Some Collectors Fancy Paper Money

Question: I recently inherited the following notes and would appreciate your evaluation: $1 silver certificates dated 1899 and 1923. One dollar legal tender 1917 and $5 legal tender 1907, $10 gold certificate 1907 and $20 gold certificate 1906. And Federal Reserve notes of $1 1918, $5 1914 and $20 1914. Also, I have two Series 1963-B Joseph W. Barr $1 bills. --M.A.

Answer: Paper money is not as popular with collectors as coins, but it still appeals to a number of people, and many items are highly coveted. Like coins, bills are graded according to condition and state of preservation. Rarity is also another factor that contributes to the value, along with the popularity or lack thereof of certain issues.

There are several basic reference sources for evaluating bills. One is the “Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money” (pictured), just out in its fourth edition.

It features the first cataloguing of pre-Civil War Treasury notes and rarity ratings for all banks of issue during the National Bank Note era. There are more than 5,000 U.S. currency items and more than 12,500 market values in the 192-page work. Also, the catalogue, by Chester Krause and Robert Lemke, contains more than 700 photos of all types and major varieties of bills for identification. The catalogue is $16.50 at coin shops plus $2 for postage when ordered directly from the publisher, Krause Publications, 700 E. State St., Iola, Wis. 54990.


Another basic guide is Robert Friedberg’s “Paper Money of the United States” (ninth edition). The pricing may not be as current as the Standard Catalog, but Friedberg’s numbering system to identify bills is often followed by dealers and collectors alike.

As for the value of your bills, the $1 1899 silver certificate is $20, the $1 1923 silver certificate is $15, the $1 legal tender is $5, the $5 legal tender is $10, the $10 gold certificate is $20, and the $20 gold certificate is $30. You can generally figure that early Federal Reserve notes are worth about 10% to 15% over face value. Contrary to popular opinion, Barr notes have no collector value. Barr was Secretary of the Treasury for a short time, but his signature adorned millions of bills, even though many were tucked away in the false expectation that they would become collectors’ items.

Q: I have a hardwood tray with Confederate dollars under glass. I would like to know their value. There’s a $100, $50, $20 and two $10 bills. I also have a Winston Churchill commemorative crown, an 1893 Isabella quarter, 1893 Columbian half dollar, 1854 large U.S. copper cent, 40 Mexican 5 pesos gold coins, 10 Austrian 100 coronas and a set of nine Susan B. Anthony $1 coins. --I.M.K.

A: Your Confederate bills are worth $2 to $10 each, depending on condition. The Churchill crown is $1, the Isabella quarter is $50 and up, the commemorative half dollar is $6 and up, the large cent $3 and up, the gold 5 pesos are $40 each, the gold coronas are $310 each. I cannot appraise the Anthony dollars without knowing condition and mint marks. You mention that you have nine Anthony coins. A set of 13, including the expensive 1979-S Type 2, is currently being advertised for $149. But without knowing dates, mint marks, condition and whether coins are proofs or regular strikes, no evaluation can be made.


Q: I have a silver-and-copper proof set of Trinidad and Tobago’s 10th independence anniversary in mint condition, 1972. Please tell me the value now. I also have 10 coins, silver, from British Honduras, 25 cents each, dated 1906 and 1907. Edward VII, king and emperor, is also on the coins, which are in very good condition. How much value now? --L.L.

A: Your Trinidad and Tobago set was produced by the Franklin Mint and made more for collectors than for exchange purposes in the small island country. It’s worth about $25 in today’s market. British Honduras is now the country of Belize, situated in Central America south of Mexico and east and north of Guatemala. Your silver quarters range in price from about $5 to $200 with the 1906 worth more than the 1907 in similar condition.

Q: Please advise me if my 1773 Spanish coin has any value. It’s about the size of a silver dollar and the head side states: Carolus III Dei Gratia. --E.L.

A: Your coin is worth about $10 to $12.