United States Currency Value Guide

There are thousands of different types and varieties of collectible paper money.  We have been dealing in rare banknotes for many years and our numismatic library consists of more than fifty volumes specifically about United States currency.  We could spend years talking about paper money.  Our guide here hits on the good stuff that you are likely to have.  Just remember that the two most important things that determine the value of paper money are rarity and condition.  Please contact us if you have something you would like to sell, auction, or just get a value on.
Email Us:  MGarrett@ManifestAuctions.com

National Bank Notes

National currency, also known as national bank notes, are extremely collectible.  Banks that were open between 1863 and 1935 could issue their own bank notes.  Records indicate that 12,635 banks issued national currency during that time period.  The great thing about nationals is that they were signed by the cashier and president of each bank.  These bankers frequently saved banknotes that they signed.  This creates situations where exceptionally rare and high grade notes can be saved for generations by banking families before hitting the collector market.  Collectors of national bank notes are always looking for that next great find.  Auctions are a great place to get the exposure and record breaking prices that we frequently see when it comes to nationals.  The value of national banknotes is based on their condition, serial number, bank rarity, and type.  Here are the five basic types of national currency:

first-charter-currency-valueFirst Charters – were issued by banks that were opened between 1863 and 1881.  These are the earliest and some of the most valuable nationals.  This is the only series for which $1, $2, $500, and $1000 notes were printed.  Any note from this time period has the chance to be rare and collectible.  High grade notes and currency from southern and western states tend to be the most valuable.  However, the great thing about nationals is that anything has the chance to be rare.  Talk to us no matter what you have.

1882-brown-seal-currency-valueSecond Charters – are dated as somewhere between 1882 and 1901 (all say series of 1882).  The denominations printed were for 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars.  Collectors really like $5 notes.  The two highest denominations are always worth at least a few thousand dollars.  Second charters were printed with either brown or blue seals.  Brown seals are more desirable.  Your typical price range here is $500 to $5,000.  However, the best examples can be worth more than $10,000 when sold at auction.

1902-red-seal-currency-value1902 Red Seals – are scarce and have the potential to be worth many thousands of dollars.  They are rare because they were only printed between 1902 and 1908.  This was also during a time period when many small towns got their first national bank.  Notes from small town banks are always popular.  Be sure to check the serial number on your 1902 red seal.  If the number under the portrait is a single 1, then you have the first red seal printed by that bank (and that makes it very desirable).  We have sold some amazing red seals for more than $50,000.

1902-blue-seal-currency-value1902 Blue Seals – are the most common large size national bank notes, but they can certainly still be valuable.  It really all comes down to the bank of issue.  Some banks issued tens of thousands of blue seals.  Those notes will be worth a couple hundred dollars.  Many other banks might have only issued a few thousand blue seals; notes from these banks could be worth several thousand dollars.  There are no tricks to valuing currency like this.  Please send us pictures of any national bank note that you have and we can quickly give you the auction value.

1929-currency-value1929 Brown Seals – are the last type of national currency issued by The United States.  As you might expect, the newest notes also happen to generally be the most common.  They are still worth inquiring about though.  Your average 1929 national banknote is worth about $100.  Notes with the serial number 000001 are usually worth at least $1,000.  Some 1929 notes from especially rare banks could be worth a couple thousand dollars or more.  However, notes like that are few and far between.  Please talk to us if you need a price estimate.

Large Size Currency

Paper money printed by The United States between 1861 and 1923 is called “large size” currency by collectors.  These are considered the most collected types of banknotes.  There are hundreds of different types and varieties.  However, there are only a few dozen design types that you are likely to encounter.  Our guide has more information about those types of currency.  It is broken down by the major categories like silver certificates, gold certificates, etc.  Please remember that we are available to answer any value questions you might have.  Contact us via email if you have something you would like to sell or auction.
Email Us:  MGarrett@ManifestAuctions.com

silver-certificate-valueSilver Certificates – were printed for the series of 1878, 1880, 1886, 1891, 1896, 1899, 1908, and 1923.  Silver certificates from 1878 and 1880 are very rare.  Notes from other years have the chance to be rare.  All notes of the fifty dollar denomination and higher should be considered scarce.  Condition is also very important.  For example, some more common large size silver certificates could be worth $200 in average condition or $5,000 in perfect condition.  Please send us pictures of what you have in order to get an accurate value.

gold-certificate-valueGold Certificates – are all very scarce in high grades.  They can be dated as 1863, 1882, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1913, or 1922.  Gold certificates from 1922 for the ten and twenty dollar denominations are the most common.  Everything from 1863 is very rare.  Notes from 1882 are usually worth several hundred dollars; some can be worth a lot more though.  Only $20 notes were issued for 1905 and they are very rare and popular.  There are lots of varieties for most years.  We would be happy to give you a free auction estimate for your note.

treasury-note-valueTreasury Notes – are dated as 1890 or 1891.  The 1890 examples have a rich green back and a large brown seal.  They are a lot scarcer than 1891 notes.  Both years have red serial numbers that end with a star symbol.  These are popular with collectors because there are not many design types or varieties; so it is fairly simple to complete a collection (below the $50 denomination).  Prices range from $200 for a circulated 1891 $1 note to more than 3 million for an 1890 $1,000 note.  Again, condition is very important.  Please contact us to get an auction estimate on your note.

legal-tender-valueLegal Tenders – also known as United States notes were issued between 1862 and 1923 in their large format.  Some very popular legal tenders include the 1923 $10 poker chip note, the 1901 $10 bison note, and the 1880 $10 jackass note.  All legal tenders from the 1869 “rainbow” series are popular and rare in high grades.  There were lots of varieties issued between 1874 and 1880 that are very collectible.  Anything over the $20 denomination is likely rare to very rare.  These notes sell well at auction and we would welcome your consignment.

federal-reserve-note-valueFederal Reserve Notes – can either have red seals or blue seals.  They are technically from the series of 1914, but they are also dated as 1913.  Most blue seals are relatively common in circulated condition.  Prices are very much based on the condition of each note.  You also need to check the serial number on blue seals.  If it ends with a star then you might have a very valuable finds.  All 1914 red seals should be investigated.  Many red seals can be worth thousands of dollars, especially if they are $50s or $100s, or in XF condition or better.

federal-reserve-bank-note-valueFederal Reserve Bank Notes – are all dated as being from the series of 1918.  All of these notes have a blue seal and a portrait on the left hand face.  One, two, five, ten, twenty, and fifty dollar denominations were issued.  The higher the denomination, the higher the value.  The most popular note from the series is likely the 1918 $2 battleship note.  These can be worth anywhere from $200 to thousands of dollars.  It all just depends on the condition and variety.  Also check for star notes.  Star varieties are very hot right now in the auction market.

demand-note-valueDemand & Interest Bearing Notes – are very rare and not something you are likely to encounter very often today.  These were the early types of paper money that were used in The United States mostly during the Civil War.  Even small denominations like ten dollars had a lot of purchasing power, so they got spent quickly.  The examples that have survived today are usually well circulated.  Historic banknotes like these always sell well at auction.  Current valuations on these rarities might really surprise you.  Contact us for details.

$500 & $1,000 Bills

1000-currency-valueWe have sold lots of great $500 and $1000 bills in the past.  They can be dated as 1928, 1934, or 1934A.  As a rule, these bills are not necessarily rare.  It is their qualities that make them valuable.  You always want to check the serial number.  There is a lot of demand for serial numbers under 100 and for serial numbers that end with a star symbol.  Condition is also extremely important.  Truly uncirculated notes sell for significant premiums over circulated notes.  Even common examples in lightly circulated condition should sell for at least twice face value at our auctions.  Please contact us to get an auction estimate.

$5,000 and & $10,000 Bills

5000-currency-valueThese are the two highest denomination banknotes issued by The Unites States.  They are both very scarce today.  However, in the 1980s these really didn’t trade for tremendous premiums over face value.  Today the least a $5,000 can be worth is around $40,000.  The least a $10,000 can be worth is around $60,000.  The year and condition are both very important.  Notes from 1928 are much rarer than 1934 examples.  A lot of non-collectors love notes like this because they are exotic conversation pieces and symbols of wealth.  Any time super high denominations show up they are almost always auction headliners.

1928 Gold Certificates

1928-gold-certificate-currency-valueGold certificates were issued for the series of 1928 for the $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1,000 denominations.  The four lowest denomination are relatively common.  Each note can be bought for a few times more than the face value if you don’t mind a heavily circulated note.  With that said, the same notes in choice uncirculated condition are scarce and sell for significant premiums.  High grade notes should definitely be auctioned.  Keep an eye out for star notes as well.  If the serial number begins with a star symbol then you are looking at several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the condition and denomination.

1928 Red, Blue, & Green Seals

1928-currency-valueMost notes from 1928 are relatively common.  However, they can’t be completely dismissed.  Any currency from this year that has a star in the serial number is going to at least be collectible, and it could be very valuable.  1928C, 1928D, and 1928E $1 silver certificates are scarce.  Red seal $1 bills are popular.  Two and five dollar red seals can be worth good money, but they have to be in gem uncirculated condition or better to really stand out.  Right now we are seeing a lot of demand for 1928 green seals.  Serial numbers under 100, and serial numbers that end with star symbols are hot.  Any 1928 note in excellent condition is going to sell best at auction.

1929 Federal Reserve Bank Notes

1929-brown-seal-currency-valueCirculated Federal Reserve bank notes are very common.  The only exception to that rule applies to $5 notes from San Francisco and St. Louis.  Those are scarce in any condition.  Everything else really needs to be in uncirculated condition to be especially valuable.  There is also a very active market for star notes from 1929.  If the serial number on your note ends with a star symbol instead of the letter A then you have a nice find that should sell well at auction.  Please send us pictures if you think you have a rare, high grade, or star note.

Hawaii & North Africa Notes

emergency-currency-valueThese notes can be dated as 1934, 1934A, or 1935A.  Hawaii notes have a brown seal and the word HAWAII overprinted on the front and back of each note.  North Africa notes were issued for the $1, $5, and $10 denominations.  They all have yellow seals.  The rarest note from this series is the 1934 $10 yellow seal (1934A yellow seals are very common).  This series is all about condition.  Notes in perfect condition will be worth several hundred dollars or more.  Also check the serial numbers.  Notes that have a serial number that begins with a star symbol will definitely be worth auctioning.

Misprinted Money

error-currency-valueErrors are valued purely based on the severity of the misprint, the condition of the bill, and the rarity of the bill.  The majority of errors sell for between $50 and $500.  The next tier up is $500 to $2,000.  Errors in that price point will be the result of an odd misprint and occur on slightly rarer banknotes.  For an error to be worth more than $2,000 it will have to be really unique and severe.  It is sometimes difficult to price really special errors that you don’t see very often.  If you are selling your misprinted money, then consider our auctions.  Contact us for a free valuation.

Military Payment Certificates

military-payment-certificate-valueMilitary Payment Certificates (MPCs) were issued for United States military personnel to us on bases in foreign countries from World War II until the Vietnam War.  We are sorry to report that most MPCs are very common and worth a few dollars each.  However, the rare ones out there are very collectible and hotly sought after by collectors.  The notes that have a chance to be collectible will have a serial number that ends with a number (instead of a letter).  Five, ten, and twenty dollar MPCs are occasionally valuable, especially if they are in choice uncirculated condition or better.

Fractional Currency

fractional-currency-valueFractional currency has been collected since it was originally issued during The Civil War.  As a type, all fractionals are relatively common.  Most collectors are looking for examples in perfect condition.  Most generic fractionals sell for between $50 and $500 in perfect condition.  There are also lots of scarce varieties out there.  Some of the rarest varieties can be worth thousands of dollars.  If you are looking to sell a fractional then you will have to provide us pictures of the note.  We would be happy to let you know if you have something special.

Confederate Paper Money

confederate-currency-valueConfederate currency is a very popular area of numismatics to collect.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that probably 99% of the confederate currency out there is either fake or very common.  The 1% of the market that is hotly collected is either going to be in excellent condition or going to be a rare variety.  There are lots of guides on the internet that show how to spot a fake vs. an authentic confederate note.  Please send us pictures of what you have if you need more value information.  We can’t help with any confederate inquiries over the phone.

Obsolete Banknotes

obsolete-currency-valueBroken banknotes come in three varieties.  There are non-issued remainders, issued banknotes, and contemporary counterfeits.  All are considered collectible, but issued authentic notes are almost always the most valuable of the three groups.  Obsolete currency ranges in value from $10 for common notes, to several thousand dollars for the rarest of the rare.  Each note is valued on a case by case basis.  The condition and issuing bank are the most important value factors.  We are looking for quality obsolete banknotes for our currency auctions.  Contact us for an estimate.

Colonial Currency

colonial-currency-valueIt’s sometimes hard to believe, but lots of colonial and continental currency is common.  However, if you have some colonial currency then you should definitely have us check it out.  There are lots of rare varieties.  A general range is $50 to $400 for common notes, and $500 to a few thousand dollars for rare notes.  You need to be aware of the year, denomination, condition, and signature on each colonial banknote.  Many Declaration of Independence signors also signed colonial currency.  Contact us for a free auction estimate.

Want A Free Auction Estimate?

We are actively seeking quality single consignments or entire collections.  Please contact us to get an auction estimate of what your consignment should be worth at one of our auctions.
Email us: MGarrett@ManifestAuctions.com
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