The following is Wendell Wolka's Collecting Paper column from the
Sept. 28, 2015, issue of Coin World:
Last month we discussed the first set of building blocks needed in
an effort to build a good knowledge base before collecting obsolete paper money.
I recommended that, depending on the states you might be interested
in, you would probably benefit from some combination of Society of
Paper Money state catalogs, the new Whitman obsolete catalogs, and one
or more of the four volumes of The Standard Catalog of United
States Obsolete Bank Notes 1782–1866.
But what if you’re not collecting by state?
Let’s say you’re collecting topically, like only notes with
locomotives or steamboats or Indians. Well, a number of specialty
volumes complement the basic state catalogs.
Connect with Coin World:
Roger Durand has written a number of books on portraits, vignettes,
and the like used on obsolete notes. Although all are now out of
print, they are available on venues like Amazon and eBay. Catalogs on
more esoteric types of notes are also available — for example, a book
covering notes used by business colleges and one covering advertising
notes are available from numismatic book sellers. If you have other
interests, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to let you know
If your interests are in the area of research, I have found the
following three online services invaluable — Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, and Newspapers.com.
These three services allow you to research a wide variety of census
and other records as well as newspapers of the period. Team these up
with search engines like Google or Bing and you have a pretty powerful
research tool belt at your disposal.
Also don’t overlook other period documents in your state and local
libraries, like city directories, state agency documents and even
banking department reports and documents. These will allow you to fill
in a lot of blanks.
Even auction company websites are good research tools. For example,
Heritage Auctions’ website, www.ha.com, has an excellent auction
archives section with nearly 70,000 obsolete notes and scrip notes
presently listed. Other auction firms similarly have archive sections
on their websites.
Finally, don’t underestimate networking with others who have similar
interests. I would recommend membership in the Society of Paper Money
Collectors as a way of both networking and garnering new information.
If any of my readers have other thoughts on this subject, just send
me an email and I will share the ideas with everyone.
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