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40+ Years in the Making



...Finally after more than 40 years, a youthful fascination becomes reality.

As long as I can remember, I have been interested in numismatics. Working odd jobs as a youth I recall spending a large portion of my paycheck on coins. Some of those coins I still own today. I also enjoyed reading about my hobby in Coins Magazine.

I loved that magazine and I couldnt wait until the next months edition arrived in the mail. I often read it from cover to cover. As a youth, I discovered that reading is the gateway to passion and I began to dream of the coins I wanted to collect. Some of those dreams I realized, while others I have not. For instance, I still dont own a Stella... sigh... oh well.

Unfortunately, time is beginning to erode much of what I read from those old issues of Coins Magazine now some forty-plus years later. However, of all the articles I read, one article still stands out. That article featured the National Currency banknotes from the banks John Dillinger robbed during his yearlong crime spree in 1933 and 34.

What a neat idea for a currency collection! This article had everything! It featured one of the most notorious mobsters of all time in John Dillinger and it was regional to the Midwest where I grew up. Incidentally, one of the banks John Dillinger robbed was in my home state of Wisconsin. However, the coolest aspect of all was that the article featured small-size National Currency of the type circulating in 1933 and 34. Additionally, this article also represents the first time I had learned of currency with the name of the bank and its charter number printed right on the note! Furthermore, this single aspect makes it possible to trace the currency to the point in time and specific banks John Dillinger robbed. This got me to thinking that I might like to own select National Currency banknotes and a dream was born.

As with most dreams, unless you think about them on a daily basis, you will likely need a catalyst to re-ignite them at a future date. My National Currency catalyst came in the form of an e-mail for a recent Heritage currency auction highlighting a PCGS choice-63 PPQ (premium paper quality) National Currency twenty-dollar banknote from my home state capital of Madison, Wisconsin. At first I thought anything featured in Heritages e-mail would certainly be too expensive for me to bid, but curiosity led me to click on the link anyway. To my surprise, I found that the Heritage listing was well within my reach and I placed an internet bid near the upper end of Heritages estimated value. This placed me as the high bidder for the lot.

Since a live auction followed the internet auction, I looked for alternatives should I lose my primary lot. To my delight, I found a five-dollar note from my boyhood stomping grounds of Sheboygan, Wisconsin! Furthermore, this lot came up for auction after the Madison note meaning I would have already known that I had lost the Madison note. Therefore, rather than place an internet bid on the Sheboygan banknote, I decided to wait for the live auction to place my bid.

On the night of the live auction I anxiously waited to see if my bid for the Madison note would be challenged and to my surprise there were no additional bids on the lot. As a result, I won this lot for less than Heritage's estimated value! Since I had never participated in Heritage's live auction up to this date, I thought why not go for the Sheboygan banknote?

Unlike the twenty, the five had fierce competition. However, I was determined to win this lot as my competitive adrenaline, compelled by my dream of owning National Currency banknotes began to flow. In the end I had the high bid and won the lot with a final hammer plus buyers premium about twelve dollars higher than Heritages value estimate.

As an aside, the live auction felt very much like a real auction and this is by design to drive up the final hammer. Thus, it is vital that you know how much you want to spend and stick with it. If you let the emotion of moment capture you, you will more often than not spend too much money. This could have been especially dangerous for me since I am not as well versed on the paper money side of numismatics. Ultimately, I did not spend a lot of money and my first internet live auction was a lot of fun and a good learning experience. Therefore, notch up another boyhood dream realized.

As an extra bonus, the Madison banknote is a type 1, while the Sheboygan banknote is a type 2. Type 1 banknotes have the banks charter number printed in black on both the right and left sides of the obverse. Variety 2 banknotes in addition to having the charter number on both sides, adds it to the banknotes serial number. I think this is what drove the cost of the five dollar note up to within forty dollars of the twenty.

Now I will eventually have to add Baltimore for my kids and Bremerton, Washington for my wife. Furthermore, I will have to get the five dollar banknote graded with a few other odd notes I own. Interestingly, while NGC allows PCGS coins into their registry, they only allow NGC graded notes into their paper money registry.

Now if anyone can help me, Id like to locate the Coins Magazine article I read as a young boy. The best I can tell is that it was published sometime between 1970 and 1976 and most likely between 1973 and 1974. Otherwise, I'll have to call Krause. Please forgive me for posting a banknote journal on the coins side of Collectors Society, but I am first and foremost a coin collector! Remember, whatever you like to collect, happy collecting!



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