Recently, I found an eBay seller from France who was blowing out a fairly large and varied collection of paper money from French West Africa. I was able to purchase many, many notes which ranged from 1912 – 1956 with denominations from 5 Francs to 1000 Francs. The early notes included 1920′s issues, such as this fifty franc note from 1926:
I also bought multiples of the following, with selling them in the future in mind:
Anyways, I ended up spending a couple of hundred dollars on these notes, and most of them ended up being duplicates. However, although these banknotes are neither rare nor scarce, I would imagine that their availability will go down, as it always does with paper money that is no longer being issued.
There’s always been something in me that is particularly fond of banknotes that are 100 years old or more. Its true that for the most part those lack the color and detail that was introduced into the paper money printing process in the late 1930′s, but the history of the banknote enthralls me as well. I always wonder what a century old dollar bill bought its owner back in the day, and how many hands the banknote has passed through — the total inventory that it has purchased, and the deals that it was part of.
This recent acquisition is not quite a hundred, but for every year I age, so do my banknotes, don’t they? And so I will buy banknotes from the 1910′s and the 1920′s knowing that they will become part of my small ‘century old club’ banknote collection. In that spirit I bought this Swedish 1 Krona banknote from 1920:
It is neither the prettiest nor the ugliest banknote of its age, but at $9.99 it seemed like a good deal, regardless of what the catalog had to say about its value. If nothing else it is an elaborately designed note, and I absolutely love the crest at top center.
For a long time now the Ivory Coast has been classified, in the realm of paper money collecting, as part of the West African States, and truly it is so. And truly it is so. It shares a currency common with many of its neighbors. However, there was an issue of Ivory Coast money, though similar to the issues of other countries, was Ivory Coasts very own, and that is the 1917 issue. At the time the French colonists saw fit to print .5, 1, and 2 Franc banknotes and though they are not pretty notes, they are becoming scarce — and expensive. However, some of these notes in less than VF condition are still affordable on eBay, and so I’ve made it a point to buy them so that I can check another country off of my collection list.
There was a period of time, only a few years ago, when early (1930′s) Iranian paper money sold for a fraction of what it is being sold and bought for today. At that time, I didn’t see a lot of wisdom in purchasing the low denomination notes of that era, though I did pick up a handful. In the last few years, contradictory to my expectations, Iranian paper money has actually gone up drastically in price. Even low denominations, such as 5 Rial banknotes, are selling for $15+ in VF condition. Earlier editions, where Shah Reza is wearing his military cap, are selling for considerable more. High denominations are definitely beyond my reach now. So although I look, I end up purchasing very few of these Persian banknotes. I did manage to buy another 20 Rial banknote in salvageable condition, although I wouldn’t be too excited about the purchase price. It will be a while before this paper money catches up to its catalog value, but it now seems like a good purchase. Here’s what I managed to land:
If I ever had to slim my collection down to, say … 100 or so, this note would definitely make the cut. The first issues of paper money from Ethiopia were of a currency called Thalers, and with the exception of the 2 Thaler note (the lowest denomination), this paper money featured African animals on the front face. The ten Thaler note, also know as Ethiopia pick 8, features a leopard on the prowl. It is a beautiful note, and one that is quickly becoming scarce on eBay. I was thrilled to purchase this one, and did so at a bargain. However, even at catalog value this banknote is a scarcity and a wise investment. I figure that if you don’t buy one now (for $100-$200) you’ll be asked to pay $500+ within five years.
I’ve tracked the sales of these early Ethiopian notes, and have noticed a drastic decline in their availability in auction format on eBay. As a matter of fact, there is only one on sale in the ‘Buy It Now’ format, and its price is $450. Here’s the one I managed to land:
After recently missing an opportunity on a beautiful antique Nicaraguan banknote featuring a farmer plowing his fields with his oxen a new opportunity re-emerged with a similar scene on Turkish paper money. Pick 199a is a 1 Livre banknote from 1926, which is quickly becoming either very expensive or scarce on eBay, and features a man plowing a field using a couple of oxen. I wasn’t really looking for this banknote in particular, and it wasn’t really a bargain if I use the standard catalog of world paper money as a reference, but I think that it is one of those banknotes that will prove its investment value within a relatively short period of time. This one cost me $50. On the other hand, the lowest Buy It Now price on eBay, for a note in similar condition is $130, so suddenly it doesn’t seem like I overpaid!
I know that old banknotes from Peru are not highly values, but their classical depictions of man, woman, and beast are irresistible. Personally, I don’t see these ever getting super-valuable, but at a few dollars apiece, many of these notes are attractive purchases both as moderate investments and for collectors value. It always puts a smile on my face when I manage to win a note that is 70+ years old, has a beautiful design, and I can buy for less than the cost of a coffee. Such is the case with this Peruvian banknote: a 10 Soles do Oro (suns of gold!) from 1939. Just a beauty of a note, in the South American style of the time. This one cost me $3.65 and will find a welcome place in my collection!
After having actually visited Bolivia, and in particular its bigger outdoor markets, I have come to the realization that any 50 or 100 Bolivianos banknote from either 1911 or the overstamped 1929 version of the same notes, are actually scarce and undervalued in the catalog. Hence, upon my return, I have been keeping my eyes open for pick 119, which is the 100 Boliviano banknote from 1911, without overstamp, to complete the set. Finally I had to settle on a note that is in VG condition, and ended up paying $21 for it. However, as I said, this note is scarce because even though I was able to find lots of banknotes in Bolivia, there was only one person who had any 50 or 100 Boliviano notes from this era. The few that this person had were in bad shape anyhow, and were going for approximately 2.5x face value, which would put my latest purchase at a street price, in Bolivia, of nearly $40USD.
If you are looking to complete a set, or collect this one, I suggest snatching up any 50 and 100 Boliviano notes that are under $20 and $40, respectively, that can be found on eBay. Here is the one I managed to win:
Well, its been a while, but admittedly it is taking a lot of work to produce the new version of RealBanknotes.com. I want the site to be perfect before I launch, but I’m sure its going to be a real improvement, and a huge opportunity for banknote collectors to form a unified online community.
Anyhow, I’ve been on eBay again, and have finally purchased a banknote which I have been trying to buy for a long time. It is a French banknote featuring the Arc de Triomphe at left and Napoléon Bonaparte at right. There are two variations of this note, the earlier version being a 10,000 Franc banknote, the latter, as in this case, being a later version of 100 Nouveaux Francs.
Yes, the edges are torn, and yes, there is a small stain, but considering the rarity of this banknote on eBay, I am very happy to get this one at a price I can afford.
I remember when I first started to collect paper money, some of the very first banknotes I bought were from the very beautiful 1928 issue, all of which featured very picturesque depictions of battles, colonization, and other such events on the reverse side. This latest addition to my collection isn’t quite as colorful, however I have always liked these classically styled banknotes, even when they are in monotone. This latest note was, I believe, a decent deal at $15.50. The man at center is none other than Columbus himself!