Greensheet: Activity Across the Rare Currency Market


Greensheet: Activity Across the Rare Currency Market


The January Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Convention has undeniably become the commercial highlight of the year. With a roughly 600-booth bourse, the show is populated by dealers from virtually every state in the country. Add in dealers sharing tables and one can estimate nearly 1,000 separate business entities in the booths. The FUN show itself is anchored by two Heritage Signature Sales: one focused on coins and the other on rare currency. The combined prices realized for these two sales typically aggregates in the vicinity of $75 million! This year’s FUN auction includes a significant presentation of world paper money, an area of the marketplace that has enjoyed a vigorous growth in demand over the past several years. In addition, Stack’s Bowers-Ponterio will include a world paper money session in their auction to be held in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention (unfortunately timed on the same weekend!).

Unlike the coin auction marketplace, where three companies – Heritage, Stack’s Bowers and Ira and Larry Goldberg – control 90%+ of all transactions, the auction marketplace for world currency has more players bringing noteworthy offerings to market via the auction route. These houses include Heritage, Stack’s-Bowers-Ponterio, Lyn Knight, Archives International and Spink-Smythe here in the U.S., as well as a number of foreign auction houses holding sales abroad.


Looking again at the Lyn Knight PCDA auction, the sale of two Fr. 78 $5 1880 Legal Tender notes demonstrated an interesting point. The first carried a grade of PCGS 65PPQ and sold for $8,500. The second was housed in a PCGS 64 holder without the “PPQ”. It sold for $5,000. In this instance the additional grade point and “PPQ” designation resulted in a realization for the first lot 60%+ in advance of the other note from the same pack and only 17 serial number digits away.

The demand levels for rare National Bank Notes were amply demonstrated in the Knight PCDA sale by a Number of exceptional rarities. A $1 Original Series from The Missoula National Bank of Montana Territory certified as PMG 30 sold for $33,000 – just meeting its reserve. The Nevada Nationals section included in Rosemont aggregated 18 notes. 10 failed to sell, providing an important lesson that bidders should keep in mind. That is, consigned material is often reserved. Unless the lot reaches a confidential pre-set level, it will not be sold. While the auction venue often offers an assurance to bidders that there is someone else in willing to pay one increment bid below the successful bidder, this is not always the case.


In our continuing efforts to improve the layout of the Greensheet, we have made a number of changes this month. As you will see in the upper right, we have added a table of contents for quick reference. Also, by moving Fractional Currency to page 5, the listings for large size to small size currency now flow more naturally. Please share your feedback so we can continue to make improvements in future issues.