Editor's note: The following is the first of a multi-part Coin
World series prepared by Michele Orzano for the September 2014
monthly edition of Coin World.
Read the first post in the series:
Collecting paper cash from circulation can provide surprising and
inexpensive fun. And you do not have to start with $1 Federal Reserve
notes, though it's the most inexpensive way to start for most
collectors. But if your pockets, or a friend's pockets, are deep
enough you could move up to higher denominations.
You can search for as many series year dates as you can find. You
can know where the notes you have were printed at the Bureau of
Engraving and Printing's Fort Worth, Texas, facility. And you can also
double up on the categories. For example, while looking for series
year dates, you should also take a look at the different facsimile
signature combinations for each series.
Putting together a set of 12 Federal Reserve districts from each
series year date, with different signature combinations, is yet
another way to form an inexpensive collection.
Below are the series year dates on $1 FRNs that you’re likely to
still encounter in circulation and their corresponding signature combinations:
- Series 2003A: United States Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral and
U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow.
- Series 2006:
Treasurer Cabral and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.
- Series 2009: Treasurer Rosa Gumataotao Rios and Treasury
Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.
- Series 2013: Treasurer Rios
and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
Just looking over this list, you can quickly see the possibilities
of building sub-sets of signature combinations.
Treasurers Cabral and Rios signatures are matched with two different
Treasury secretaries on two different series. So a collector’s
sub-sets could be treasurers and series year dates, and then the
collector could move on to treasurers, series year dates and printing
plant — either Fort Worth or Washington, D.C.
Now it’s time to move to the two serial numbers on the face of your notes.
Serial numbers appear in two places on all Federal Reserve notes,
and on a note, the same eight-digit sequence should appear in both
places. Except for the newer higher denomination notes, a single
letter appears before the numbers; normally, another letter will
appear at the end of the eight numbers.
For $1 and $2 Federal Reserve notes, which continue to be of an
older design style, the prefix letter is the same letter used in
referencing a particular Federal Reserve Bank in the seal (for
example, a note with a prefix A was printed for the Boston Fed), and
the suffix letter identifies the “block” (or, in simple terms,
production run) in which a particular note was produced.
On those newer higher denomination notes, two prefix letters are at
the beginning of the serial number. The first letter represents the
series year date, and the second indicates the Federal Reserve
district for which the note was issued. Beginning with the Series 1996
$100 FRNs, released into circulation in 1996, a universal Federal
Reserve seal was introduced to replace the 12 individual seals.
There’s also another element with serial numbers that makes for a
fun collection. Check to see whether a star is in place of the letter
at the end of the serial number.
If so, your note is part of a sheet of replacement notes that are
used when a printing error or damage is discovered on a sheet during
inspection at the BEP.
Star notes are scarcer than normal notes because they are printed in
smaller quantities than regular notes. But keep your eyes open and you
can find them.
And for the really diligent collectors, you can look for “fancy”
“Fancy” serial numbers are rare and interesting arrangements of
serial numbers, such as notes with repeating digits or notes with low
serial numbers, 2 through 100. And just for fun, how about notes with
serial numbers like 01234567 or 98765432?
While these kinds of serial numbers will take persistence for the
collector to find them, they are out there.
More of Michele Orzano's feature is on the way! Check back with
CoinWorld.com for the latest, or better yet, let us tell you when a
new post is up: