Paper Money Collectors

Fascinating is a great adjective for paper money collectors. This word describes all the aspects inherent in the lucrative hobby for anyone interested. Collecting paper money will take the collector down the road of history, world travel, significant time periods, and the particulars of collecting logistics. This pastime will yield many years of interesting study as well as provide a tangible investment decades from now.

The reasons people begin collecting rare paper money are many, but most start out discovering the many printing errors on the bills. The mint tries to catch all of these errors prior to the currency being sent out into circulation, but thousands get past the inspectors. For example, money collectors may note that the front of the bill is printed correctly, but the back of the bill has portions of two bills printed on the back. There may have been folds in the paper when the money was printed, and therefore cause a break in the ink when taking the fold out of the bill. Printing may be ghosted from the printing plate onto an already printed bill, causing a double print. There are many variations of this to watch for, and these types of bill could become quite valuable in the coming years. For the most part, these types of bills are noticed quickly and taken out of circulation by collectors.

Some who enjoy collecting rare paper money focus on certain periods of time, such as the civil war, or bills printed before that time. The artwork may fascinate the collector, and therefore effort may be made to discover who did the artwork for the bill. Old bills are testaments of who held high offices in the country of interest, and show the many designs that have occurred throughout the decades. Treasury symbols have been placed at many positions on the American dollars over the years, serial numbers sometimes are printed upside down or backwards, and sometimes not at all! A very obvious error is when the ink becomes smeared on the bills, obscuring the design on parts of the bill. These types of errors can be found on bills of any age.

Many young collectors have started collecting rare paper money by gathering bills from each country in the world. Others are more interested in the sequences of serial numbers and so focus on that aspect of collecting. There are paper money collectors who find currency with denominations less than one dollar, which are called fractional currency. Still other people enjoy collecting paper currency of various sizes. Readers may be interested to know that today's modern dollars are the smallest they have ever been. What ever the reason for collecting, each reason yields an array of interesting specimens worthy of any collection. Currency collecting takes a great deal of study, which is a worthy undertaking. "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth"(2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

So how does a collector rate or grade the money in the collection? All one need do is refer to a good reference manual which describes how to go about the grading process. There are several grades running from poor, which is the worst, up to what is referred to as crisp or uncirculated. The very best rating of crisp, means there is absolutely nothing wrong with the bill, no signs of wear, tear, folds, etc. There is no discoloration at all and the features are clear. The specimen doesn't get any better than that. Grading a bill improperly, even slightly could cause the value to be reduced by a great deal. So it is worth it to the collection investor to ensure the grading is done correctly.

The manner in which currency is stored is very important. Since the currency is paper, the bills are subject to the oils and moisture from the hands of those who touch them. These substances can destroy the article and ruin its value. Therefore, special plastic holders or envelopes should be obtained to seal it away from harm. There is also special paper that should be used for the same reason. These items will be especially important for collecting rare paper money. Coin or currency hobby stores should be able to supply the collector with these types of supplies for a small amount of money.

Most paper money collectors will need to have on hand some good reference books on currency collecting. These books are very important because they provide the current values of paper money in the market today. Also, these books have detailed photographs of almost every type of bill being collected, so that the collector can compare specimens against the pictures, to be sure of its authenticity. Therefore, it is critical that these reference books are accurate and reliable, otherwise there would be no sure way to tell what value the currency has or even if the bill is not forged. Unless the person has been collecting for many years and can rely on experience, these books are invaluable as reference tools for most collectors. There are many books available out there for collectors, but only about 11 are very reliable. Check around in collectors shops for advice on which references would be the best to purchase.

There are collector magazines for paper money collectors available in book stores that are very informative for the novice as well as the experienced collector to stay abreast of all the updates in the field of numismatics. Also available in these publications are lists of dealers whom the collector can get in touch with to make sales to get some advice. This hobby is extremely interesting and educational for people of all ages, and is not difficult to begin. Collecting rare paper money may be the last hobby a person will ever start, because it is so fascinating!

Uncirculated Mint Sets

While uncirculated mint sets have been packaged by the United States government for over sixty years, there may be fewer of them than one might imagine. At times these uncirculated coin sets are purposely broken apart by coin dealers in order to satisfy customer needs. Many have been destroyed in this way. In fact, one fairly well known coin dealer is reported to have actually installed equipment to open their protective packaging, rather than have workers continue to do so by hand, lest they suffer from repetitive motion injuries!

Some owners of these uncirculated mint sets have broken the collections themselves. Rather ironically, this is often because they wish to complete a certain collection of their own. Some coins were never minted for common or 'business strike'. For example, the 1970-D Kennedy half dollar was only available from the 1970 uncirculated mint sets. Therefore, the only way that a person could complete a collection of coins in this denomination would be either to break up their own mint set or buy the item from someone else who had done so. Breaking one up, of course, would only make sense if the value of the coin was worth more than the value of the set.

The original packaging of many of these uncirculated mint sets is not very sturdy, and suffers the effect of wear over time. Some collections were packaged in envelopes, whose color at times caused toning of the coins inside. Since there is a continued demand to some extent, (even just because new collectors take an interest each year in obtaining these items), it would seem that as time goes on, fewer of these older mint items will be available. So, if one does have uncirulated coin sets, keep them intact, especially if they are in their original packaging.

A person might easily confuse the concept of uncirculated mint sets with proof sets. However, they are very different. Both, of course, have never been in general circulation. Unlike proof coins, though, the coins displayed in uncirculated sets were usually not made with any special considerations given to the quality of the coins. Normal procedures were followed, unlike the preparation for proof coins, which may require attention to striking equipment or to the blanks used in fashioning the coins, even to the point of multiple strikes or special handling of materials in order to obtain the best quality strike. Therefore, the coins from uncirculated coin sets could display a variety of conditions. However, in general, such sets had probably been handled more carefully and were packaged at the mint, so the coins' conditons may have benefited at least somewhat from the additional attention. Proof coins, on the other hand, received attention at nearly every step in their production.

One move lately to further distinguish mint items from normal uncirculated coinage is that these newer uncirculated coin sets from the US Mint are given a special satin finish in order to make it easier to distinguish them from regular uncirculated coins. This is a wise move for several reasons. First, it helps to distinguish between the Mints' products, which makes them more desirable and sells more collections. Secondly, this discourages unscrupulous sellers from removing original coins which are in excellent condition and replacing them with less valuable coins. With the satin finish, this practice would be more readily apparent. If doubts persist in a buyer's mind before making a purchase, a skillful coin dealer could be consulted to evaluate a set and determine whether an item offered for sale was authentic. Likewise, a person wishing to sell his or her set could obtain authentication which could be a factor in the sale of the item.

The collections which the Mint produced from 1947 until 1958 were double mint sets. That is, they included two specimens of each coin produced from each mint (Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco). In 1965 to 1967, Special Mint Sets (SMS) were substituted. These contained samples of the coins from the cent through the half dollar. The items in these collections were of a higher quality than usual, and were almost 'Proof' in condition. The San Francisco Mint only minted coins through 1955, so those offered afterwards will not have any S coins.

Examining the offerings for uncirculated coin sets and various popular coin investments available on the websites of several coin dealers, it was easy to see how complex the hobby of coin collecting could become. It would take a certain amount of time to familiarize oneself with the many items available, even in the coinage of one's own country, in order to make an intelligent investment. Even after such a labor, there are no guarantees that the winds of the market will blow in a favorable direction so that any profit could be realized. Although one may have invested in coins as a hedge against financial insecurity, there is no promise that any coin will remain valuable or help provide for future needs. In contrast, these words from Isaiah 33:2 offer a sure foundation that one can build a life upon: O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble. Coin collecting can be an enjoyable and sometimes profitable hobby. Make sure that it does not become the pursuit and foundation of a life, though, for only God is able to completely fulfill such a position.

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