National Currency Blog – Memphis 2012 Money Show Report


We are back from the 2012 Memphis International Paper Money Show.  Below are observations about the show, travel, food, and lodging.

First we want to show off some new purchases.  Our favorite buy from the show floor was a 1902 $5 Date Back from The First National Bank of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Blue seal territorials were only issued between 1908 and 1912.  There are currently only 27 known to exist from New Mexico, of those 27 only four are of the five dollar denomination.  The one we purchased is the nicest $5.  That is a lot of qualifiers, but the note is very attractive.  This exact note last sold in 1989 for $2,000.
Our other blue seal purchase was a passed lot impulse buy.  Montrose, Colorado had two national banks.  Charter 7288 is the rarer of the two.  Right now there are only five blue seals known to exist from the bank.  Three of these are high grade notes from the same sheet.  Two are very low grade.  The sheet mates of this note have sold for $25,300 and $16,100 in the past 6 years.  They were slightly higher grade, but the eye appeal was all the same.  Our note is priced at a fraction of those values.
When we saw this red seal on the floor, it had to be bought.  National bank notes are often collected purely because of the name of the town the bank was in.  Fancifully named towns are always popular.  Powhatan Point is a town on the Ohio River that today has a population of less than 2,000.  This is the only red seal from the bank, and it is a beauty.

OK, so the show itself was rather slow.  I didn’t hear any rumors of anything exciting walking in.  As usual the floor was stocked full of amazing nationals.  However, the asking prices were either astronomical or the material was simply for show and tell only.  One dealer had the only two serial #1 national gold bank notes known to exist.  The Higgins Museum had a display of a lot of their great material.  The collector exhibits were also well done, but they had trouble competing with the standard set at last year’s show.  There seemed to be a lot of collectors wandering the aisles, but despite a lot of inquiries we only made one retail sale at the show to a pure collector.  It was for $175.  We sold much more than that wholesale to other dealers. 

This year the “host” hotel sold out really early so we did a priceline for our room.  For $120 we got the four star Madison Hotel which was about five blocks from the Convention Center.  Let me brag a little bit about the Madison.  If $120 wasn’t already cheap enough, for an extra $10.95 a night you get internet, parking, and breakfast.  That combo at the host hotel would literally be $55 a night.  So from now on we are going to try to get the Madison.  It was a great place to get away if you are tired of seeing the same 100 people over and over again.

It took over eight hours to drive to Memphis from South Carolina.  Based on where I live, there is really no good way to get to Memphis.  There are no direct flights unless you want to leave from Charlotte or Atlanta.  After the time change, we got to Memphis at about 4pm.  We had a couple of hours of down time before the charity poker tournament run by Lyn Knight started at 6pm.  For $200 you get all the food and drink you can handle, plus you get to play poker.  35 people played poker and I got knocked out somewhere in the middle of the pack. 

Last year we first dined at Folk’s Folly.  Folk’s Folly is a traditional steakhouse in suburban Memphis.  The food is great, but it is pricey.  We went there again on Thursday night.  I think we ended up having to pay almost $100 per man.  We ate a lot, but that is really more than I like to spend.  It is also a solid 20 minute drive away.

Friday night we went to the Butcher Shoppe.  This place was awesome.  For $19 I got a salmon filet, salad bar, and baked potato.  That is tough to beat.  It was also just a block away from the Madison Hotel.  If it was up to me I would go to the Butcher Shoppe every night.  We had the pleasure of dining with Don Kagin.  Don has only missed one Memphis Show in 36 years and he went to his first ANA show in 1964 at the age of 13.  He has forgotten more about numismatics than most people will ever know.  We got to hear about the Brasher Doubloon (which recently sold for over 7 million dollars) and many other great rarities that Don has handled.

We also ate at Mulligans a couple of times.  The food wasn’t great, but it was close by and cheap.

All told we are really happy with what we bought on the floor.  We wished we could have made more retail sales and met more collectors, but we still did plenty of sales to the usual outlets.  And now the hunt begins for more fresh material for next year’s show.

National Currency Blog – What Could Have Been


Setting up at an ANA Spring or Fall show is kind of like buying a lottery ticket.  You have to be in it to win it.  You probably won’t hit the jackpot, but you can still have fun thinking about what could happen.

The 2012 Denver ANA show was disappointing, busy, and reinvigorating.  The show was disappointing from a sales aspect.  We went with a handful of really great western national bank notes.  They got some looks, but we never took any serious offers.  All of our sales were to dealers that we already knew.  No one from the general public and no one that we consider solely a collector made any purchases.  We also didn’t buy anything from any show attendees.  We didn’t even hear any rumors about something interesting walking into the show.  We do not blame the ANA for that.  We heard reports that ads were running on TV and several Colorado newspapers had large advertisements about the show.  So people knew we were there.

The ANA show is expensive to attend.  Our corner table costs $1,200.  The hotel was another $500 and the plane ticket was $300.  The good news is that while we didn’t make any sales to new people to cover our costs, we did meet a lot of collectors we never knew existed.  At least five different people asked about Colorado nationals.  Another five people asked about Wyoming national bank notes.  There were some new collectors walking the floor and we also spoke to some old-timers who only have a couple of holes left to fill in their collection.  If we had had more nationals from the West priced at $200 – $500 then we would have made a lot more sales.  However, it is tough to cover expenses by selling $350 items at $50 profits.

We got to see a great display of Nebraska national bank notes.  The display was the collection of man who bought his first national in 1965.  The material was simply amazing.  The collector who assembled the collection stopped by our table and chatted for a while.  We learned that Warren Buffett considered collecting national bank notes many years ago.  The hobby was “not controlled” enough for him.  Apparently this was in the days before the census and serial number tracking.  I have long said that national bank note collecting is the purest form of collecting.  We know exactly what was printed and exactly what is known to exist today.  The only unknown is the number of survivors waiting to be found.  I snapped some blurry pictures of three of the four red seals in the display.

We will of course be at the Memphis show from June 8th – June 10th.  We have a couple of items of southern interest tucked away.  They will be out for show and tell there.  We don’t know our table number yet, but when we get it we will pass it along.

National Currency Blog – Come Say Hello


Come say hello this week if you are at the Denver ANA show.  We will be set up at table 1027.  We are buying and selling.

We are especially excited about the host city.  The American Numismatic Association hosts three coin and currency shows a year.  This year the shows are in Denver, Philadelphia, and Dallas.  Denver has not hosted an ANA show in six years.  If you collect national bank notes then you know that there are a lot of rarities from Colorado.  We are hoping that one of the rare ones walks in this week and finds its way to table 1027 (in the back right corner near the bathrooms…).

Not to spoil the surprise, but we will have some great material with us.  Our inventory includes, but is not limited to:  A territorial ace, a Montana red seal, a unique South Dakota town, and a consecutive pair of $5 brown backs.  We will also be offering an extremely rare Golden, CO blue seal.

Whether buying, selling, or just saying hello, please come visit for a few minutes at table 1027.  The table is listed in the dealer directory under Manning Garrett.

National Currency Blog – A Bird In The Hand


March 23rd, 2012

There is a great line in The Usual Suspects where Kevin Spacey states “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist.”  Well I have a new spin on that.  The greatest trick the auction house ever pulled was to convince the world that dealers don’t pay what something is really worth.  This post is mostly to vent, but it is important for any new collector or potential seller to read this.

In September 2011 I got an interesting call from a gentleman in Virginia.  He told me about a collection of national bank notes that he had recently inherited from his step-father.  He described the collection a little more and I decided that it was something I was very interested in learning more about.  Knowing that he was in Virginia and that I am in South Carolina he suggested we arrange to meet the last weekend of October while he was playing golf in Myrtle Beach.  Despite the fact that Myrtle Beach is a winding 4.5 hour one way drive from my house, I still decided it was worth checking out.

A few days before his trip I called the potential seller to firm up our arrangements.  He informed me that he was considering an auction but I was still welcome to check things out.  So I drove to the coast and spent one night near Charleston and then drove to Myrtle Beach the next morning.  The potential seller was in Myrtle Beach playing golf with a couple of friends and his brother.  We met at his rented ocean front condo.  I was so excited to see the collection because it contained almost 50 national bank notes.  The owner’s step father was not a collector; he was just someone who picked notes out of circulation way back in the day.  So that meant that literally anything could be in there.

We sat down and flipped through the stack.  41 of the notes were extremely common and worth less than $150 on average.  I was able to identify nine notes that I was interested in.  So I pulled out my census information database and my most recent edition of the national bank note values book.  Fortunately, the owner of the notes had his own reference book so he was up to speed on what I was talking about in terms of book value.  However, I was quickly able to determine that the owner couldn’t comprehend that the book value was just a suggestion of what something might be worth at retail, in the right condition, on a good day, to a very motivated buyer.

Long story short, I left the condo with a Dr. Pepper and about $20,000 of cash, which is the same amount I came with.  My offers were not even considered and I wasted about $300 on travel expenses, plus 36 hours of my life.  I never heard from the seller again so I was just waiting for the notes to come up at auction.  And sure enough he consigned them to the exact auction he said he was considering.

A few hours ago the notes sold.  Below is a quick break down of the results.

Pay close attention to the book value vs. my offer vs. auction sale price.  I offered $14,700 cash for the nine notes, and those nine notes only.  They sold for $12,450.  I have no idea how much the consignor will actually receive.  That just depends on what rate he negotiated with the auction house.  However, there is no way he got more than $12,450.  In fact he probably got 5 to 15% less than $12,450 due to the seller’s commission consignors have to pay.  No matter his rate, the owner could have sold to me for at least $2,250 more.  He could have gotten paid in cash.  And he could have gotten paid in October 2011, instead of May 2012 (45 days after the auction closes).

Here are the specific notes along with my commentary.

Northfork, West Virginia
Book Value:
My Offer:      $3,700
Sold For:        $1,800
Commentary:  This was the only red seal in the collection.  As such this was the first of the nine notes I made an offer on.  Notes from West Virginia are very very weak right now.  The collector base in West Virginia is very small and cheap.  I have seen West Virginia red seals with book values of $15,000 sell for $7,500 in beautiful condition.  $5,000 was way too high of a valuation for this note.  However, since it was the first note I made an offer on, I wanted to come out strong.  I offered $3,700.  Right after telling my offer to the owner he looked at me like I had just asked if I could have sex with his wife.  It was a look that contained contempt, confusion, and anticipation mixed with a half-smile.  It was almost like he was waiting for me to point him to the hidden camera and then give him my real offer.  I tried to explain the current market for this note, but I could tell nothing was clicking with him.
The note sold for $1,800, which is really about right for today’s market.  I offered more than double what the note sold for.

Farmville, Virginia
Book Value:
My Offer:      $1,800
Sold For:        $1,200
Commentary:  I actually really liked this note.  I considering bidding on this at auction, but I decided to pass, mostly out of spite.  This is the earliest note that either national bank in Farmville issued.  I like notes like that.  The note also has great color and signatures.  It does have a squirrely top left corner, but I can look past that.  This note happens to be the only 1882 brown back from Farmville.  So in explaining my offer to the owner I told him that I liked the note for the above reasons.  Upon hearing that it was the only brown back on Farmville one of the golfing buddies chimed in from the kitchen with a “if it’s the only one then it sounds like it should be worth about $10,000.”  I made the mistake of trying to address his concern to no avail.  Some men you just can’t reach.
It turns out his buddy was $8,800 too high.  My offer was 50% higher than the auction price.

Appalachia, Virginia
Book Value:
My Offer:      $1,500
Sold For:        $900
Commentary:  This was my favorite note of the nine notes I looked at.  The note has two different colored pen signed signatures.  It could be in better condition, but I won’t argue with a nice problem free fine.
This note sold for $900, and I was actually the winning bidder.  I was willing to pay 67% more privately.

Pocahontas, Virginia
Book Value:
My Offer:      $2,800
Sold For:        $3,500
Commentary:  This was the rarest of the nine notes.  It just didn’t click for me though, and here is why.  The First National Bank of Pocahontas issued over 44,000 pieces of currency!  Who cares if the note auctioned was just the second one found.  In twenty years it will likely be one of a dozen.  This note wasn’t high grade and it didn’t have great signatures.  Plus, one of these sold when the bank was unique, and it only brought about $3,000.  This would have been a very dangerous purchase to hold due to the high likelihood of another note being sold from Pocahontas very soon.
I offered 20% less than what the note brought at auction.

Tazewell, Virginia
Book Value:
My Offer:      $600
Sold For:        $550
Commentary:  This was just a semi-interesting blue seal without much grade.
It sold for $50 less than I offered.

Lenoir City, Tennessee
Book Value:
My Offer:      $600
Sold For:        $600
Commentary:  This was another low grade blue seal from a bank that issued much more interesting notes.
It sold for the same price as I offered.

Gary, West Virginia
Book Value:
My Offer:      $1,000
Sold For:        $600
Commentary:  Here is another great example of how weak West Virginia is compared to printed values.  This note wasn’t beauty competition material and it is from a bank that issued over 100,000 notes.  The auction result makes sense to me, the book value does not.
I offered 67% more than the note sold for.

Danville, Virginia
Book Value:
My Offer:      $1,200
Sold For:        $1,600
Commentary:  This was the first of two Danville notes that were part of the collection.  I understand that this note is good in theory.  However, Danville had five different national banks.  A circulated blue seal from a slightly rare bank is not something I am actively trying to purchase for myself or for inventory.
I offered 25% less than the note brought at auction.

Danville, Virginia
Book Value:
My Offer:      $1,500
Sold For:        $1,700
Commentary:  The only thing about this Danville note that piqued my interest at all was the low serial number.  The low serial number masked the fact that this bank actually issued more than 120,000 notes.  Talk about a ticking time bomb.  This note should have 20 notes known to exist from it, and in time those notes will be found.
This note brought $200 more than I offered.

Let me address some topics.
1)  I could be making this all up.  That is true, but I am not.  This has taken me about two hours to write and post.  I wouldn’t waste the time on such an odd group of notes if it wasn’t true.  Everything here is accurate and represents my actual cash offers.
2)  If you were willing to pay so much more privately, why didn’t you bid on more than one note?  The answer to that is simple.  Dealers cannot participate in auction and then make money on the same note.  The auction sets the collector value to all collectors.  I could have bought this collection for $14,700 and likely sold it within the next year for $16,000 to $17,000.  Dealers can get more from collectors than auction houses can get from collectors.  There is rarely the under bidder support to drive prices to what a collector would actually pay privately.  Dealers take chances and pay too much sometimes because they need inventory.  An auction house had never taken a chance because they never take any risk.  The consignor takes all the risk.
3)  Which auction house handled this sale?  It doesn’t matter.  It was one of the 3 major currency auction houses.  They estimated and described the notes accurately.  Everyone who was an interested bidder had a chance to participate.

I would like to make one last observation.  Once you add the 17.5% bidder’s premium to the hammer price of $12,450, you get $14,628.75.  I offered exactly $71.25 more than collectors paid for the deal at auction.

In conclusion, I am interested in purchasing all national bank notes and I am paying very fair prices.  I would like a chance to make an offer on your material before you put it in an auction.  I am looking for notes that I need for my collection and/or inventory.  If you have something I like or need then it is extremely likely that I can offer more than you will realize at auction.  You also don’t have to be local to me.  Just send pictures of what you have and I will make a no strings attached offer.

National Currency Blog – Unique National Bank Notes


The word unique gets used frequently when talking about national bank notes.  Every national bank note is unique in that it is the only one with that serial number and plate number from that bank.  However, when reading descriptions or trying to understand rarity, it is important to know the different kinds of unique.

Completely Unique
     When I hear the term completely unique it needs to describe the only note known to exist from that bank and town.  Completely unique notes should be from one bank towns. Completely unique notes are also always the most expensive.

Unique for Bank
     The term unique for bank is typically used to describe the only note known to exist for a specific bank.  This term implies that there are other banks in the same town.  Notes from the other banks are available.

Unique for Type
     Once you get down to unique for type then you are stretching “unique” a little bit. Unique for type should describe a style of note that is the first known for that type for the bank.  So if a bank issued 1902 red seals and 1902 blue seals, and there was just one red seal known to exist then the red seal would be unique for type.

Unique Denomination
     Unique denominations can sometimes occur for $2, $50 and $100 denominations.  Right now there is only two dollar bill known from Alabama.  The denomination is unique for state.  However, the note itself is not unique otherwise.

Unique for Size
     In 1929 national bank notes changed size to become the same size as paper money is today.  This means that some national banks printed both large size and small size currency.  There are lots of banks for which either no small size is known to exist and large size notes are common, or small size notes are common but no large notes are known to exist.  The first discovery of a particular size from a bank like that would be unique for size.    You need to be careful when using the word unique.  Some people might apply the word unique to the only 1902 $5 date back known for a bank.  While the term unique might be accurate once you apply all the qualifiers, I personally don’t think unique is the appropriate word.

National Currency Blog – 2012 FUN Show Report


Here is a very late FUN show report.

The Florida United Numismatists show is held in Orlando each January. As far as I can tell they always hold it over the first full Wednesday to Sunday period in January. This is touted as the largest coin show in the world.

I left South Carolina around noon on Tuesday. Greenville actually does have really cheap flights directly from our airport to Sanford, FL. However, once you factor in all the waiting and taxi fare involved, driving makes more sense. The drive is only about seven hours.

I was actually able to arrange a visit to check out a national bank note from The First National Bank of Key West, Florida on the way down. Unfortunately what was described as being in “perfect” condition ended up being a stained fine. At least I was able to buy it though. Florida continues to be hit and miss state for me. There is a lot of upside with rare blue seals. Anything in circulated condition just doesn’t get sold or even asked about. Most red seals and earlier types from Florida have a tough time hitting book values even in VF condition.

Here is a picture from dealer registration on Wednesday afternoon. This really doesn’t capture just how busy things were. However, if you are in the business then you know that one has to be very careful when taking pictures around coin dealers. Some are very paranoid, and many times their paranoia is justified.



The above picture was taken just steps away from the escalator. As a side note, for some reason they wouldn’t turn the escalator on when the show opened. So we are talking about dozens of 60 year old men trying to walk down steel steps with ridges. The dealer leading out our line was literally walking one step at a time. So what should have been a leisurely 15 second ride down the escalator turned into a daunting every man for himself scrimmage. Besides the escalator debacle, the rest of the show was very well run and enjoyable.

Rumor has it that 800 dealers set up at this show, so not everyone can get a good table. My table was set on the way to the back restrooms and some concessions. The foot traffic was pretty decent. I was also set up in a little nook with a couple other currency dealers. That resulted in some trickle down traffic. Wednesday was for dealers only. That means that Wednesday was the busiest day. A sad reality in the national bank note hobby is that there just aren’t many true collectors. Most collectors are just dealers who decide to keep notes they like. I personally collect South Carolina national bank notes. I deal just about everything else. If every dealer decided that they weren’t going to collect then the market for national bank notes would die almost immediately. The hobby has been this way for a while though.

Wednesday night saw a dealer trip to Ruth’s Chris steakhouse. Ruth’s Chris is expensive but it is consistent and quiet. I can’t say the same for most restaurants around the family friendly Orlando dining area. For the record I could afford expensive dinners out because I literally made 10 sandwiches (2 per day) for lunch. I also brought bagels, water, and snacks. If you want to eat breakfast and lunch at the convention center, be ready to spend at least $20. They know we are captive there during those hours.

Thursday was pretty slow. I am writing this a month later so I can’t say for sure what happened. I don’t recall anything especially exciting.

Friday was busier. Friday is the day where you see the serious collectors who have real jobs and can’t attend shows on Thursday. They usually fly in early on Friday and attend the show on Friday and Saturday. When I tell you that eight people on Friday asked about North Carolina national bank notes, I am not lying. I have never had one state get asked about so much. I actually had a few North Carolina notes with me, and I sold a couple of them. The perfect collector note still tends to be a note with paper quality, signatures, and it helps if the note is at least somewhat tough to find. Collector notes always do well at shows.

Saturday was slow on the selling side. However, I had the chance to look at a couple rare notes that were brought in by the general public. One of these notes was a 1902 red seal from The Lackawanna National Bank of West Seneca, New York. The note had a hole and it was pressed, but it was still rare. According to collector records it was the first note known with that title. I almost always lose money on New York notes. I was unable to buy the West Seneca note, but I have a feeling it will show up sooner or later somewhere.

The auction on Saturday was very soft. I was watching 30 different national bank notes in the auction just to see what they would sell for. I had made offers on two notes previously, but the owners of the notes decided to put them in the auction instead. One was a 1902 red seal from Enloe, TX. I was ready to buy it and two other notes for $10,000. The three notes ended up selling for $7,950. I can only assume the consignor paid a seller’s commission and ended up receiving about 30% less than I offered. There was also a 1929 small size note from Gary, WV in the sale. It was unique for the bank. A coin dealer owned the note and he was asking $6,000 for it. It ended up hammering for $2,600. Some people have to learn the hard way that auctions aren’t always the best place to get the most for your money.

Overall I think the show was a success. I got to meet a couple of new collectors and I bought some odds and ends that made the show worthwhile.


National Currency Blog – Come Say Hello


We would like to welcome anyone out there who is attending the Florida United Numismatists show to come say hello at table 950.  We are going to have some great nationals priced from less than $100 all the way up to five figures.  We are bringing all types and most states.

The show runs from Thursday January 5th until Sunday the 8th.  We will be there all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  We are excited to see some old friends and hopefully make some new ones.

Check back here a couple days after the show ends for a full report on what all happened.

National Currency Blog – The History of National Bank Notes


A Brief History of National Currency

This is an entry that should have probably been written a couple years ago.  As collectors and dealers we take for granted that we know the history of national bank notes. However, there are plenty of curious members of the general public looking for a crash course on what a national bank note is.

Any national bank that was open between 1863 and 1935 had the option to issue its own currency.  In total, 12,635 banks did print their own currency.  Not every bank in the country was a national bank.  In order to be a national bank there were lots of requirements that state banks didn’t have to follow.  Originally a town had to have a certain population before it could have a national bank.  National banks always had capital requirements that were sometimes difficult for smaller banks to meet.  National banks were audited by the United States government and the OCC.  National banks were limited as to what types of loans they could give out.

Despite the banking restrictions that existed for national banks, there was still one huge advantage.  A national bank could get a double return on its money.  In order to get national bank notes the bank had to buy bonds from the United States and then use the bonds as collateral for their currency issues.  So a national bank would buy bonds which yielded money, then they could use those bonds as collateral for currency.  That currency could also be loaned out, thus yielding more money.  So a national bank made money on their bonds and money on their bank notes.  This dual return made the prospect of nationalizing very attractive to many bankers.

In 1913 the need for national bank lessened.  1913 saw the creation of twelve Federal Reserve Banks.  These banks were centrally located throughout the country.   The Federal Reserve banks made access to quick money much more convenient.  The mid-1910s saw something that hadn’t happened much before, that was the non-issuing national bank. Some banks still chose to nationalize, but they decided not to issue currency.  Some banks nationalized and then didn’t issue currency until ten or fifteen years later.

1928 brought a new change to all American paper money.  The size of money in the United States changed from what we call large-size to the size that we are familiar with today.  This change meant that every national bank had to have new currency.  These new notes were issued in 1929 and are called small size national bank notes or series of 1929 national bank notes.  1929 notes tend to be the most available and least expensive issue for most national banks.  A reason for this is that some 1929 notes are still in circulation today.  Before the big head series started in 1996, there was really very little difference in appearance between a 1990 twenty dollar bill and a 1929 twenty dollar bill.  People are still making great circulation finds as you read this.

The national bank note era ended in 1935.  From 1863 until 1935 hundreds of millions of national bank notes entered circulation.  Today we know of close to 400,000 that have survived.  The total number of survivors is frequently estimated at over 600,000.  Despite that, the national bank note collecting hobby is still relatively young and has a lot of room to grow.

If you would like to know the value or history of your national bank note, please send us an email – or give us a call and ask us about it.

National Currency Blog – Georgia National Bank Notes


Last month I wrote about the ins and outs of collecting national bank notes from Florida.  This month I am going north and talking about Georgia.

Georgia had 165 national banks in 94 different towns.  There are also 159 counties in Georgia.  It is easy to forget that Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River.  If you have been to the South then you know that each county can be its own world, and each one of these worlds tends to have an old school lifelong collector who is the town historian.  These people tend to be strong collectors of their home town national bank notes.  Unfortunately, these are not people looking to spend any real money on anything. They are used to buying things cheap and locally.  They are right place right time buyers, and condition usually isn’t important.  Once they have the hometown note, upgrades and different series usually don’t interest them.

Due to the fact that there were 165 national banks in Georgia, it is very expensive to collect the whole state.  In the past there have been statewide collectors.  To my knowledge, most of them have sold out or are only looking to fill holes.  Despite being in the South, Georgia had too many banks and is too urban today (thanks to Atlanta) to have that old South appeal that a Mississippi or Alabama note will have.

However, it isn’t all bad news.  Georgia does present a great collecting opportunity to collect a Southern state if you don’t want to pay Florida prices.  Like most states, if you have a #1 red seal in choice uncirculated condition then there will be people outside the state of Georgia with interest in your note.  However, if you have the fourth known blue seal in fine condition, then you can probably buy that note for less than $1,500.  The exact same note could cost multiples of that price if it were from Florida or Louisiana.

Notes from Georgia do tend to come in nice grades, but don’t expect to find too many pen signed notes on 1902 blue seals.  First charter notes from Georgia are especially rare and usually worth high four figures.  1882 brown backs from Georgia are available, but they are usually not especially interesting.  A nice high grade brown back, with pen signatures, on a smaller town would get some attention.  Red seals from Georgia are probably not a great investment right now.  There were just way too many banks chartered in the red seal period for the supply of red seals to be so low right now.  In twenty years it is very likely that a Georgia brown back will be worth more than a red seal.  Even rare 1929 small size notes from Georgia struggle to bring more than $1,000.  Georgia is historically underreported, so collectors and dealers really don’t have much confidence in knowing what is really out there and available.

If you need some advice about selling a note from Georgia or adding something to your collection, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions:


National Currency Blog – Florida National Bank Notes


The Peculiar World of Florida National Bank Notes

If you are considering collecting or selling national bank notes from Florida, then you will find the information below of interest.

Florida is probably one of the hottest and coldest states for national bank notes right now. Despite the outcast nature of Florida as not being a true Southern state, its bank note issues follow rather closely to states like South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

First Charter Notes from Florida:
These national bank notes are very rare for Florida. In fact, right now less than five are known to exist. All of the known notes are from Pensacola. In fact, only one other town issued series of 1875 notes – that being The First National Bank of Jacksonville. As you might expect, first charter notes from Florida are closely held and rarely available. Expect to spend low five figures to obtain one.

Second Charter Notes from Florida:
Surprisingly, series of 1882 brown backs from Florida are actually fairly available. Around sixty are known to exist. That number includes four serial number one brown backs. Those number one notes are known as an uncut pair from Key West, and individual notes from The Citizens National Bank of Pensacola and The First National Bank of Tampa.
There are another sixty 1882 blue seals out there from Florida. These notes are typically less desirable than the earlier brown seal 1882 notes.

Third Charter Notes from Florida:
Series of 1902 red seals and blue seals have the best potential for being valuable. Let me clarify that though, the average first or second note is going to be worth more than the average third charter note; however, third charter notes can get very expensive if they are from a special.
Third charter notes are the most exciting because they can be from very rare towns. The following towns are thought to currently be unique:
-The First National Bank of Avon Park
-The First National Bank of Fort Meade
-The First National Bank of Lake Hamilton
-The First National Bank of Palm Beach (not West Palm Beach)
-The First National Bank of Plant City

However, there are certainly some traps out there. For example, red seals from banks in Florida where more than one red seal is known to exist aren’t selling very well. On the flip side, if you have the first red seal from a town, the price could be quite high. Another factor that drives the collectability of Florida bank notes is that every town that issued national bank notes is known to exist. I haven’t run the numbers. However, I doubt that there is another state with more than fifty issuing towns for which all towns are reported. The last unreported town was Fort Meade. All other towns from Florida had been known to exist for many years. Fort Meade became legendary due to its unreported status. In 2004 a 1902 blue seal from The First National Bank of Fort Meade was finally brought to light and it commanded a low six figure price. While six figures is not in play today, there are still some great rarities out there.

Another great aspect of Florida is its active rumor mill. Florida is the land of 1000 coin shops and millions of retirees. These two combinations lead to chance encounters where an interesting note is seen by someone with just enough knowledge to not buy the note, but instead start a rumor. There is supposedly a number one red seal from The Central National Bank of Ocala. There is supposedly a red seal from The Fort Dallas National Bank of Miami known to exist. There is supposedly an uncut sheet of red seals from The First National Bank of Miami. None of these items are known for sure to exist, but the rumor of them is exciting enough for most people.

We have talked a lot about rarity, but if you don’t mind a low grade note, you can get notes from 75% of Florida banks for less than $1,000 per note. Most notes from Florida do tend to come in fairly low grades. I don’t know if the heat and humidity are a factor, but the standard note from Florida just isn’t very attractive. I have done a lot of research trying to find nice notes hiding with the ancestors of old time Florida bankers. Simply put, I haven’t found anything. It appears that most of the interesting notes from Florida have already been found or are hiding away somewhere else.

Many collectors collect notes by state capitol. Only Nevada has a more difficult state capitol than Florida. It is currently thought that only three national bank notes have survived from The First National Bank of Tallahassee’s issues. As I have mentioned previously on the website, Florida also benefits from being a vacation destination. Not many people have found memories of that vacation to Arkansas; but plenty of people remember spending some time in Florida. This nostalgia factor widens the appeal of Florida notes to not just residents, but to the handful of people who have a soft spot for Orlando, Saint Cloud, Daytona Beach, etc.

We are very interested buyers of Florida national bank notes. If you have something for sale, please tell us about it:

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