Kyle Explains: Currency Collecting
I attempt to explain complicated things
Currency collecting is the hobby of collecting rare coins and paper money that are worth more than their face value for a multitude of reasons. Currency collecting is referred to as numismatics, stemmed from Old French and English words roughly meaning ‘coins’. Collectors often seek rare paper money or coins based on a low amount made, the age of the item, manufacturing defects, forgeries, or collectability reasons such as arcade tokens which hold no face value but are still sought by collectors.
Currency collecting has been around as long as currency has been. One of the first coin collectors is widely accepted to be Agustus, the first Roman Emperor who gave old coins as gifts. While it’s subject to say he was a collector, the fact is true that he held value in old currency. This is what the basis of collecting currency is. Some collectors focus on one specific currency or category, while others have a wide collection of varying rare items with many types of historical importance.
Some collectors focus only on paper money. The U.S. dollar bill is very collectible for many reasons, many are based on the serial number. U.S. dollars print a star note when they have to reprint a bill, these notes have an asterisk or star instead of a letter in the serial number. These bills are often rare due to the fact that there are fewer of them printed, some years less than 50,000 of these bills are printed. U.S. dollar bills also have a ‘twin bill’ where the serial numbers match. This is because they come from different printing facilities, and it is a rare occurrence. Serial numbers that are called ‘super repeaters’ are also very rare. When the serial number is 12345678 or 55555555, there’s a low chance that one bill came out with one of those numbers and they are highly collectible.
U.S. coins are also very collectible. Old paper money is not found in circulation since it looks so different, some bills were red and you won’t see those in your change. Old U.S. coins on the other hand look very similar to new ones and can sometimes be found in your change jar. Wheat pennies are a collector item that are simply pennies made before 1958. They feature wheat grains on the back of them and look very similar to today's pennies. Another rare penny is the steel penny from 1943 and 1944. These pennies are silver in color and were made out of steel since brass and copper was used for the war efforts during those years. A 1944 wheat penny can go for more than $50,000 due to its limited production of only 50. Mercury dimes were produced until 1945 and feature the head of Lady Liberty, but were confused with the Roman goddess Mercury and given the name Mercury Dime. These too are still circulated on rare occasions.
Other important collection items are forgeries. A good forgery can be worth more than an original item. This being said, I’m not telling you to start forging money. An expensive or rare forgery gets its value from the person who made it, not particularly the item in question. A fake dollar bill is worth nothing, a fake dollar bill made by Banksy is worth a lot - regardless of quality. Another Item that people collect in the currency realm is tokens. It’s not a perfect answer to what these fall under. A vintage arcade token may be worth more to someone who collects arcade equipment, while a vintage poker chip might be more valuable to a gambler, while a Big Mac token may be valuable to a Mcdonald's collector! Regardless, all three are types of currency that have historical value.
Collecting currency is a pastime for many people, and the hardcore collectors can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for one item. Old items are historically important and currency will continue to be produced every year making old items continually more valuable. The more you know about it, the more you’ll be checking your change at the grocery store!
What are your thoughts on Currency Collecting? Comment below!
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