Ron's Paper Money FAQ

What is my note worth? (German)
What is my note worth? (US)
What exceptions might make my note more valuable?
What is a STAR Note?
What is an ERROR note?
What is considered an Interesting Serial Number?
Who are the people depicted on US small size notes?
Why does my note have HAWAII printed on it?
Why does my Silver Certificate have a yellow seal?
What is a Short Snorter? Or, I have a 1935 series Silver Certificate with several signatures on it.

Q: What is my note worth? (German)
A: If your note is one like those in my online German currency collection, then you are not rich. Most of these notes can be purchased for 50 to $6.00 with most around $1.00. This was an era of hyperinflation in Germany. Millions of these notes were printed and lost value overnight, so, many remain and are readily available to collectors. Great for the collector, but disappointing to the person finding this note in Grandpa's old papers.

Q: What is my note worth? (US)
A: If your note is in the list below, it is worth very little over face value in circulated condition. The same notes are quite collectable in uncirculated condition with no folds or bends of any kind. There are a few differences between some of these notes and the currently issued notes. For example, the missing "IN GOD WE TRUST". The values listed below are approximate retail values. A dealer purchasing your note would offer 20%-40% off of, the retail price minus the face value. See EXCEPTIONS.

Denomination/Type Series Circulated Uncirculated
$1 Silver Certificate 1935A-1935H, 1957-1957B $1.25 $2.50-$6.00
$2 United States Note 1953-1953C, 1963-1963A $2.40 $5.00-$10.00
$2 Federal Reserve Note 1976 $2.00 $2.50
$5 Silver Certificate 1953-1953B $6.50 $9.00-$15.00
$5 United States Note 1928B, C, E, F $6.50 $12.00-$20.00
$5 United States Note 1953-1953C, 1963 $6.50 $9.00-$15.00
$5 Federal Reserve Note 1934-1934D, 1950-1950E $5.00-$8.00 $10.00-$18.00
$10 Federal Reserve Note 1934-1934D, 1950-1950E $10.00-$14.00 $16.00-$35.00
$20 Federal Reserve Note 1934-1934D, 1950-1950E $20.00-$25.00 $28.00-$45.00
$500 Legal Tender Note 1862
$233,750.00 *
* New price record set at the Fall 1997 CAA auction.

Q: What exceptions might make my note more valuable?
A: Star notes, Error notes, and notes with interesting serial numbers are always highly collectable and may increase the value of the note.

Q: What is a STAR Note?
A: A STAR Note is a note with a STAR (*) in the prefix or suffix position of the serial number. These notes are typically used to replace a note damaged during the printing process to maintain the correct count of notes in a serial number run. Packs of STAR notes are sometimes released when the supply is greater than what's needed. Since STAR notes are much more uncommon, they are prized by collectors.

Q: What is an ERROR note?
A: From The US Error Note Encyclopedia: "A Currency Error is any note that does not meet the minimum quality standards of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing but still somehow manages to escape being pulled during the many human and mechanical inspections." These errors include; cutting errors, folds and tears, inking errors, missing prints, etc. Check your notes and look for anything that's different. For more information on errors, see: The US Error Note Encyclopedia

Q: What is considered an Interesting Serial Number?
A: Some examples of collectable serial numbers are; low numbers (A00000035A), radar notes which are the same forwards and backwards (A12344321A), 6-8 same digits (A33333333A, A16444444A), special numbers (A00001776A, A19970000A), etc. Basically, any strange or interesting serial number combination is probably collectable and worth more.

Q: Who are the people depicted on US small size notes?
A: Starting with series 1928, all denominations of US issued notes were reduced in size to what we see today and most of the major design elements have remained the same since they were first introduced. The following table lists the people depicted on the different denominations. Denominations larger than $100 have not been issued since series 1934.

Denomination Vignette
$1 George Washington
$2 Thomas Jefferson
$5 Abraham Lincoln
$10 Alexander Hamilton
$20 Andrew Jackson
$50 U.S. Grant
$100 Benjamin Franklin
$500 William McKinley
$1,000 Grover Cleveland
$5,000 James Madison
$10,000 Salmon P. Chase
$100,000 Woodrow Wilson

Q: Why does my note have HAWAII printed on it?
A: During the early part of WWII, the US had fears that Japan would overrun Hawaii. If this occurred, large sums of currency could be captured and used to fund their war effort. So, the US decided to issue the same $1 Silver Certificates, $5, $10 and $20 Federal Reserve Notes as used on the mainland, but with a brown seal and serial numbers and overprinted with the word "HAWAII" twice on the front and in large block letters on the back. Because these notes were distinctive, it would make it easy for the US to demonitize the notes if large amounts fell to the enemy. Later in the war, these notes were used in the US held Pacific Islands for the same reasons.

Q: Why does my Silver Certificate have a yellow seal?
A: During WWII, the US had troops all over the world. Since the local economies were in ruins and a soldier might be in England one day and North Africa the next, the only way to pay a soldier would be in US dollars. The problem was that large sums of cash could be captured by the enemy and used to supply their troops. The solution in the North African theater was to issue $1, $5 and $10 Silver Certificates with a yellow seal instead of the familiar blue seal. As with the HAWAII notes, they would be distinctive enough to easily demonitized if required.

Q: What is a Short Snorter? Or, I have a 1935 series Silver Certificate with several signatures on it.
A: The following is what I've pieced together from several conversations. Typically, during WWII, servicemen out for a drink would have their buddies sign each others notes. At a later date, when they got together, if the other guy didn't have his note, or whoever had the note with the least amount of signatures had to buy the next round of drinks.

© Copyright 2001 Ron Pfiester. All rights reserved.
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