Currency Collecting

by blackspanielgallery

Currency Collection is easy, and you might just spot something worth a premium by just looking.

Currency collecting is much like coin collecting, but with added pitfalls. In coin collecting it is possible to damage a coin, but it is so much easier to damage currency.

Currency is valued by its scarcity and its condition. Among the things that devalue currency are damages corners, folds that cause creases, and holes, including pinpoint holes. Another problem is currency is occasionally written upon. Since wallets usually fold, damage by normal usage is common.

Finding crisp bills is difficult, and preserving them in crisp condition is important when they are part of a collection.

Currency Supplies

Like most collectibles, using the proper supplies is important.  Of course, having the bills graded and placed in a hard acrylic slab is preferred, since the bills are protected and have a grade.  Unfortunately, this is an expensive process.


Short of having bills graded one can buy acrylic slabs that work well.  They will not guarantee the grade, but they will protect the bills.  A more economical solution is to use semi-rigid sleeves.  Toploader sleeves work well, since they open on the long side.  A sleeve that opens on the shorter side requires the bill be slipped into the opening and slid down without crumpling the bill. 

Choose the Right Size Slab or Sleeve

While a bill can be placed in any slab or sleeve that is large enough, using supplies that more closely match the sizes of your bills is best. 


In the United States three sizes of sleeves and slabs are currently being marketed.  For small bills use the fractional note size.  For most bills use the modern bill size.  For oversized, older bills use the larger bill size.  Just make certain the dimensions are adequate for what will be placed in those supplies.

What Are Fractional Currency Bills?

For years following the Civil War in the nineteenth century there was a metal shortage caused by war needs in the United States.  Notes worth less than one dollar were issued.  These are called fractional notes because they have denominations of less than one dollar, or a fraction of a dollar. These fractional notes are also smaller than a dollar bill. 


Since paper was also at a premium, rag paper was used to make fractional notes.  Rag paper often has blotches of rag that was not fully broken down, so fractional currency is often blemished, but this is the exception to having pristine notes.

More on Fractional Currency

The United States has had many different and unusual coins and paper currency. The fractional currency is perhaps the mot unusual. Are you familiar with these?


Boxes designed to hold the sleeves also come in three sizes, at least those that are sold in the United States do.  This helps prevent the sleeves from being bent, and from spilled liquid from entering the open end of a sleeve.

Reference Books

A good first step in making a currency collection is to obtain reference books.  One may be adequate, but if there is interest in multiple areas, such as types and errors several books might be in order.  It is important to understand the value of a collectible piece before making a purchase.

Military Script

During wars military script is often issued.  This is so members of the military can make purchases in occupied towns even though currency of the occupied nation is not available.  World War II, for example, required German, Japanese, and Italian script to be issued by the United States, which I believe remained in use during occupation period following the end of hostilities.  These are often small, and probably would best fit fractional currency supplies.

Foreign Currency

There are few pieces of currency needed to fill a collection.  Currency is not changed annually, as are coins when a new date is added.  So many currency collectors collect currency from multiple countries.


Some foreign governments have shifted to plastic bills.  These are more durable than paper bills, but still need protection.

Error Notes

Error bills are another collectible group.  Finding error notes in higher denomination bills is harder, since fewer large denominations are printed.  Error one-dollar bills are most common among error bills.


United States bills undergo several printings.  Each side is printed seperately.  Also, such things as serial numbers are added with yet another printing.  Errors can occur at any stage.  Be watchful.  This is where one can find value in circulating bills.


This article contains links to affiliate programs and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting, and allow me to earn from qualifying purchases. As a Viglinks, an Ebay, and an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


The intro image is our image.  These are something in our supplies that we sell on Ebay, but are not allowed to sell our own items through the affiliate program so they are not in this article.

Updated: 06/23/2021, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 06/23/2021

Plastic is petroleum based. However, paper requires trees, and the rest of the tree not used, leaves for example, decompose and return carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The reason for plastic, and we are talking of paper thin, flexible plastic, is durability. Also, tree removal decreases the albedo of the planet, allowing heating up. Soil has lower albedo than green leaves or needles.

The currency collectors I know seem to think the U. S. will be making the change, but when is not known.

Metal storage is probably available, but costly, since they exist for trading cards. Metal is not an environment solution, since metal takes heat to smelt from the ores, and energy to mine. Weighing environmental damage is difficult. And, deciding which environmental issue is best to opt for is another matter, since runoff into waterways is another form of damage. It then becomes a question of air or water that is being dispoiled.

DerdriuMarriner on 06/23/2021

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for practical informations (uniformly enlightening but especially so about error bills and fractional currencies), pretty pictures and product lines.
Aren't plastics largely made from fossil fuels or is plastic bill-making free of fossil-fuel chemicals? I wonder if the United States will consider abandoning paper at some time, what with scary United Nations reports about damaged soils and decreasing numbers of woody plants.
Would sleeve-storing boxes ever be made of metal or would they only be of perhaps some kind of cardboard?

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