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King Size Prices
June 17, 2008

There is an old phrase used when something is very valuable, "It's worth a king's ransom." But what is a ransom worth?

We have an idea now that Heritage has sold some of the $20 Federal Reserve Notes that were used to pay off skyjacker D.B. Cooper, who jumped out of a passenger jet Nov. 24, 1971, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

Cooper was never found, but some of the ransom money he was paid was. It turned up in 1980 on the banks of the Columbia River near Vancouver, Wash. It was found by Brian Ingram, who was eight years old at the time.

Fifteen Series 1969 $20 Federal Reserve Notes that no collector would even look at in less than uncirculated grade realized $37,433 combined in a Heritage Auction Galleries Americana memorabilia auction June 13. Though they were certified by PCGS Currency, they were in tatters. Prices include a 19,5 percent buyer's fee.

Ingram still has 70 more of these notes, so at that rate they would be worth almost another $175,000, which is interesting, because the full ransom at the time of the hijacking was $200,000.

Obviously, in light of the high prices, none of the current buyers would like to see the rest of the ransom turn up - as historically interesting as such a possibility would be.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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