Some starter questions from a newbie
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2 posts in this topic

Hello everyone!

I've always enjoyed looking at different banknotes as kid, although I never really got to the point of actively collecting them. The past couple of day the urge to see and possible collect beautiful and possibly special banknotes has returned and I'm trying to figure out if it would be worthwile (from the perspective of time and money invested) to jump into it in my situation. I live in Romania, where most collectibles have lower market values than in richer countries, but people still try to rip eachother off and sell stuff at astronomical prices. That said, the collectibles market itself is probably not too large and I would assume pretty slow.

I've managed to get the current edition of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues, 23rd edition and spend the last two days comparing catalogue prices to sales prices of a dealer. There are a few banknotes that theoretically should be worth about twice as much as the dealer asks for them (all their merchandise is UNC and if any harm comes to the banknotes during shipping they promise to refund). My question is, in general, how accurate are catalogue prices compared to "western" market prices? I know that with stamps catalogue (ex. Michel) prices are 3-5x higher than actual market value. Is this the case with banknotes too, or can I realistically expect to eventually sell a banknote at around the catalogue price?

Oh, before I forget, my initial plans are small in value: I'm searching for cheap stuff, in the 1-3 USD range, so all my above questions refer to banknotes with catalogue values under 5 USD.

Realistically my target market is the non-conoisseur secondary market, where people might buy a note or two as a present for someone, a souvenir or simply because they want to look at it and don't mind spending 1-2 USD on it. Of course, if I get lucky and receive something from a replacement series, I might try to sell it to an actual expert for a nice profit. Overall I don't want to "make money" out of this hobby, firstly I want to learn the tricks of the trade and by selling a note here and there reduce the overall cost of my collection.

Any and all advice is more than welcome!

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I am NOT an expert but I can tell you that supply and demand determines value.  The catalog reads X price for a bill but the key is condition.  For whatever reason, the particular bill style is "hot".  For example, I just got some bills with a large number of 8's and a solid 88888888.  Technically there should be no difference between 77777777, 44444444, and 88888888 but all 8's command a premium because the number 8 is very lucky in Asian culture close to meaning "wealth" so people who collect currency like the solid numbers but ALSO Asians who are number superstitious who would only buy a few lucky bills.  Dealers have a pretty good feel for bill values so if they are selling a bill for $2, they probably paid $1 or less.  You'd be better off trying to buy bills from estate sales or stumbling on them or trading with someone who values that particular bill that you have more than you for one that person has that you value more than they do.  Currency collecting is aging so in 10 years there may be fewer collectors.

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