
scholarly source of info and has free ads for non-dealers.  
They have several thousand members and I believe there
is a member list available.

    General Secretary
    P.O. Box 1642
    Racine, WI 53401
    (414) 554-6255

    Assist. General Secretary
    36B Dartmouth Park Hill
    NW5 1HN
    071 281 0839

Latin American Paper Money Society (LANSA)
    Arthur C. Matz, president
    3304 Milford Mill Rd.
    Baltimore MD 21244
    Dues $8
    Publication: "Lansa" three times a year.

Canadian Paper Money Society (CPMS)
    P.O. Box 562
    Pickering, Ontario
    L1V 2R7

Hell Bank Note Collector's Club
    Mr. William Etgen, Secretary
    3600 Whitney Avenue
    Sacramento, CA  95821-3128
    Collecting Hell notes from around the World.

Newsletters and periodicals you can sign up for.

By signing the WSCE Guest Book, they will email or send you their newsletter and any special sales they are running on paper money, coins, or bullion.

The main periodicals are Paper Money Bank Note Reporter and the IBNS Journal. The SPMC and LANSA have periodicals, too.

For reasonably accurate prices on American notes, see the Green Sheets available from:

The Currency Dealer Newsletter
     P.O. Box 7939
     Torrance, Ca. 90504
     (310) 515-7369
     1 yr subscription = $44
     2 yr subscription = $78

Many of the different state coin clubs have newsletters with a portion of their newsletters covering coin shows and have space devoted to the paper money collectors and dealers.

Paper money shows that you can attend.

The Long Beach Coin Show held in California has major paper money dealers in attendance where you can buy bricks of paper money and the two biggest paper money shows are in Memphis (every June) and St. Louis (every October/November). There is also a big show in Maastrict every year in April. I think there is also a section in the Bank Note Reporter which details paper money shows in the USA and around the world. Most clubs within the states have a few paper money and coin shows every year. Coin World has these listings. Plus, from time to time they have articles on new paper money of the world that's being issued.

What are the Green and Grey Sheets?

The Grey Sheet is a coin newsletter and weekly price guide for collector coins, it's pointed at dealers by it's high cost. The Green Sheets are the currency equivalent of the Grey Sheets in coinworld. They give us current prices on a wide range of U.S. currency, and are published monthly. See newsletters and periodicals you can sign up for. They will send you a free sample copy of Green or Grey Sheet. They also have a newsletter they put out on third party graded coins (called slabbed coins in the industry).


Paper money, like coins, have both a market value and a personal value. These two concepts are very different. There are dealers who collect and sell notes from circulation just because the note has an interesting serial number or for other sentimental or marketing reasons. Don't let "market" forces blur the real meaning of being a collector.

When the value of the note becomes more important than the note itself, you have joined the dealer mentality. Banknotes brought from the wars by a relative and banknotes from a vacation can be the beginning of an exciting new collection. Many collections have been started by notes that Dad or Grandpa brought back from the 2nd world war, Korea, Vietnam, or the Gulf War and now Bosnia.

Where and how do I get banknotes appraised?

At this time there are no 3rd party grading firms for paper money, so the only way to determine the value of a note is to have a qualified paper money dealer look at the banknote. Sometimes a collector will send us a photocopy of both sides of a note for identification rather than the note itself. The note and where it came from can be discovered, but to give a value, usually the note has to be seen, if it's not uncirculated.

I have often thought about setting up a service of 3rd party grading for banknotes, but at 65, I think I'll leave it to someone with more ambition and time left.

Unless you are trying to quickly sell some inherited notes, I suggest you purchase the Krause Catalog on paper money from 1900 to the present. If you wish to sell us or trade notes or coins with us, send the notes for appraisal and offer. If trading, we will set a "Trade Account" and if you accept our offer, we put that amount of funds in your Trade Account and you can purchase any collector item in the site.

I have a US 35 to 57 Silver Certificate in circulated condition, how much is it worth?

This is one of the most common email question asked, and the answer is always, it's only worth face value on the market. If the note is in absolutely uncirculated condition, it might be worth a little bit more (ten dollar notes can be worth many times face value in UNC condition). There are some silver certificates from these series that are worth a good deal of money, but nearly all of the small silver certificates which show up in circulation aren't worth much.

The large size U.S. "horse blankets" (pre-1923) the large U.S. notes even in lower grades will command a hefty premium.

That1934 worn out silver certificate may well be worth something to you, and that's what counts. Not necessarily that the Krause catalog says it's only worth face value. Time and note appreciation usually takes care of any so called mistakes that are made when first starting out. It's like all that gold you may have bought at $40.00 an ounce 25 years ago.

Is a US 1963-1998 banknote worth anything?

Most notes from 1963 to the present are collected in large quantities and the supply of these notes is not going to be limited anytime soon. Notes with errors, replacement notes (with stars next to serial number), low serial numbers, interesting serial numbers, etc. can be worth much more than face value. We have some back over printed on the front $1.00 banknotes that are worth from $50.00 to $95.00. These $1.00 banknotes were found in a brick of 100 notes bought for cash register change.

Uncut sheets of 4 to 8 banknotes from the U.S. and other countries are sold for several times face value and over the years have had very good appreciation.

Are US two dollar bills worth anything?

A crisp uncirculated 1976 two dollar bill can fetch up to $2.00 over face value, unless there's something else about it to make it valuable. A number of other two dollar bills have been printed with series 1963, 1953, 1928 and previous. The older notes are generally worth more, but their value depends on the signatures and condition.

WSCE presently has $1.00, $2.00, and $5.00 uncut banknote sheets with either 4 notes or 8 notes at very competitive prices.

My grandfather died and left me some very old banknotes in perfect condition, what should I do?

Treat them as if they were worth hundreds of dollars, until you find out their real market value. People do inherit or find rare notes every now and then. You can take them to several dealers in banknotes for an offer or you can send them to us for our cash or trade offer, this will give you an idea in value and resale ability.

A friend found a banknote from country XYZ, how much is it worth?

Many people have had notes identified online by posting a picture or description of the note and having the other collectors or experts identify it. I've even identified notes which were digitally scanned with the image sent to me via e-mail where I displayed and identified them.

Some dealers or collectors that you have a relationship with will allow you to fax both sides of a note for identification.

If you want to get a rough estimate on the value of a particular note, you need to provide a substantial amounts of information about it or simply fax it or send it to your favorite dealer. Sometimes, the value of a note can differ based on who signed it, dates, color, or even the number of digits in the serial number. The information you should include are the following facts...

I have a US $10.00 Federal Reserve Note with some numbers I think are in the wrong place. Is it counterfeit or what?

It could possibly be a web press banknote. In the U.S., the Bureau of Engraving & Printing (BEP) has been experimenting with new web presses beginning with the 1988 series notes. The web presses use a continuous roll of paper, rather than the individual cut sheets used for the regular presses. They have a 96-note plate, rather than the 32-note plate, so the plate position indicators, at upper left on the face of the note are not there.

The Fort Worth Web Press Banknotes (WPB)(FW)

The plate check numbers are at lower right on the face and back, usually a letter and up to a four digit number, have been replaced by a one or two-digit number. (On the regular notes FW in front of the PC number indicates that the notes were printed at Fort Worth, Texas, rather than at Washington, DC.) On the web press notes, the back PC number has been moved to the upper right. Compare several Web Press Notes with standard 32 plate notes and you will be able to identify(WPB) notes at a glance.


I have a note with a small star next to the serial number, what does this star mean?

The star means it's a replacement banknote. When printing errors are found on banknotes during printing, the error notes are destroyed when found and replaced with good "replacement notes". This is so a known group of serial numbers contains a known number of banknotes. The star replacement notes have their own serial number group that is independent of the regular issue banknotes.

Star replacement notes are generally worth more than regular issue notes, again depending on condition, value is especially high in combination with an already rare note or low serial number.

Most counties have replacement notes, although most of them do not use a star marking to identify replaced banknotes. Some countries use a "Z" or "ZZ" indicator in the serial number or some other little known method, here is where the highly specialized books on banknotes come to play.

Again, we stock specialized coin and paper money books from other countries, where the authors have critical information you may need to establish the rarity and real value of your notes.

What's JIM money?

My dad gave me some paper money that says "Government of Japan".

You have Japanese Invasion Money (JIM). Invasion money was printed by Japan for use in The Philippines, Malaya, Burma, and Oceania during World War II as part of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Enormous quantities of these notes were printed and distributed and most of them are not worth a whole lot at this time. They do have an interesting history to those warriors that helped take back the islands and brought the Japanese invasion money home. Some have various overprints on them and sometimes the overprints will add considerable value to an otherwise inexpensive note.

Prices and scarcity will vary on the different monetary units. "JIM's" have no place to go except up. You might put a few JIM notes back for future family generations. Listed below are the more commonly available JIMs

Burma: rupees/cents (block letters starting with "B")
Philippines: pesos/centavos
Malaya: dollars/cents (block letters starting with "M")
Oceania: pounds/shillings (block letters starting with "O")
Netherlands Indies: gulden/cents (block letters starting with "S" - "De Japansche Regeering" instead of "The Japanese Government")

In the past the Malaya invasion banknotes have been marketed and sold as "invasion" money, supposedly created to help the conquering of the U.S., but time has shown this concept to be incorrect.

You might consider purchasing some bricks of the JIM notes to use as trading stock with Japanese collectors or other world wide note collectors. We are presently working at getting up a starter set of JIM notes.


I recently purchased a note marked "SPECIMEN" with holes punched in it and with a serial number of zeros, what is it?

Many specimen notes are printed just for collectors and bank or law enforcement, as a visual reference to identify the banknotes. Most countries have specimen notes where the word "specimen" is printed in the local language. Sometimes the notes are perforated with the word specimen in that countries language.

Some will have specimen overprinted and holes as large as a 1/4 inch punched in them.

Most all specimen notes are often worth more than banknotes printed for general circulation, but there are a few exceptions, usually it's when a large quantity of specimen notes are created for collectors. Specimen notes are not legal tender in the issuing country, so they don't have a face value for redemption.

Usually these specimen notes are found in uncirculated condition. There is a rather large group of international collectors that only collect these specimen banknotes. If you are looking for an area that has over the years appreciated considerably and you have the money to do, this is a great area of collecting to be in.



I purchased at auction along with some other notes a Chinese banknote that is labelled "Hell", what is it?

I had purchased a Chinese note which I couldn't identify, so I asked a fellow collector about this note. He explained to me that a Buddhist tradition is to create paper money which is supposedly legal tender in the Hell afterlife. This paper is then burned, so that dead ancestors who might have ended up in Hell would have something to spend. Chinese people even create paper cars, houses, and other physical objects out of paper and burn them, so their ancestors can have basic luxuries in hell. Noting that the denomination on the phony note was ten million, I figured there must be a large inflation problem in Hell as well as the rest of the world.

How much are these "Hell Notes" worth? Whatever the traffic will bare.

Yes, some people really do collect all forms of "hell money" from China and other Asian countries.

If you have an extensive collection of hell notes, I think you might find a strong market for a book and price guide for them. I can see the title now: "Chinese Notes Gone to Hell".


What is a watermark and why do most countries notes have them?

Most countries have banknotes with watermarks. The USA added a watermark to its $100 note in 1996 and new $50 note.

The watermark is a design that's within the paper of the note itself which can be seen by holding it up to the light. Watermarks are an effective and very old, anti-counterfeiting device that is very effective. That's why the U.S. recently added them. There has been a very brisk business overseas in counterfeit dollars.

If you live outside of the U.S. in some really free country, you can collect counterfeit U.S. notes. If you live in the U.S., you can have them confiscated and be sent to prison. So much for freedom in the U.S.

USA PAPER MONEY (i.e. Good Old Depreciating Greenbacks)

The U.S. is changing it's paper money.

In the last eight years much of it has already been changed by BEP. The series 1990 (and 1993) 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollar notes have had two major security features added. Each banknote has a plastic security thread/ribbon running vertically through the note with writing such as "USA TEN", "USA TWENTY", "USA 100". Around the portrait there is very small lettering, called micro printing and it spells out "The United States of America".

The Bureau of Engraving & Printing (BEP) released completely overhauled 50 and 100 dollar bills. The portraits have been enlarged and moved over to the side, a watermark was added, and several new anti-counterfeiting features were added, such as color shifting ink (it's dark green when viewed directly head on and black when tilted) and concentric circle printing on the reverse, so that attempts at photocopying the note will result in several odd patterns appearing in the copy.

On the heels of the 100 dollar note, a new 50 dollar note is now in circulation, a new 20 dollar note is planned for release this year, and new notes all the way down to a new 1 dollar note that is scheduled to be released in 2001.

The current style notes will still remain legal tender. However, since the average U.S. note lasts only 18 months in circulation, it won't be long until the older notes disappear from circulation. If you are a U.S. collector and have the money you might consider putting away some uncirculated old style $50.00 and $100.00 notes from the different issuing banks.

What is a National Banknote?

Shortly after the US Civil War (1865 and up to1935), the US government created a number of bank charters for individual private banks to print their own paper money, which was then backed by the US Government. There were a large number of national banks chartered all over the USA, (Nashville, Tennessee; Key West, Florida; Bismarck, North Dakota; L.A., and San Francisco, California). Many people collect "nationals" and the prices have gone up substantially and dramatically over the last 10 years. These national notes are proven investment winners and always in high demand. Another good area of U.S. collecting, if you have big bucks.

What are U.S. Silver Certificates and U.S. Gold Certificates?

From 1878 and up through 1957, the US issued Silver Certificates, most of which look pretty similar to current US paper money. These notes were backed by silver. In a similar manner, Gold Certificates were issued from 1863 up to 1922 and were claimed to be backed by gold stored at mints or in U.S. depositories. However, the government reniged in 1968 to redeem Silver Certificates and I think they reniged on gold certificates in 1932. If anyone has information on the formal date, please send it.

Can you still exchange Silver Certificates for real silver?

Up until 1968, you could exchange your Silver Certificates for real silver. Nowadays you can't.

I remember when they put the deadline in and a friend said he went to turn in several thousand dollars at the San Francisco mint and there was a line everyday for 3 blocks and they ran out of silver before he made it to the window.

Some US notes are stamped with the word HAWAII, why?

During World War II, the US wanted to keep Hawaii's paper money isolated from the rest of the USA in case Japan invaded Hawaii. Today the Hawaiian stamped banknotes are worth a considerable premium over face value, in better conditions.

What is U.S. fractional currency, sometimes called stamp money?

Before, during, and after the Civil War, the US was always short on silver money and small copper change, so it printed paper money with denominations of less than one dollar. These are much smaller than other U.S. paper money and are more affordable than the larger notes of that era. The denominations available are 3, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents.

At the time, the government promoted and claimed it was created to purchase stamps for our new cross country mail service first by Pony Express and then trains.

This is another highly collected field that has had good appreciation over the last 10 years.

What is obsolete currency (broken banknotes, wildcat notes)?

Before there were National banknotes (1790-1865), many private banks issued their own currency without US Government backing. These notes became worthless when banks went out of business. Many of them were counterfeited and altered. When the new national bank system was created, privately issued paper money was turned in and was taxed to the point of being outlawed. Unlike U.S. Government paper money, that has always remained legal tender, obsolete banknotes are now obsolete and have no redemption rights. Many printed copies on parchment paper are out there, so pay attention when you purchase, you are not buying the parchment paper notes.

Obsolete notes can be more affordable than national banknotes and sometimes more interesting when you can find them.

There is a great many (millions) of counterfeit U.S. notes circulating worldwide.

A great number of counterfeit fifty and hundred dollar bills are showing up all over the world. This is especially true in Europe. This is just one of the driving forces for changing the US currency. Although the impact of the counterfeit notes on the US economy is very small, they do undermine the worldwide reputation of American money. There is some speculation is that these notes are being printed by counterfeiters in Iran and Syria

The new high dollar color copiers and high dollar color computer printers, also make it very easy to make realistic looking counterfeits. Read the next section for legal information about copying U.S. banknotes.

Government Regulations

If you are an American, U.S. counterfeit notes are illegal to collect, own, sell, trade, give away or any other form of disposal. According to the government they should be turned in to the Secret Service. You can be prosecuted for collecting counterfeits. Only in America are you free? The nation with the most laws governing the people is the least free. It's interesting to note that America has the most laws of any country by far.

The Secret Service reported that 209 million dollars in counterfeit US money was seized in 1994. There was $110 million seized in 1993. I haven't seen the recent figures.

It is illegal to copy U.S. paper money.

The U.S. government says it is illegal to make any color copies of any kind of small-size U.S. notes. They may only be copied in black and white and must be larger than 150 percent of the note size, or less than 75 percent of the note size. Large size notes may be copied in color, but the official regulations setting out the specifics HAVE NOT BEEN ISSUED. To be on the safe side, use the 150-75 formula set up for black and white photos.

Writing, facsimile, or "COPY" or something similar, or copying only a portion of a note does not exempt you from the copying law. The act of copying is the crime.

So far the government hasn't said whether or not it's legal to scan US paper money into a digital picture. One branch of the Federal Reserve had a black and white scanned image of the new $100 note online, it might be ok to scan it in black and white.

It is illegal to use U.S. paper money on products or in advertising.

The U.S. government says photographs of notes, or portions of notes may not be used in any form of advertising. The regulations permit their use only for educational purposes. This regulation is being violated by a number of major TV networks, computer magazine publishers, telephone cards, key chains, watch fobs, calculators, and other products carrying paper money designs are subject to confiscation by the Secret Service. This may also applies to telephone cards.

Old U.S. government banknotes are still legal tender.

Every note that has ever been backed by the US Government is still honored by the US Government. However, depositing an 1863 gold certificate for face value would be foolish, but it's still legally possible. Never mind trying to collect the gold, the U.S. government reniged on their gold certificates also.

It's interesting to note that it's constitutionally illegal to charge state sales tax on money, however, in the state of California if you sell U.S. collector currency for more than face value, you have to collect sale tax on it. The same is true if you sell U.S. silver currency in lots of less than $1,000.00 in face value.

Are banknotes with Barr's signature good investments?

No, you will probably have to wait a couple of generations for it to appreciate.

These Barr signed notes draw more questions than any other note, although there is still a large part of the U.S. population that still doesn't know that "In God We Trust" hasn't always appeared on our banknotes.

Joseph W. Barr served as Treasurer for one month in 1968-1969, his signature appearing only on the 1963-B series of $1 notes. 484 million notes were printed with his signature, so they are not likely to become scarce in our lifetime. 471,040,000 1963-B notes printed with his signature. There were also star notes - 3,680,000 for New York, 3,040,000 for Richmond, 2,400,000 for Chicago and 3,040,000 for San Francisco. Millions of these banknotes are being gathered up by non-collectors acting on rumors. Uncirculated Barr signed banknotes may bring you a slight premium, when you can find a buyer.

The story behind the Bank of the United States 1840 $1,000 note with serial number 8894.

This much and often copied $1,000 note has caused more wasted postage, phone calls, time and energy than any other reproduction on the market. The Bank of United States $1000 note with serial number 8894 is one of the most copied banknotes in the world. A new method of creating parchment paper was discovered in the early 1960s.

One firm has produced millions of copies of this note and other early U.S. banknotes, especially broken notes and Confederate money. The note has been widely used in national advertising and for several years was used on shipping boxes that one firm shipped blank checks to customers. The original of this note is on normal bank printing paper, and is in existence, so your $1,000 copy is worthless.

Every week we see a dozen or more of these light yellow parchment paper copies of early banknotes, as people bring them into our store to hopefully get rich. For years at the California State Fair you could purchase 25 of these copied parchment notes for a buck.

These copies have had some value in that they started many people in collecting of original notes. Many of the copies were printed only in black and on both sides. Many were only printed on the front side. Many of these notes have a parchment ripple effect in the paper.

U.S. Federal Reserve Bank Locations.

Nowadays, all U.S. paper notes are Federal Reserve Banknotes. The Federal Reserve Banks that control their issues were created in 1913 by the Federal Reserve Act.

Below is a list of the 12 U.S. Federal Reserve Banks. This list also includes their associated letter (found inside a black seal type circle on the left side of a Federal Reserve Notes) and associated number is also found on Federal Reserve Notes. If you collect U.S. small notes, it's a good idea to memorize the letter of location:

1   A  Boston
2   B  New York
3   C  Philadelphia
4   D  Cleveland
5   E  Richmond
6   F  Atlanta
7   G  Chicago
8   H  St. Louis
9   I  Minneapolis
10  J  Kansas City
11  K  Dallas  
12  L  San Francisco
On many federal reserve notes the issuing bank will make a major difference in the selling price of an older note. There are collectors who only collect crisp uncirculated notes from a particular bank. Others collect the ones that have had the greatest amount of appreciation over the years. We have several local collectors who only collect "L" notes from San Francisco.

Symbols on U.S. Banknotes

What do all those symbols mean on a one dollar banknote?

On the face of a U.S. banknote, the black seal to the left of the portrait is the Federal Reserve Seal and Letter of the issuing bank. The green seal to the right is the U.S. Treasury Seal. The four black numbers near the corners are Federal Reserve Numbers.

The design on the back of the $1 bill on the right side is the Great Seal of the United States of America. This design was created by an act of Congress on June 20, 1782. On the left side is the pyramid and it is a Freemason emblem, the eye in the triangle is a symbol of God. The motto "annuit coeptis" is translated as "he hath smiled on our undertakings". The "novus ordo seclorum" means "a new order of centuries". It appears that at least a few of our political leaders in early days were visionaries.

An early government pamphlet says, the Unfinished Pyramid stands for "permanence and strength." It is unfinished to symbolize the "future growth and goal of perfection" of the U.S. The All-Seeing Eye stands for a "deity." The 13 stars overhead, 13 vertical stripes in the shield, 13 olive leaves, and 13 arrows all represent the original 13 founding colonies.

The roman numeral date on the base of the pyramid is 1776. The right-hand side roundel shows the coat of arms of the US: the 13 stars above the Eagle's head represent "a new constellation in the firmament of nations" this according to the 1782 government tract.

The many little numbers and letters on the front and back are check letters, face plate letters, quadrant numbers, and back plate numbers. They are used to identify the printing plates and the position of the note on the plate. These items will vary in location on different series and denominations.

The device for an armorial achievement, and reverse, of the great seal of the Unites States in congress assembled, is as follows:

ARMS: Paleways of 13 pieces, argent and gules; a chief, azure; the "escutcheon on the breast of the American eagle displayed proper, holding in its dexter talon an olive branch, and in his sinister a bundle of 13 arrows, all proper, in his beak a scroll, inscribed with this motto: E pluribus unum.

CREST: over the head of the eagle, which appears above the escutcheon, a glory, or, breaking through a cloud, proper, and surrounding 13 stars, forming a constellation argent an azure field.

REVERSE: A pyramid unfinished. In the zenith, an eye in a triangle, surrounded by a glory, proper. Over the eye these words: Annuit coeptis. On the base of the pyramid the numerical letters, MDCCLXXVI. And underneath, the following motto: Novus ordo seclorum."

There has been a great deal of speculation about the 2 different seals and their symbology. To have a full understanding of their meaning, you might want to read an early book on Free Masonry by Murphy. These early Free mason books can usually be found at used book stores for $20.00 to $25.00.

Where can I buy new uncut sheets of U.S. paper money?

Washington Square Coin Exchange usually has a good selection. New issues are usually available from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) sells various sheets of uncut 1, 2 and 5 dollar notes. They come in 4, 16, and 32 per sheet. They cycle through the various Federal Reserve Banks from time to time. The cost varies from $10.25 (4 one dollar notes) to $79.00. You can order new issues from:

Order Processing Center
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
P.O. Box 371594
Pittsburgh, PA  15250-7594
+1 (202)874-3315

BEP will accept checks, Visa, MC, or money orders. New issue sheets may be ordered flat or rolled and officially take 4-6 weeks to ship. However, you can wait up to six months or longer if they do not have them in stock.

Portraits on the front of U.S. currency with buildings or denominations on the reverse.

These are the portraits and reverse symbols used on past and current U.S. banknotes.

                     Portraits                Reverse (Back of Note)
           1.00      George Washington ...... Great Seal of U.S.
           2.00      Thomas Jefferson ....... Declaration of Independence
           5.00      Abraham Lincoln ........ Lincoln Memorial
          10.00      Alexander Hamilton ..... U.S. Treasury Building
          20.00      Andrew Jackson ......... White House
          50.00      U.S. Grant ............. U.S. Capital
         100.00      Benjamin Franklin ...... Independence Hall

         500.00      William McKinley ....... $500.
        1000.00      Grover Cleveland ....... One Thousand Dollars
        5000.00      James Madison .......... $5000.
      10,000.00      Salmon P. Chase ........ $10,000.
     100,000.00      Woodrow Wilson ......... $100,000.
BEP no longer prints the 500.00 and up banknotes and you will find that the 500.00 to 100,000.00 bills, when they can be found, have substantial premiums over face value. There are some large denomination copies of some of these banknotes floating around. Most of them are less than 75% of the original size.

The weight of US banknotes.

There are 490 U.S. banknotes to the pound, no matter the denomination.


How do I get banknotes from any world country?

Your best bet is to always go through a large dealer like WSCE, or maybe another major collector. There are both general dealers and specialty dealers. General dealers are usually less money per note and will not have the really high dollar notes of a particular country. You will need to find a specialized dealer in most cases.

Most countries have a few notes that cost less than 1 or 2 US dollars. Countries with rampant inflation will have many of notes from earlier years which are very inexpensive (South America, Yugoslavian countries, Eastern Europe) and now the Far East has had a recent currency collapse and some good buys are available.

Most large dealers get their notes from contacts within the countries who buy CU packs (crisp uncirculated). These packs are called "bricks" in the trade. We have and other dealers can take big losses when mail contacts in remote countries take their money and run. Some countries don't allow currency to be taken out of the country, so people have to risk jail or punishment to get the notes. Doing business wholesale is tricky, if you travel to a remote part of the world, you can get dealers to pay you a commission to pick up bricks of that countries paper money.

However, I would find out if that country has a limitation on the amount of currency you can take out of a country and limit yourself to that amount. The jails and prisons of most countries make American prisons look like country clubs and resorts.

How do I get banknotes from every country in the world?

Washington Square Coin Exchange has notes sold in packages of 10, 25, 50, and 100 different countries at very reasonable prices. This is a common way to collect and your best bet is to get a copy of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Volume 2 (General Issues). You then have a road map of current and past paper money and how much it will cost. This allows you to see which notes you received and additional banknotes you really want to have from that country, which you wouldn't otherwise know about.

A good start is to buy a selection of general world notes from a dealer like WSCE (e.g. 50 different notes for 25 dollars). You can then build on this over time with selected notes. Check out our wholesale prices on regular and super sets.

It's probably possible to put together a set of notes from all countries for a few hundred dollars. You can probably cover half of all countries for under a hundred dollars.

Germany's Operation Bernhardt carried on during WWII

During World War II, Germany created 10's of thousands of high quality counterfeits of the British 5 pound note of the time. These fake banknotes were created by Jews and Gypsies in German concentration camps, under the code name "Operation Bernhardt".

WWII German concentration camp money

During World War II, Germany created paper money for use in some of their concentration camps. The fake notes were created by the prisoners of the camps and are of generally high quality. Many Jewish people collect these notes for historical reasons and as a reminder of the events that happened to their race and their relatives.

Collecting Confederate States of America (CSA) notes is a major collecting area.

Many collectors, dealers, and many people from other countries collect only CSA notes. Some of them are still affordable and some a picture of the note will be as close as you ever get to owning one.

Be very careful as there are numerous copies of the Confederate notes, including packets of copies sold at popular National Park battlefields and southern state fairs. Many can be identified by the serial numbers alone.

You will find that CSA notes are contained within the World paper money section of the Krause books and not the USA paper money section. Again, forget about Krause's prices as they have no meaning in reality.

Many world countries now currently issue their own paper money.

Most of the old Soviet Block countries now issue their own currency and have created new monetary systems and even new denominations. The West African States covers eight countries, each has a unique letter associated with it. Czechoslovakia recently split into two countries, each having their own currency. The Eastern Caribbean dollar covers many small independent islands.

Below is a list of paper money by issuing governments. There are about the same number of governments which have issued paper money in the past, but are not doing so currently.

I believe that the future will reward those who collect money from past countries that no longer exist under their old monetary system or name.

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belarus, Belize, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Cambodia/Kampuchea, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Caribbean States, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faeroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Geogria, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, North Korea, South Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldavia, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, St. Helena, St. Thomas and Prince, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Surinam, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Western African States, Western Samoa, Yemen, Yugoslavia (Serbia), Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe

We have starter banknote packages for many of the countries and we are constantly adding more. If you do not see a package you are interested in, drop us an email and we will se what we can do.

Many banknotes from various countries have the printing company name on their banknotes.

Private printers from around the world produce a large portion of the world's paper money. When allowed, the printers put their names in small lettering at the bottom of the notes they print. Some of the prominent printers are: Thomas De La Rue (England) and American Bank Note Company (ABNC). There are many more worldwide and they are listed in the Krause Paper Money catalog indexes and in speciality banknote books.

The plastic banknotes from Australia.

Over the last 10 years Australia has developed a technology for creating plastic banknotes. These notes are smooth plastic with intense and high resolution coloring. They have a small see-through window with a watermark-like design in it. The Australian 10 dollar note from 1988 actually contains a hologram. Many people don't like these new plastic notes because they are difficult to handle.

A new material now being used is Tyvek plastic, these banknotes are more paperlike in texture than Australian plastic notes. Tyvek is the kind of tough plastic used in the fibrous plastic Federal Express envelopes.

There are several countries now using plastic banknotes. They are Australia (4), Singapore, Western Samoa (2), Papua New Guinea, Kuwait, Indonesia, Isle of Man, and Haiti.

Other forms of plastic money have been tax tokens, created by the states and used in the second world war, casino chips, and the all time favorite plastic money of American citizens, the credit card.

Military issue paper money and Military Payment Certificate (Script).

Military Payment Certificates called script or funny money by the troops, is the US version of the military issues. Script is issued by many governments for use by military personnel who are based in an area outside the jurisdiction of the government. The US issues are intended to limit black market in U.S. dollars.

Normally one could purchase this script at the PX's or BX's on base. Looking at some of the prices on the higher denomination of U.S. military script, makes one wish he had purchased a couple of bricks of it when in the service. Most of the U.S. script is quite beautiful and has high quality art & printing. It's the area I enjoy collecting.

What is the highest denomination note ever issued?

Hyper inflation raged in Hungary during 1945 and 1946 (after World War II). The Hungarian government printed the 1 milliard B. pengo banknote. It was never issued for general circulation. One milliard B. pengo corresponds to a denomination of... 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pengo.

To give you an idea of the mind-boggling denomination of this 21 zero number, consider that if these were US dollars, there would be enough money for every human on Earth to have over 200 billion dollars each!

The highest denomination issued was the next lower denomination note which was 100,000,000 B. pengo note (only 20 billion dollars each).

We have these Pengo B Notes in stock. Click here to see our Hungarian Banknotes.

Collecting Topicals (Paper Money-Not Stamps)

Collecting topicals can be a real treasure hunt and you can experience all the excitement of a good treasure hunt.

There are several ways to go about finding the notes for your topical collection. For example, let's say you are behind the Endangered Species Act and decide to collect wildlife notes. You could start by purchasing one or more of our sets, then you could look through our site and purchase individual wildlife notes from other countries that feature their country's wildlife on the front or back of the notes.

Another helping hand would be to purchase Krause's Standard World Catalog of Paper Money. You would start at the front and look through it country by country and write down the "Pick" numbers of the notes you wished to purchase. This would give you a solid foundation of banknotes to start with and gives your collection a direction.

Now that you have all the Pick numbers written down you can send away for banknotes price lists and select the notes you wish. This type of collecting program works equally well with any types of topicals or banknotes you want to collect.

Like the old times say, "Buy the books, then the banknotes".

Collecting the World

If you wish to start a world collection inexpensively and give yourself hundreds of hours of collecting enjoyment, purchase our 100 Banknote Set and 100 Mylar Pocket Sheets that hold up to four banknotes. These sheets fit standard 3-hole binders. I suggest either the 3 1/2" or 4" wide binder - the 4" binder will hold approximately 100 3 & 4 note Mylar sheets. You can then put identification tabs on the right side of the sheets for quick access to any country. If you decide on this simple solution for show and storage I suggest you purchase Krause's Standard World Catalog of Paper Money so you can identify all the notes in the package of 300.

Sell U.S. Banknotes & World Paper Money

WSCE will pay top dollar on both U.S. and world paper money.

The prices paid will depend on condition, year date, signatures, and country of origin.

The types of paper money we purchase is as follows:

Trading Notes

If you have duplicates or wish to trade notes for other paper money, coins, or bullion related products - we do it.

Send notes and we will issue you a "Trade Credit". Each note you send will be graded and inspected and credit by price establishing the amount of "Trade Credit". You are then able to purchase up to your Trade Credit amount. Trade Credits are good for any items we sell.

Our shipping address is:

526 D St.
Marysville, CA 95901
Phone (530) 743-1900
Fax (530) 743-1919

Please send registered or certified with return receipt required.

Paper Money Verses Collector Coins

Over the last 10 years, it appears that paper money as an item of collection has had much better price appreciation than coins. Some U.S. & foreign banknotes have appreciated 8 or 10 times their cost 10 years ago, while many coins during this time period have lost 1/3 to 1/2 their value.

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