Make no mistake, I am a coin collector through and through, but occasionally I get interested in collecting paper currency.
The definition of numismatics according to Wikipedia is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. However, when I typically think of the term, I rarely associate it with anything other than coins. Occasionally though, for various reasons, there is paper currency on ?The Other Side of the Aisle? that catches my eye.
For most collectors, there is nothing like finding "out of date" currency in everyday commerce. Whenever I received old paper money for change during a purchase, I would remove it from circulation, just as I would if I received obsolete coins in my change. Two such finds were a 1934-A, Federal Reserve Note, $5 bill and a red seal, 1963 United States Note, $5 bill.
Much like with my coins, I purchased most of the collectible paper currency I own from dealers. When I was a young lad, I bought my first paper note from a camera store with a rotating display case full of coins and paper money. Since I liked odd denomination coins, it was only natural that my first purchase was a 1953-C, United States Note, $2 star bill. Still enamored by $2 bills today, I bought two 2003-A, 32-note sheets, and had one sheet matted and framed as a gift to my son.
Some time ago when I was in the US Navy my ship pulled into Pearl Harbor while in route to the Orient. At a local coin shop in Hawaii, I bought a 1935-A, Silver Certificate, Hawaii overprint, $1 bill. Since I love history, I could not resist the significance of this unique note in our nation?s history. Hawaii overprint notes were issued for use in Hawaii during World War II. If per chance the Japanese had conquered Hawaii, the United States could easily demonetize them and declare them worthless.
Many people consider the educational notes of 1896 the most beautiful paper notes ever issued. Because of this, along with the strong allegories associated with the series, I bought a well-worn, ripped, and scotch taped example of the $1 educational note. The note, entitled ?History Instructing Youth? depicts a seated female representing history overlooking Washington DC teaching a young boy from the constitution. On the obverse of the note along the edges are the names of famous Americans.
While my educational note was expensive, because it was well worn, it was affordable. This was not the case with the $2 and $5 notes; the cost of both these notes precludes me from ever purchasing them for my collection. That was at least until I found an adequate alternative.
Every year at the ANA?s World?s Fair of money, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing issues commemorative prints. For three years beginning in 1971, the Bureau issued prints featuring reproductions of the three educational notes printed with plates prepared from the original master dies. Subsequently, I purchased all three prints for a reasonable price on E-Bay.
I hope you enjoy the photo collage of all three notes. The $2 note is entitled ?Science Presenting Steam and Electricity to Commerce and Manufacture?. The central figure on this note represents science, the children, electricity and steam, and the seated women, commerce and manufacture. The $5 note created quite a stir and is probably the reason this series was short lived. The $5 note is entitled ?Electricity Presenting Light to the World? or ?Electricity as the Dominant Force in the World?. The central figure on this note holding a lit light bulb represents electricity. The problem with this note is that two of the female figures are bare breasted. It is said that Boston's society ladies took offense with this design, and subsequently some bankers refused to accept the notes in transactions. From this incident, the phrase ?Banned in Boston? was coined. Until next time, whether you collect coins, paper currency, or both, happy collecting!