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World Paper Money Frequently Asked Questions -

Due to the large volume of e-mail questions coming to me, I can't answer them all and I can't answer any emails asking for valuations. I hope this FAQs page will help you get answers to your most frequently asked questions about collecting banknotes.

How much is my United States paper money worth?
Unfortunately I don't know the answer to your question (I don't collect U.S. currency). Check with a reputable dealer.

How much is my United States ERROR currency worth?
Unfortunately I don't know the answer to your question but I can recommend the book United States Paper Money Errors: A Comprehensive Catalog & Price Guide.

How much is a 1920's German tens of thousands or millions of Marks note worth (Reichsbanknote)?
As a general reference, according to the Sixth edition of "The Standard Catalog of World Paper Money", the German 100,000 Mark note from 1923 is worth between 15 cents to $1. Interestingly enough, inflation was so high in Germany at this time that in 1923 there was even a 100 trillion Mark issued. Many of the German notes from this era were printed in very high quantities so mostof them aren't worth much today. I have several in my collection of varying denominations that I bought for less than $.50 each. Please check with a dealer on my links list who is up on current prices for a better answer.

I have a Japanese Dollar, Peso, Rupee, Gulden, etc. What is it and how much is it worth?
These are JIMs, Japanese Invasion Money. They are from WWII, printed by Japan for areas they occupied during the war. Most of them are very common and not worth much.

How can I sell a banknote or collection that I have?
I think the easiest and best way is on an auction site such as eBay. You can sell your item(s) direct to the consumer. This should work well for the more common notes, however, I would recommend you consult a qualified dealer if you suspect you have any rare or unusual notes.

How much is my (insert any description here) banknote worth?
The short answer is "I don't know". I'm an avid amateur collector of 30+ years. But, I'm not a paper money dealer. I do offer some interesting, colorful and beautiful banknotes for sale as a service to other collectors. But I don't buy collections or pieces from private parties so I don't know going rates, prices, values, or anything along those lines.

What determines the value of a banknote to a collector?
There are basically two things that determine value - condition of the piece of money and rarity. The more rare the paper money is (the less pieces there are in the world), and the better the condition, the more it is worth. Condition can range from a 'rag' to new, crisp, uncirculated. More common types of currency that people collect isn't worth much at all unless it is in new, crisp, uncirculated condition. Rare paper money can be extremely valuable even if it is in terrible condition. There is also the bottom line that any banknote is worth whatever a collector will pay for it as a fair market value.

Why do some banknotes look fake or like color copies?
A country at war, under embargo, etc will not have the quality of paper and printing available as they would under other circumstances. A good example is currency from Iraq during the Gulf War. You can literally make a better looking piece of paper money by scanning one and printing it from a color laser printer. Imagine if you are a government trying to mint money during an invasion. The quality of paper, printing and design is going to be a very low priority and thus result in legitimate, genuine banknotes that don't even look real.

How can I collect or find counterfeit paper money?
As far as I know counterfeit money is illegal in every country on earth. Finding and collecting counterfeit money can be a punishable offense. For example in the USA, citizens are required to surrender any suspected counterfeit money to a bank and my not even be reimbursed for it's face value. Because every government actively tries to deter counterfeiters, counterfeit money is much, much more rare than genuine banknotes and as such is generally more valuable or costly than face value. I don't recommend collecting counterfeit money.

Where can I see pictures of banknotes on the internet?
Ron Wise's World Paper Money Home Page has the largest collection of currency images on the internet. I don't put many images on my site because Ron Wise has already put together the best collection out there. Incredible depth of 4,000+ full color images totaling over 160MB! Visit Ron's massive image collection at banknoteworld.com.

Who is on the United States $500, $1,000, etc?
$1---George Washington, $2---Thomas Jefferson, $5---Abraham Lincoln, $10---Alexander Hamilton, $20---Andrew Jackson, $50---Ulysses 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.

How do I get high denomination US Banknotes over $100 for my collection?
These are extremely rare as they were discontinued by the US Government in 1969. They are worth considerably more than face value and all known examples are in collections. Check with a reputable dealer to see if they can source one for you.

What is the highest denomination banknote every printed?
The 2008 Zimbabwe 100 Trillion note has the highest face value printed on a generally circulating, authentic piece of paper money. During their period of hyper-inflation, some estimates say that prices were doubling every several hours! When the 100 Trillion note was issued, it was worth a bit over $22 US. Several weeks later, it was worth a fraction of a penny so the government of Zimbabwe completely discontinued issuing their own currency.

What is the IBNS?
The International Bank Note Society was formed in 1961 and was one of the first clubs for collectors of paper money. The IBNS focuses on collectors of world paper banknotes. One of the best benefits of joining the IBNS is that it currently has over 2,200 members in well over 100 countries worldwide. Many countries have local chapters as well as regional chapters in countries such as the U.S. or England. As a member you are provided with a list of IBNS members, their addresses (if they wish) as well as their collecting specialties on an annual basis and you are encouraged to contact any of them. Click for the website of the International Bank Note Society.

What is a Pick Number, or a Number That Looks Like "P117b"?
In the international banknote collecting hobby, you'll often hear people refer to a "Pick Number" and you'll see numbers starting with a P listed next to currencies. The Pick Number refers to numbers used by Albert Pick in 1975 when he published the first copy of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. This is the most important book to have in your collection. The Pick number was devised by Mr Pick to make identification of exact banknotes easier. The lower the number, the older the banknote. As new banknotes are released, a Pick number will be assigned by the publisher of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. If you see Pnew ... that refers to a new issue that didn't have a Pick number yet.

What is a NotGeld or Assignat (Emergency Currency)?
During periods of political stress, such as during wars, sometimes central banks are unable to issue enough currency to satisfy demand ... especially during hyper-inflation. Sometimes they literally can't print and distribute money fast enough to keep up with inflation. NotGeld were literally "Not Geld" when Geld were the official currencies - but were emergency currencies issued by towns, banks or businesses in small denominations primarily in Austria and Germany because they couldn't get coins to make change. Another example of emergency currency is the Italian Assignats.

What are "Short Snorters"?
These are banknotes that were signed by parties present during a significant event as a souvenir. For example if you had 10 people on their first flight ever, they might all pull out a banknote and pass it around so everyone could sign it and sometimes date it or write some other message. Generally these are always on American banknotes from the 1920's to 1940's and normally always associated with an airplane flight.

What is "Geurrilla Money" or Emergency Circulating Currency?
This normally refers to money issued by the exiled government of the Philippines that was putting up resistance to the World War II Japanese invasion and occupation of the Philippines. The peso banknotes often look cartoonish or amateurish but were literally issued by geurrilla units as an underground and illegal currency system. Because the resistance to the Japanese was supported by the United States, some of this money had drawings of President Roosevelt or General MacArthur on it.

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    Copyright 1997- Cael Chappell, IBNS member #7882.