Is My National Bank Note Rare?


There are two factors that make a national banknote rare:
1) Issuing Bank – which bank name is printed on the note
2) Type of Note – year, denomination, basic design

Furthermore, two other factors make up the value of a national banknote:
3) Desirability – why would someone need the note for his collection
4) Condition – how has circulation or lack of circulation affected the note

Issuing Bank – The easiest way to rank a note’s rarity is by “number of notes known.” Over 14,000 national banks issued currency; and over the years collectors have kept track of how many notes exist from each bank. Currently over 1,600 banks don’t have any currency reported to still exist. These banks would be considered exceptionally rare. A few thousand have only one to three specimens outstanding – these would be considered scarce. A lot of banks have 4 – 10 notes known and these would be considered to be standard. And in most cases, if a bank has more than ten examples available – it is just common.

Type of Note – There are some instances where a bank may have fifty examples of one type of note known and only one of another. The common example might sell for $150 while the rare example could be worth $10,000. So just because a bank is common, does not mean that every note the bank issued is common.

Desirability – This is one of the biggest variables that drives prices in any hobby. Some notes are more desirable because they come from a state that only had five national banks. Others are more popular because they have an interesting town name. There are any number of reasons a note becomes more desirable than another; in almost every circumstance the reason is in the eye of the beholder.

Condition – Lastly, condition can make even some the most common notes be worth more than they should. Many times when collecting national banknotes, condition is not very important. Some banknotes are so scarce that they are offered for sale once every other decade. Other banknotes can be bought at will. For the exceptionally common notes, it is really only condition that adds any extra value to them.

In reality though, there is no way for us to list all the reasons a certain note can be rare while another one is not. If you have a note to sell or that you want appraised, just send us an email or give us a call.