Hickman and Oakes Currency Auctions


Hickman & Oakes was an auction house that specialized in selling collectible United States currency. The two man duo of John Hickman and Dean Oakes operated out of Iowa City, Iowa in the 1970s and 1980s. Their sales began in 1976 and ended in 1989.

In many ways John Hickman was the father of national bank note collecting. It was his diligent research and enthusiasm for the hobby that enabled it to be approached in a scholarly way by a number of new collectors. Hickman was the first person to keep records of known serial numbers of national bank notes. His record keeping is the basis for “the census” we use today. John Hickman passed away in 1995.

The firm Hickman and Oakes is best known today for their national bank note auctions. More importantly, most collectors look back fondly at the Hickman and Oakes days when national bank notes could be bought for what now seems like very very cheap prices. Today national bank note auctions consist of a few new discoveries, but most notes have an auction record. Back in the glory days, Hickman and Oakes sales were almost completely new discoveries that were appearing on the market for the first time. The better lots usually included a discovery story of how the note came to Hickman and Oakes. These stories always add some extra character to any note.

The Hickman and Oakes catalogs of yesteryear look nothing like what an auction house might send you today. Current collectors expect a phonebook size catalog all with photo color copies of thousands of notes. The Hickman and Oakes catalogs only featured images of the most important notes, and even then you were dealing with a pixelated black and white image. However, in many cases these grainy photos are the only known images of some great notes. Notes were so affordable back when Hickman and Oakes were operating that a non-collector could spend a few hundred dollars on a great note without thinking twice about it. Today these same notes are held by the original buyers and some aren’t aware of the significant gains they have realized.

Hickman and Oakes catalogs are difficult to find today. Most catalogs were small and easily lost. Below is a listing of the sales including a scan of the catalog cover and descriptions of the more exciting notes from each sale. If you want specific scans or information, just ask.

Listing of Hickman and Oakes Auction Highlights

We love the chance to buy notes with a Hickman and Oakes pedigree. Please contact us for an offer on any notes you have.