The Fancy Serial Number Files: Serial Number 1

Posted on 1/23/2024

What better place to start the first column in a series about highly desirable serial numbers?

Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG®) is the world’s leading authority on fancy serial numbers, a popular segment of numismatics. In this series, we take an in-depth look at different fancy serial numbers. This month’s topic is Serial Number 1.

Banknotes with Serial Number 1 have special appeal to the paper money collecting community. For instance, the operators of the national banks that were spread out across the United States often saved these notes as mementos during the National Bank Note era (1863-1935). The First National Bank of La Fargeville 1929 $20 note shown below is one of just four notes known from this bank, which issued a mere $36,000 in its short lifespan, according to Heritage Auctions (which is offering the note in May 2024).

Click images to enlarge.

Notes with Serial Number 1 are also of great interest to collectors of world banknotes. This Egypt 1940 10 Piastres is from the Ibrahim Salem Collection, one of the most ambitious groups of world paper money ever assembled. (This note is being offered in a Heritage Auctions sale in April 2024). The Serial Number 1 is attributed regardless of whether there are numerals in the prefix.

Click images to enlarge.

Prices realized from Heritage Auctions of Serial Number 1 notes include:

  • an 1861 $10 Demand Note (Philadelphia) graded PMG 30 Very Fine EPQ that realized $381,785 in August 2014
  • an uncut sheet of Jacksonville, Illinois National Bank Notes ($1, $1, $1 and $2) graded PMG 55 About Uncirculated that realized $144,000 in August 2020
  • a Red Oak, Iowa National Bank Note graded PMG 25 Very Fine that realized $138,000 in September 2008
  • a 1934 $1,000 Federal Reserve Note (San Francisco) graded PMG 25 Very Fine that realized $126,000 in October 2021
  • a Curacao / Dutch Administration 1925 500 Gulden graded PMG 55 About Uncirculated that realized $96,000 in April 2022
  • a Bermuda / British Administration 1941 5 Pounds graded PMG 58 Choice About Uncirculated that realized $57,600 in May 2023
  • a 1976 $2 Federal Reserve Note (San Francisco) graded PMG 58 Choice About Uncirculated that realized $29,900 in May 2009
  • a 2013 $100 Federal Reserve Note (New York) graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ that realized $15,600 in January 2024
  • a Hong Kong 2003 1,000 Dollars graded PMG 63 Choice Uncirculated EPQ that realized $12,925 in September 2013
  • a 1977 $1 Federal Reserve Note (St. Louis) graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ that realized $11,162 in April 2015

PMG, an independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group® (CCG®), has certified many exciting fancy serial number notes, including a Singapore Serial Number 1 that realized about $400,000 in a November 2018 sale. You can watch videos about fancy serial numbers, including the one below on Low Serial Numbers, on PMG's YouTube channel.

Collectors and dealers with fancy serial numbers can submit them to PMG for certification and attribution under an applicable grading tier. All fancy serial number banknotes must be submitted on a separate submission form. There is no additional fee for this service.

Other PMG columns:

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