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Golden Opportunity Might be in Paper Money
April 01, 2010

What will the unveiling of the new U.S. $100 bill April 21 mean for the numismatic hobby? Will it mean anything?

The denomination was the first of the “Big Head” notes and after it arrived in 1996, there was a spate of stories about the lack of need for a change in design and how it looked like Monopoly money.

I remember running a story that showed the $100 with a Monopoly version and asked where the similarity was.

Nowadays, 14 years later, the basic idea that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing needs to stay ahead of the counterfeiters, both the casual color copier fakers and the North Korean super note fakers, is not questioned.

In consequence, we’ve seen designs changed for everything but the $1 and $2 since 1996.

For the hobby, changing the designs of the circulating paper money sparked a surge of interest in the older notes. Collectors multiplied. They bid up prices for paper money and this corner of the hobby boomed.

We’ve come down off the 2008 highs and perhaps this next change to the $100 will mark the next wave of changes for all denominations and the next wave of growth for paper money collecting.

If that in fact happens, collectors will look back on 2010 as a time they should have been aggressively buying collectible paper money.

What comes after the Big Head $100 might just be opportunity.

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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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