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Obsoletes Remain Hot in Tentative Market
By Bill Brandimore

The market continues on in a somewhat tentative manner. Good material sells at good, not great prices. Notes with problems don’t sell very well. Common material is listless. Large-size type seems healthy, although relatively available notes, such as Educational $5s, Indian chiefs and Buffalos, in 65 grades do not bring the amazing prices they were bringing a year ago.

If you wish to sell these notes, they bring good prices. They will not bring last year’s prices. If you bought them two or three years ago or longer, you can expect to take a profit, or at least get your money out of them.

That is one thing that isolates collectors from investors. Collectors hang onto their notes and generally enjoy a nice increase in the value of their holdings over time.

I remain bullish on Fractionals and Colonial issues. These notes do not occur in hoards very often, consequently they are relatively scarce. There are not enough of them around to promote like Morgan dollars or commemorative half dollars. What always amazes me is that there are rare pieces, 10 to 20 known, for example, that can be had for less than $5,000. Try that in large-size type.

Small-size type trades within reasonable ranges of their prices of a year ago. Knowledgeable collectors will still pay top dollar for rare star 1928 Red Seal $2s or 1933 $10 Silver Certificates.

What I find amusing is that cancelled $2 1976 Green Seals with commemorative stamps affixed are now selling for $3 to $5 dollars. I never thought they would exceed the $1.99 I saw one dealer was offering them at a few years ago.

Obsoletes are hot, especially of the scarcity found in part one of the Krause Wisconsin collection offered at Philadelphia last month. These can be somewhat like Nationals in that collectors enjoy the hometown nature of many of these notes. These notes frequently provide excellent quality and interesting vignettes.

$1,000 and $500 bills are soft, although the $5,000 and $10,000 notes continue to attract wonder prices at auction when offered.

Last month I mentioned that world currency was becoming a hot item. I would suggest to you that there is a lot to learn about world currency, and it is a lot of fun. For one thing, there are a great number of really attractive notes that can be had at the one dollar level. There are cherrypicking opportunities galore and an amazing number of collecting methods.

I am currently working on finding as many different portraits of Queen Elizabeth II as I can. Given the scope of world influence the British Empire commanded, it’s not surprising to note the wide variety of material that is available. Some are cheap, some are not.

Crowned in 1953, we also see a number of different postures, such as the queen as a young woman, as a mature woman, and as an aging monarch. She appears on numerous African, Asian and even Caribbean notes. In some, the Crown Jewels are in evidence. In all, the quality of engraving is top notch.

Topical collecting, something that always appealed to philatelists, is an easy option, as well, in world currency. You can collect fish, butterflies, birds, scenery, etc. Canada offers us glimpses of her mountains and plains, seacoast and industrialization.

Africa offers elephants and lions, rhinos and antelope. You get to learn a lot about geography. You can bond with your children in pursuing this sort of knowledge. Colonial African and Asian notes are particularly sought after.

World collectors are also pickier in their grading. An Extremely Fine note compares with U.S. notes in the About Uncirculated grades. Look for notes that are clean and in at least Very Fine.

Have you ever exhibited your notes at a show? If you haven’t, you’re missing a rare treat. Considerable competition is afoot at American Numismatic Association shows as well the Florida United Numismatists and Central States Numismatic Society shows. Typically you have to be a member to exhibit. The Michigan State Numismatic Society’s show offers strong competition in the Midwest. Other state and regional shows do the same.

You might be surprised at the prices that are in order for first, second and third places. CSNS offers a one-ounce gold coin for best in show and smaller gold coins as individual category prizes. FUN offers various collector coins. I earned a 1941-S half dollar in MS-64 as a third-place prize in U.S. coins this past January.

Exhibiters are especially proud of their collections. They enjoy looking at other collectors’ holdings and are frequently great sources of additional information on numismatics in general.

One of the ANA Summer Seminar offerings is a how-to class on preparing an exhibit. A good way to get into this field is to put an exhibit together for your local club show. Perhaps you can get other members to compete.

It spices up a show when there is show-and-tell information. For that matter, it spices up a club meeting.

I’ll never forget my experiences with the Grosse Pointe Numismatic Society when I still lived in Detroit. I remember the late George Hatie bringing his autograph collection to the club meeting at his turn to “exhibit.” We got to examine the signatures of all but one of the U.S. presidents, Napoleon, Henry VIII, and on and on. What a joy those meetings were. Programs promote strong collectors.

Now for more on “sleepers.” Keep an eye out for the tougher blocks of Web Press $1 Federal Reserve Notes. The more common blocks are fairly inexpensive, especially in circulated condition. The famous 1988A Series F*, however, and other tough blocks are worth looking for.

The scarcity of some of the face and back plate configurations is also something to look for. One example is the 1988A Series AF block with a No. l face plate and a No. 2 back plate from run No. 1. A run consists of 200,000 sheets or 6,400,000 notes. For more information consult The Standard Handbook of $1 Web-Fed Test Notes by Bob Kvederas Jr. and Sr.

You should start thinking now about attending a big show in the future. FUN is coming up in January, and MSNS’s Thanksgiving show is getting closer. Hopefully, these autumn and winter shows will rev up interest and we’ll see upward price activity.


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