Paper Money

Search begins for ‘fancy’ numbers, star notes

John “TheRock” DeRocker, a collector who posts frequently on the online PCGS Currency Forum, posted images of two consecutive star Series 2009A $100 FRNs.

Images courtesy John DeRocker.

The Oct. 8 release of the Series 2009A $100 Federal Reserve notes has sent collectors scrambling to find notes with “fancy” serial numbers and “star” notes.

“Fancy” serial numbers are rare and interesting arrangements of serial numbers that can be found on U.S. paper money. Star notes are replacement notes. Both categories of notes are popular with collectors, and examples of each category can bring premiums in the marketplace.

On Oct. 12, William “Billy” Baeder became among the first to announce discovery of a note with a fancy serial number. He posted an image of a “repeater” Series 2009A $100 FRN with serial number LF09900990A on the U.S. & World Currency Forum at Collectors Universe,

A repeater note is one with a serial number that has a repeating sequence of numbers; on Baeder’s note, 0990 repeats.

The note Baeder posted was printed for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Baeder, who runs the Internet-based paper money firm, which his late father, Willy Baeder, founded, said his father started collecting these “fancy” serial numbered notes in the late 1960s.

Baeder said he has continued to hunt for these notes for his clients.

Another forum member, who goes by the forum ID of “cpolen,” posted an image of a note with a radar serial number, LL89788798A. The numerals in a radar serial number, like the letters in the word “radar,” read the same in both directions (for the note, 8978 8798). The note was printed for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Star notes

Collectors and dealers have also been finding star note versions of the new $100 notes.

On Oct. 9, John DeRocker, who uses the nickname “TheRock” on the currency forum, posted images of two star notes he found while searching a “brick” of Series 2009A $100 FRNs. A brick contains 4,000 notes.
He said one of the six banks where he “has contacts” who will let him know when they receive orders of new notes called him to let him know it had just received a shipment of the new $100 FRNs.

“They held the entire brick for me to look at,” before sending it through their counting machines, according to DeRocker. While searching the “brick” he found the two star notes.

Federal Reserve notes bearing a star instead of a suffix letter following the serial number are replacement notes. These notes are produced to replace defective notes discovered at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing during inspection.

Star notes are printed in smaller quantities than regular notes.

The serial numbers on the two star notes DeRocker found are LG06729164? and LG06729165?. The two consecutively numbered star notes were printed for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Another PCGS Currency Forum poster, who goes by the nickname “musky1011,” reported on Oct. 16 that he received a Series 2009A $100 FRN from an ATM in Milwaukee. While his note does not bear a “fancy” serial number (it has LG443994473A), his ATM find does illustrate that the new notes have entered commerce channels.

Online auctions

A number of the new notes, some being star notes and others being “normal” notes with nothing unusual about the serial number, were being offered in auctions on eBay in the days following their release.
In an auction closing Oct. 23, a note for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago with serial number LG04253808? realized a winning bid of $136.15. The seller described the note as being Crisp Uncirculated, with “nice margins & centering.”

The latter phrase refers to how well-centered the design elements are on the note.

In a sale closing Oct. 22, another star note for the Chicago bank, with serial number LG04917746?, sold for $145.10. The seller described the note as being Uncirculated with “Perfectly even borders.”

A star note for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with serial number LB03238328?, realized $168.50 in a sale closing Oct. 22. The seller described it as “very rare,” with a “low serial” number.

A pair of star notes for the New York Federal Reserve Bank with consecutive serial numbers (LB08055171? and LB08055172?) sold for $255 in an eBay auction that closed Oct. 20.

An early transaction (closing Oct. 13) for a star note brought a slightly higher price than those previously stated here, at $172.50. The price may have been buoyed by the “Low Serial Number” of LC00488461?.

The note started at $125 and six different bidders participated in the auction.

Various “normal” notes in completed auctions sold for such prices as $114.50 (Atlanta bank) and $226.99 (for a pair of Cleveland notes with consecutive serial numbers LD35258448A and LD35258449A).

Many of the completed eBay auctions for normal notes resulted in prices between $110 and $120. On Oct. 12 one sold for just $105.

Fancy numbers, Fed banks

In addition to the notes with “repeater” and “radar” serial numbers, “fancy” serial numbered notes fall into the following categories:

??Notes with serial number 00000001.

??Notes with low serial numbers, 2 through 100.

??Notes with solid serial numbers, such as 11111111, 22222222 and especially 99999999.

??Notes with serial numbers like 01234567 or 98765432, called full ladder notes.

Collectors can determine what Federal Reserve Bank a note was printed for by looking at the double prefix letters before the serial number. The first letter indicates the series year date and the second letter indicates the Federal Reserve Bank.

Double prefix letters in front of the serial number were introduced beginning in 1996 when the $100 FRN was first redesigned.

Previously, just one prefix letter, representing the FR bank, was used. The double prefix letters also appears on the redesigned $50, $20, $10, and $5 FRNs released since 1996.

The letter and number combination beneath the left serial number also identifies the issuing Federal

Reserve Bank with its corresponding letter and number. Each of the 12 Federal Reserve banks has a unique letter and corresponding number.

??The A1 letter-number combination is assigned to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

??B2 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

??C3 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

??D4 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

??E5 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

??F6 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

??G7 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

??H8 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

??I9 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

??J10 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City;

??K11 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

??L12 is for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

All Series 2009A $100 FRNs so far reported were printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The “FW” facility mark is located above the serial number in the upper left corner of the face of the note. ¦

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