The Journey Continues: The Quest for My Battleship Begins

Posted on 11/22/2011

A PMG grading assistant shares his thoughts on collecting.

During my relatively short time with PMG, the amount of numismatic knowledge I have been able to acquire from the rest of the staff as well as the innumerable dealers and collectors that we serve on a regular basis is nothing short of astounding and – at times – overwhelming. The passion that drives those around me professionally and those that make a living from nothing more than what some may consider a hobby is inspirational to say the least. Under these conditions, I have been able to learn about and examine some of the finest known examples of countless rare and exceptional U.S. and world banknotes.

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There is always – of course – a darker, less obvious side to every story. While my position at PMG affords me the opportunity to enjoy the collections of others, it affords me little time to consider my own collection beyond the occasional, “I must have that note for my collection.” Seeing notes that would serve as the unquestionable “kingpin” for my personal collection practically everyday is simultaneously exciting as well as its own peculiar brand of torture. Although my own particular interests in collecting world currency are somewhat focused if – albeit – general and expansive, my want list for U.S. currency is unabashedly schizophrenic.

Having so little time to pursue my own collection has caused a great deal of reflection on my part. What I have realized is that one note in particular ranks at the top of my own want list is and is one that I have yet to see since starting my employment at PMG. That note is a Series 1918 $2 Federal Reserve Bank note from the Dallas district.

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I would not be able to give you any logical reason regarding why I chose this particular district or this particular note for that matter. Something about the “Battleship” simply struck me early on and it has haunted the brief moments I have to contemplate my own collection since. I have not allowed myself to entertain the absurd notion as to seriously pursue the Fr. #776★ for my own collection as only one is known to currently exist. Still, the other two remaining options (the Fr. #776 & #777) seem to be considerably more elusive than the price table in Paper Money of the United States suggest. While I have seen several “Battleships” from the Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Chicago districts, the remaining districts not listed seem to be far more difficult to pin down.

This observation is, of course, tempered by the limited amount of time I have to look beyond what is sent to PMG and by the geographic challenges involved in the collecting of these kinds of notes (in many ways very similar to that of collecting Nationals). A quick glance on Track & Price reveals that both the Fr. #776 & 777 host recent auction results similar to those of districts I would consider to be somewhat more “common.” Dallas “Battleships” are – apparently – still relatively affordable in presentable condition despite their noticeable scarcity to this collector.

It is from these observations and reflections that I have decided to engage in something of a quest in the hopes of rescuing my own collection from the doldrums of inactivity and the unimaginable envy created by the opportunity to work at PMG for which I would trade absolutely nothing. As with many things in the realm of numismatics, specificity and the general condition of the note are key components of my quest. For reasons that – as mentioned above – I simply could not express, nothing but a Dallas “Battleship” will do. Additionally, the condition of the note I seek could prove to be somewhat problematic as a perfect specimen is beyond my means and the overwhelming quality I have come to expect from the notes submitted to PMG has tainted my perception of numismatic reality to the point of no return. Rags need not apply. Bearing this in mind, a note with strong eye-appeal in the Fine to Very Fine range would do much to satiate my collecting appetite.

As with many good stories, there must – ultimately – be an ending. This is something that I cannot provide at the present as my journey to find my Dallas “Battleship” has only just begun. Perhaps in the near future I will have some time to wander into the wilderness and find my prize hidden away in a shop or at a show table not far from here. Until then however, I suppose I must begin my search in this way: H8. Miss.

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