Since 2003

Collectible Paper Currency

Would it be a wise thing to put away a few crisp new dollar bills for the future? As a face value investment? Would coins be better? Collectible paper currency has been with us since the Revolutionary War. In most families it was usually the coins that were saved, if any money was saved at all, during difficult times.

However, the fact that pristine examples of colonial notes can be found in fine currency collections today suggests that someone had the need, or the foresight, to put away a little cash. And over time, these mere scraps of paper became ever more scarce. Paper money, after all, is not such a durable commodity as coinage.

As living conditions evolved, and the life of the average citizen improved, there came to be time, interest and funds for leisure time activities, hobbies such as coin and stamp collecting, and to a lesser extent, the collecting of paper money.

Today coin collectors refer to paper money enthusiasts as Rag Pickers, and worse. However, many a coin collector eventually gives in to a growing interest in paper as a relevant adjunct to his growing stash of ancient and glowing metal. Both hobbies can be wickedly expensive. Investment in a choice coin or bill can pay off rather well. Or not.

But coins and paper bills still circulate. The final victory of the credit card, and who knows what after that, has yet to be concluded. The point is, even though coins are no longer made of gold and silver, or even solid copper for that matter, all things being equal, a coin will never sink below its face value. And the same can be said for a dollar bill, or a five, ten twenty, fifty, or one hundred dollar bill. (This is not the time to discuss purchasing power. Just let it go.)

So, you get coins and paper money at face value, just by removing it from your pocket or wallet and tossing it into your dresser drawer. Or neatly tuck each into a special collector envelope, holder, or album.

When you do this, you have made a face value investment. Especially if you make the effort to acquire uncirculated specimens at your bank instead of from your pocket, you may end up guilty of a successful investment. Whether collectible coins or collectible paper currency will make the better investment is an open question. If you must choose between the two, here are two things to consider:

There are more coin collectors than paper money collectors.

Demand for coins is perhaps higher overall, but remember, there are more coins in existence. Coins tend to last. Paper money is relatively fragile. Well, so it is. A one dollar bill lasts six months in circulation on average. Then it is destroyed by the government, with the banks as its accomplices.

Do these facts influence the relative value of coins versus paper. If you answer, I need more information, you get an A for the day.

My advice? Make no decision. Just put away some nice new coins and some equally fetching uncirculated (crisp) paper money. Learn how to store each.

Save them for your grandchildren.

In twenty to fifty years they will remember you as a genius.

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