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Coin Shops Good Place to Look
By Bill Brandimore, Bank Note Reporter
September 05, 2012

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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I received a nice email from reader Jim Regur in response to an earlier column of mine suggesting top 10 notes and various ways to collect “sets.”

Jim is putting together a set of all the various currency varieties for seal colors in large and small size. He is tailoring it to his personal preferences and enjoying the challenge. This hobby is all about fun, and I enjoy hearing about the different spins people put on their collecting adventures.

Speaking of adventures, have you ever stopped at a coin shop while on vacation and looked for notes? For one thing, you get to look at fresh material, and that is always enjoyable.

I usually introduce myself as a paper money collector and ask if they have any currency accumulations or junk boxes. The response I most enjoy is, “I really don’t have anything special.” Most coin dealers are still not tuned-in to paper money. This is especially true for world paper.

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Standard Catalog of United States Obsolete Bank Notes 4-CD Set

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The average dealer is pretty well schooled in U.S. coins and world coins, but paper money is another matter. If they haven’t invested a few hundred dollars in the right books, they really have no idea what they have in stock, except that they didn’t pay much for it, as what currency they do have was picked up in small collections they purchased and was almost an afterthought. World currency is on fire. Condition is always important, but Chinese notes, in particular, are very desirable right now.

British and French colonial notes are heavily collected and very much in style. Just take a look a current auction catalogs from major firms.

Lots of these notes are bringing good prices. This was very much in evidence at the Memphis International Paper Money Show in June.

Do your friends and associates know you collect currency? A lot of people keep their collecting habits private. I’m sure that this is instinctive behavior in a world where burglary or theft is always a possibility. I, however, prefer to let people know I’m a collector.

Years ago, a neighbor who knew I was a currency collector asked me to look at her father’s collection. He had recently entered a nursing home and was not able to continue collecting.

I was able to help them sell a number of items, and I purchased a wonderful Brown Back $5 for my own collection. It was a Grinnell note and came with a letter of provenance tracing it to the famous Grinnell sales of the 1940s.

Just today another neighbor asked me to take a look at the accumulation of a family member who had recently died. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find some value for them and even stumble on something I’d like for my own collection.

A nice side benefit of numismatic contacts are the referrals that flow when you educate people about the value of their holdings and purchase the notes at a fair price or assist these contacts in selling their holdings.

The nice thing about finding buried treasure, which is how I like to think of these experiences, is that the material is fresh. Most dealers will tell you that it is fairly easy to sell nice material. The hard part is finding it. So, if you can find fresh material in your own backyard, why not give it a try.

I also enjoy picking up tokens and weird numismatic items in these treasure hunts. A recent find was a 1949 aluminum token from the Detroit Bank. At the time it was the oldest bank in Detroit. I think it became the Detroit Bank and Trust later, before it became a merger object even later.

I helped the owner dispose of an accumulation of silver coins. She was happy to let me have the token for my help. The Indian brave on the token is really neat and was a real pleasure to uncover.

What tales do you have to tell? Email me at and look for me at the Ohio state show in Dublin, Ohio, over the Labor Day weekend.

More Coin Collecting Resources:

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

• Subscribe to our Coin Price Guide, buy Coin Books Coin Folders and join the NumisMaster VIP Program

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition

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