Paper Money

IPMS attendees celebrate in Memphis

A Memphis, Tenn., institution now in its 35th year, the 2011 International Paper Money Show June 10 to 12 didn’t disappoint.

It had a full roster of attendees who were not at all intimidated by the tragic flooding of the prior month.

It is a good thing, too, since what was offered at the show has no parallel among paper money enthusiasts. While the 165 dealer booths on the bourse floor make this the largest assembly of paper money dealers in America, there was far more to it than the bourse floor.

The show offered collectors a broad range of presentations and forums. In addition, the Society of Paper Money Collectors and the International Bank Note Society celebrated each others’ 50th anniversary with festivities.

The official Lyn Knight auction was held in four sessions, from June 9 to 12, and comprised nearly 3,000 individual lots, split evenly into the United States and world categories. Last month we discussed some of the exceptional notes offered in a small part of the sale known as the “Diamond Bar Collection” of U.S. large-size type notes. While these presented an extraordinary opportunity for some very serious and well-heeled collectors, they made up only 7 percent of the lots for sale. The remaining 93 percent of the lots show why paper money is a pursuit for everyone who wants to give it a try.

The U.S. section was typical of a large auction in which collectors could choose from a number of categories, among them Colonial and Continental currency; federally issued and Confederate States of America notes from the Civil War era; obsolete currency; error notes; large- and small-size type notes; and more than 500 large- and small-size national bank notes from 47 different states.

The Knight auction offered a fairly comprehensive selection by type of most commonly collected issues in the large- and small-size categories.

Especially interesting was the dispersion throughout the auction of a number of issues with what the trade calls “fancy numbers,” i.e. either very low serial numbers or serial numbers in interesting combinations.

In another category, a $1,000 Federal Reserve note printed for the New York Federal Reserve Bank (F-1133), with a portrait of Thomas Jefferson on the face and a bold American eagle vignette on the back, sold for $23,000.

The note graded Very Fine 25 by Paper Money Guaranty and features the facsimile signatures of U.S. Treasury Secretary Carter Glass and U.S. Treasurer John Burke, along with even margins and decent color.

According to the auction catalog description the note “is sharp and evenly circulated” with “only 28 serial numbers recorded but only eight, [in] possibly higher grade, are showing up.”

Another intriguing note demonstrates how paper money collecting can transcend the hobby and appeal to those individuals who may otherwise ignore it.

An evenly circulated Series 1988A $1 Federal Reserve note (F-1915-G) in Very Fine condition sold for $550.

Why? Because it has emblazoned across its face, in bright blue ink, difficult to miss, the autograph of the legendary New York Yankee icon, Mickey Mantle. ¦

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