A characteristic of nearly every auction of U.S. paper money is that
while the bulk of the promotional emphasis is on large-size notes,
these rarely form the bulk of the sale’s contents.
They are regularly outnumbered by the total number of small-size
notes, fractional notes, national bank notes, Colonial issues,
Confederate notes, military payment certificates and obsolete notes.
When we talk of the state of the market we nearly always concentrate
on large-size notes as an all-encompassing barometer.
With United States paper currency, large-size notes still draw the
most attention. These notes are well-documented, diverse in appearance
yet somewhat uniformly attractive (especially compared to the paper
money of today), and are the subject of interest to a vast market of
buyers and sellers.
While the lack of attractiveness of small-size notes may have an
effect on the market, in many other respects the small-size notes
surpass large-size currency.
Small-size notes are far more readily available at low price points,
most of which have been stable. Many small-size Federal Reserve notes
can even be acquired from circulation at face value.
More collectors seek small-size notes than large-size notes, and the
ways of collecting the small-size notes can be surprising if not
mystifying to noncollectors. In no surprise to collectors, though, the
methods of collecting small-size notes parallel those of collecting
large-size notes, for example by seal, i.e. red (United States notes)
or blue (silver certificates), and so on.
Fractional notes continue to have a small and stable market, except
for the greatest rarities, which provoke feverish and unpredictable
bidding. Otherwise prices have been mostly unchanged.
National bank notes (issued in both large- and small-size forms)
often constitute the biggest part of an auction. With the exception of
very rare “trophy” notes, prices are dependent on the existence of a
strong collector base. Sometimes, even if a national bank note is
rare, the supply is greater than the demand in the market.
Among the biggest winners of late are those who began buying
obsolete currency, also known as “broken bank notes,” years ago, and
who are now sellers. Thanks to the entry of new collectors who are
attracted by low prices relative to rarity, interest and results have
skyrocketed far out of proportion to what should be expected.
Keep reading about paper money:
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