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Coin collecting is a hobby enjoyed by countless generations of history buffs, and perhaps one of the most popular historical-collector hobbies. While coins may be the flashy, mainstream collector item, banknotes and paper money are just as interesting to learn about and as exciting to collect. At David Ellis, we buy and sell valuable and historical banknotes in addition to coins, jewelry, precious metals, and sought-after collectibles. One of the region’s most trusted jewelry stores and experts on antique, vintage, and modern currency, you’ll be amazed by the variety of exciting items you’ll find in our store. 

How to Start Collecting Banknotes

Paper money has fascinated people for centuries, having first made its appearance in China during the Song Dynasty more than 3,000 years ago. Since then, countries around the world (some no longer in existence) have produced printed paper money, often depicting images that illustrate life at the time. Offering illuminating insight into what our ancestors may once have experienced, banknotes are a fascinating topic with infinite depth and a long history. 

Collectors cherish banknotes of all types, with some collectors targeting antique banknotes with deep historical significance, and others seeking out modern-day paper currency from countries around the world. Most collectors begin by collecting various versions of currency from their own countries, seeking out old designs and out-of-print series that help tell the story of their home. To expand, most collectors branch out to collect foreign paper money, some for their historic value and others because they feature beautiful colors, designs, and special features. 

What Makes a Banknote Collectable? 

Not all banknotes are worth something more than their monetary denomination, but some banknotes with specific qualities are considered highly valuable and sell for astounding prices at auction. Some qualities that make a banknote a collectible include: 

  • Historic value: Discontinued notes, limited-edition notes, old notes, etc.
  • Famous figures: Notes featuring famous people, monuments, plants, or animals
  • Condition: Uncirculated or circulated
  • Serial numbers: Solid serial numbers (i.e. 555555), ladder serial numbers (i.e. 213456), etc.
  • Misprinted notes: Errors or recalled notes

How to Handle Banknotes

If you have paper money that you think could be worth something, it is important to preserve their quality and keep them protected to keep them from losing value. As with rare and collectible coins, damage and defects to banknotes often degrade their value, so be sure to take care when touching or sorting them. To preserve the quality of your banknotes: 

  • Wash your hands before touching or handling notes
  • Never handle notes near water, moisture, or spills
  • Do not bend or crease notes
  • Handle infrequently to reduce the risk of causing damage
  • Store flat in plastic sleeves to protect against light damage, dust, and aging

Banknote Terminology

Before you start collecting, buying, and selling valuable banknotes, there are a few key pieces of terminology that you will need to learn. Terms used by experts to describe various features of banknotes include: 

  • Face: the front of a note
  • Vignette: the portrait, scene, or image depicted on the face
  • Denomination: the monetary value of the banknote
  • Date of issue: old banknotes often have the month, day, and year they were issued