Collecting paper money is exciting because notes are colorful and attractive. Like coins, paper currency teaches you about art, history, economics, and more. People have been collecting paper money since the mid-20th century. Today, it’s a hobby practiced by many numismatics!

Getting started

As a beginner collector, it’s important to decide which type of notes you will collect. For instance, there are legal tenders, silver certificates, gold certificates, and Federal Reserve notes. Paper money in the United States has been issued in denominations ranging from one dollar to $100,000. However, denominations larger than $100 have been removed from circulation since 1969, due to lack of demand. In fact, none of these notes have been printed in the U.S. since the 1940s.

silver_certificate
silver certificate

The Friedberg Numbering System

In the 1950s, Robert Friedberg published the Paper Money of the United States, which illustrates the Friedberg Numbering System for collecting paper currency. Friedberg devised an organizing number system of all types of U.S. notes, which is still used today. This system includes a shorthand method for identifying paper money based on its design, series and signatures.

Determining value

While age plays an important role in determining the value of paper money, factors such as condition and demand are also crucial factors. Condition refers to the handling or wear of the certificate. The lower the grade of a note the lower the value. Demand is also a major factor in determining the value of paper money. More often than not, large-size silver certificates and legal tender notes are more popular than other forms of paper currency. Because more collectors are seeking these notes, the price can be affected.

Certified notes

Like coins, paper currency can be graded and certified by independent services. Two companies that can certify paper money are PCGS Currency and Paper Money Guaranty (PMG). Having your notes certified will give non-collectors assurance of the grade and authenticity of the currency. More importantly, certified notes hold more value in the paper money market than uncertified notes.

certified paper notes
certified paper notes

Protecting your money

One of the most important tips regarding paper currency is that notes should never be removed from the sealed holders. At Great American Coin Company, we offer a variety of paper money holders for easy viewing and examination of your notes. It’s important that you do not try to clean your paper money. Cleaning will damage the note and reduce its collectable appeal. Lastly, it’s best to store your paper currency somewhere with low humidity and sunlight.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on 

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Great American Coin Company