and/or display your notes should be determined largely by how much you
paid for them, how prized they are by you, how scarce they are in
and finally, your own particular taste. If you just collect
modern notes, often-times the holder you put the note in is worth
as much as the note itself! But for valuable items, you should use
grade MYLAR holders or albums. The albums especially can get quite
but if you have the truly rare notes, this may be the route to
Many dealers use the polyester (also called MYLAR) 5x8 holders for
their stock. These are
generally from 30 - 40 cents each depending on the quantity you buy.
the 5x8 holders can be placed in a box or container of suitable size
built of a relatively inert material so as not to cause a problem with
your collection. Do not use holders containing PVC for long-term
of your notes as they can react with paper as they do with metal.
There are some very thin holders now on the market which are crystal
clear and seem to be polyester. These should make good holders
for low-value notes.
your notes may also be determined by where you will store them, i. e.
they're going into a narrow safety deposit box, you can rule out using
big albums. If you're using labels on your holders, which most
use, make sure they can be peeled off in one piece in the event you
to change the label or want to use the holder for a different
care should be taken to store notes in the proper environmental
(40 to 50 percent humidity is ideal to prevent the paper from drying
Obviously you don't want to keep them in a place that's too damp where
mold or mildew could form. Insects and other "critters" can be
destructive to your valued notes! Bright and constant light is
hazard as the ink on notes will fade when subjected to a lot of bright
light for an extended period. Other considerations include
notes in a good location protected from calamities such as floods and
as well as theft, as much as possible.
SPECIAL NOTE - We are always receiving
emails like "I have a 1934
hundred dollar bill. What's it worth?" We regret
that we are unable to answer most of these queries. In the first
place, notes really need to be examined in person to determine if the
item is genuine, then to assign a grade to it so that a correct
valuation may be assessed. Secondly, time just does not allow us
to answer all of these in a thorough manner. Occasionally, we
will answer some questions but usually more related to helping someone
identify a specific bill rather than assigning a value estimate to it.
value of a properly graded note can be ascertained most correctly when
actual market conditions are known. Reasonable estimates can also
often be gleaned from books on paper currency, such as Pick's Standard
Catalog Of World Paper Money, dealers'
lists, auction results for scarcer notes, etcetera. As with grading,
more you study a note in the market place, the more accurate you are
to be when it comes to assigning a retail value.
"Buy the book
you buy the coin" is great advice that can also be applied to banknotes
and any other collectible, for that matter. If you're just
into the hobby and are on a limited budget, you may want to consider
an older or used book such as the Pick book mentioned above. Old
auction catalogs can often be picked up reasonably and are often
in book-like quality (or better!). Your local library may be a
source to check out some books before you decide whether you want to
one or not.
are price catalogs may go out of date quickly due to changing market
However, they'll still supply lots of valuable information. Even new
catalogs contain inaccurate pricing information on certain notes.
Prices are often too high or too low, so research
is wise if you're spending substantial
money on an item. We've seen items priced at
can actually be found commonly for just a few dollars.
a number of current notes may list at around the exchange rate.
could give the collector the mistaken belief that these notes should be
available at that price. A dealer couldn't make a living selling
notes at the exchange rate since he would normally buy them at that
(or close to it). Additionally,
examples of notes, even of current notes, can be surprisingly tough to
come by, therefore such items could command more of a premium.
Rapidly advancing markets, as mentioned previously, can also make
quickly outdated. Consider the current market on U. S. federal
paper money as an example of this.
as with coins, the wholesale value of an item will be a smaller pct. of
the retail value if it is a less expensive piece, although this
does not always apply. Scarce notes from tough-to-find areas
are popular with collectors will always command a decent wholesale
as well, particularly high-grade items, if the note is in fact
in high grade.
me to a final point I'd like to make. What grade(s) should you collect?
What should be your minimum acceptable grade? You will be able to
these questions easier if you know (a) what you're going to collect and
(b) how much money you're willing to spend on notes. If you
you want to collect the early banknotes of Mexico, for example, you'll
quickly find that many of them aren't available past the grade of very
good or fine, regardless of how much money you have to spend. This
mean you shouldn't collect them. On the other hand, if you want to
just low-cost modern issues, probably you'll want to collect them in a
some people who won't touch a note that grades less than UNC, even if
AU-UNC and is offered at a super low price! These people I
refer to as UNC-o-maniancs. However, it's up to the individual to
determine what notes they want to collect, how much they want to spend,
and what grades they want to collect as well. For me, a note in VF or
should certainly have nearly the eye appeal of an UNC note and makes a
nice addition in many cases. Of course, being a collector of the
old Mexican bancos notes, it's obvious that I will accept certain notes
in much lower grades! People getting into the hobby for
purposes should of course always buy the best grade obtainable.
note that the prior statement is not
an endorsement of the paper money hobby as an investment