Collector of paper money with 50 years of experience offers advice to those new to the hobby

Longtime collector Wendell Wolka has broad collecting interests
By , Coin World
Published : 05/22/14
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Someone with 50 years of collecting experience is someone most collectors would enjoy meeting. Well-known writer, researcher and speaker Wendell Wolka has been collecting paper for more than 50 years. And what specific paper notes does he collect? The better question might be what he has yet to collect.

To name just a few of his past paper money interests: Indiana national bank notes; French and French colonial notes; and Canadian chartered bank notes.

Wolka says he actively collects large denomination, high-tech and generally “pretty” world bank notes made of polymer; modern issues of the Bank of Canada; alterations and other spurious obsolete notes (particularly with ties to Indiana); New Orleans 1861 to 1862 scrip notes; “trophy” obsolete notes from Ohio, Indiana and Illinois; and specific notes issued by the Confederate States of America.

He recently consigned his collection of Ohio obsolete notes to Heritage Auctions to be sold over the next few months. Most of Wolka’s Ohio collection was sold at the Central States Numismatic Society — either at the Heritage floor auction April 23 or Heritage’s online auction on April 28 — realized $370,424.62, which includes the buyer’s fee.

A smaller selection will be presented in the Long Beach Auction later this summer, and a few of the more-common notes that inhabit every collection will be offered in a number of weekly auctions by Heritage during the summer, according to Wolka.

Here’s part of his account of the CSNS sale.

CW: You chose not to be physically present when the auction took place but you did peek at the action few times on the Live Heritage website. What was that like to watch?

WW: “It was pretty wild. I could only take so much and then had to take a break. Remember, I die watching Purdue basketball on TV [Wolka is a Purdue alumnus], so this reaction was nothing new to Linda [Wolka’s wife]. I kind of ‘willed’ the numbers to go up on each lot and just as easily became convinced that nothing else would sell when there was the occasional lot that did not attract attention.”

CW: Where there any surprises in what a note sold for or didn’t sell for in the sale?

WW: “I was pleased that the $50 State Bank of Ohio note did so well; it’s always been a favorite. The Bank of the United States Cincinnati branch note and the Johnson Island POW camp sutler note also attracted a lot of attention that I felt they merited. Overall things went very well and I was pleased with the results.”

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