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Eliminating Banknote Duplicates -

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When you have two or three of apparently the same piece of world paper money, how do you eliminate the duplicates and decide which one to keep? A quick glance isn't enough to determine whether or not you have a duplicate.
   
    •    Condition --- Of course, given that everything is identical, always keep the banknote that is nicest in condition. Try to keep uncirculated notes whenever possible and circulated notes when others aren't easily available. Familiarize yourself with the IBNS Grading Standards to help determine condition of a note.

    •    Dates --- Always check the years (months and days too if applicable) to make sure they are actually the same. Some notes may have a 30 year difference in print dates but look identical except for that (on closer inspection you'll probably see different signatures and maybe even slightly different colors used as well.)

    •    Portraits --- Look closely at portraits. Some banknotes look identical except that the portrait on one may depict a younger or older person. Sometimes one will be wearing slightly different garb or have on slightly different different head gear.

    •    Serial Numbers --- If you have identical notes, do you look at the serial numbers to see if one is more interesting than the others? You probably should. Since you have some identical notes, wouldn't you rather keep the one with a more interesting serial number? Given identical notes I'd certainly rather keep the one with a 65433456 serial number rather than a 36284268!

    •    Water Marks --- On occassion you will find notes that look identical but have different water marks! Check to see that if the watermark is a portrait, are both portrait watermarks are the same? Sometimes one note may not even have a watermark while the other does. The notes may or may not have the same signatures in a case like this.

    •    Color Differences --- Slight differences in colors can tip you off that the notes may be of different years, with identical graphics but slightly different colors. If you do have identical notes, it's best to keep the one with more brilliant colors.

    •    Different Series --- Frequently you will find two identical notes that only have a different series number or letter. Determine for yourself how important this is to you. I don't really care myself but keep in mind that some notes, like those of the West African States, are only distinguished for use in different countries by the series letter. So you will need to collect the identical banknotes with different series letters if you want to collect from all of the participating nations in the West African States

    •    Different Signatures --- On some occassions, you will find identical notes that are printed in the same year but have different signatures on them. Determine for yourself if this is important to your collection or not. I didn't used to care about signatures but now I enjoy keeping notes that look identical but have different signatures. It's bound to stump people looking at your collection: "These ones are the same, why do you have two?" Let the hunt begin!

    •    Overprints --- These differences are usually pretty easy to spot. Found frequently on inflationary notes and reissues they are usually stamped or printed in either a bold color (red) or in obvious places. It's always fun to have examples of the original note and the overprints displayed side by side. One set of notes I was comparing to eliminate duplicates didn't quite strike me right on cursory inspection. When I took a moment to look closely, I saw that the two notes were identical except one had and extra ",000" on the end of the denomination printed in the same brown ink color as the original numbering and it also had a couple extra letters on the end of the denomination name making it a new denomination.

    •    Paper Types --- If you have identical notes, you may want to look at the paper. Does one have more imbedded threads than the other? Keep the one that looks most interesting.

    •    Metallic Threads --- Are the metallic threads the same on your duplicates? Are they located in the same area of the note? I have one example of two identical notes where the only difference is a different weaving pattern of the metallic thread through the paper.

    •    Margins --- Some people will also check the margins of a note (the white space around the outside) to make sure that the note was cut evenly and the margin is a nice even width all the way around. Other people look for offset margins that might indicate some type of printing error.

    •    Look Closely--- Eliminating duplicates is, in my opinion, one of the most enjoyable parts of cataloging a collection. Make sure you take your time, concentrate, and above all have a great time. Attention to all these little details will eventually start to set your collection apart from the person who just uses a quick glance to eliminate their duplicates.
   
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