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World Notes and Fractionals on Fire
By Bill Brandimore, Bank Note Reporter
May 07, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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The new Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues, catalog is just out. Prices in it have soared. China has cooled just a bit, but it still shows strong prices. India is red hot. The new edition shows uncirculated prices up and a generally robust market. This area has seemed to come into its own over the past few years.

Strong world note auction content offered in sales by Heritage and Lyn Knight seems to have fanned the flames over the past few years. We have seen wonderful notes in auctions of the Philippines, Costa Rica and South America in general, as well as French Africa and the British Commonwealth.

I have noted in my pursuit of Queen Elizabeth II notes that early issues and high denomination notes seem to offer the best return on investment.

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Action at the Lyn Knight Chicago Paper Money Expo auction seemed strong and error notes were particularly so. I’m just back from the relatively small bourse at the Military Payment Certificate Fest in Ohio, but there, too, there seemed to be great interest in world paper money in general and World War II items in particular. This area of currency collecting offers the enthusiast great variety in engraving scenes, color and new technology. It also offers a wide range of pricing suitable to advanced specialists and beginners alike.

I am currently enjoying working on a small type set of Philippines Victory issues, which are colorful and well done by our own U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This series is affordable – to a point – and interesting, as well.

Small-size type notes seem mixed, as I saw some real bargains in some of the Series 1928 $5, $10 and $20 Federal Reserve Notes in recent auctions. Do your research and look for bargains in auctions for this material.

Large-size type continues regaining losses suffered in the recession and remains highly popular. This seems to go across the spectrum of large size, but with surprisingly weak prices for circulated Buffalo and Indian chief notes.

Nationals seem to vary from state to state, depending on the level of competition present at any given time.

Fractional Currency collectors, who shunned third-party grading for quite some time, are now noticing the increasing interest in super graded notes at the 66 through 68 grade level as some really stunning prices are being recorded. In the last Fractional Currency Collectors Board newsletter there was considerable interest in the prices at the FUN convention for such common notes as the KL3226/F1232, a Second Issue five-cent note that we show at $100 in uncirculated in our price guide, which brought $1,292.50 in PCGS Gem New 67 PPQ. Clearly collectors are taking note of how rare some notes are in ultra grades. FCCB President Rob Kravitz noted the need for new members in this club. If you’re interested in information on the FCCB, email me for particulars.

Another encouraging sign at CPMX was the presence of more collectors in the under 50 age range. It seems that world paper currency is attracting new collectors in greater numbers than we have seen in the past 10 years or so in the more traditional areas of American currency collecting. These folks are, of course, candidates to cross over to large- and small-size, or National Bank Notes as they are exposed to these items.

As always, send your emails to me at

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