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Old Paper Money Shows Up Posted by Dave
August 31, 2010


In these times of economic stress, older coins have been showing up in change in larger numbers than usual as people cash in their BU state quarter rolls, or stashes of change.

Readers write letters to point out their latest circulation discoveries, which are always welcome and interesting. There has been quite an uptick in these in recent months.

At the bank the other day I asked for five $20 bills. Yes, I was actually talking to a teller. Small towns are wonderful that way.

I received four of the Big Head type with color, but one note was one of the old-fashioned kind. It was kind of jarring to see it, as jarring as when I received the first of the Big Head notes when they were first introduced with the Series 1996.

I looked at the date. It was a Series 1977. It was not uncirculated. It had definitely seen its share of wear, but neither was the wear so much that it would be retired from circulation for that reason.

It easily could have been part of a private stash that many people keep for a surprise bill or emergency.

Because paper wears out quicker than coins, even in stressful times the number of older notes in circulation is not high. Usually the older notes that I do get are the $1 Federal Reserve Note, because that design has not changed.

The Small Head $20 note was the first one I had been given in years.

I probably won’t get another one, but then again, maybe I will.

Have you received an old-style note lately?

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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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