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Paper money collecting as a hobby


Banknote collecting, or Notaphily, is a rapidly growing area of numismatics. Although generally not as widespread as coin and stamp collecting, the hobby is increasingly expanding. Prior to the 1990s, currency collecting was a relatively small adjunct to coin collecting, but the practice of currency auctions, combined with larger public awareness of paper money have caused a boom in interest and values of rare banknotes.



In the 1950s, Robert Friedberg published the landmark book Paper Money of the United States. Friedberg devised an organizing number system of all types of U.S. banknotes; the system is widely accepted among collectors and dealers to this day, and the volume has been regularly updated.

Another pioneer of cataloguing banknotes was Albert Pick, a well-known German notaphilist (born 15 May 1922 in Cologne) who published a number of catalogs of European paper money, and, in 1974, the first Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. His collection of over 180,000 banknotes was eventually housed at the Bavarian Mortgages and Exchange Bank (Bayerischen Hypotheken- und Wechselbank, now HypoVereinsbank). This catalog underwent several incarnations, and currently is published as a three volume group. Volume I, called Specialized Issues, includes notes issued by local authorities, which circulated in a limited area. Volume II called General Issues covers notes issued on a national scope, dated 1368 through 1960. Volume III covers Modern Issues dated 1960 to present. Each of the volumes is updated regularly, with Volume III now updated every year, Volumes I and II every 3 or so years. While Pick no longer edits the catalogs (since 1994 the honor has passed to George S. Cuhaj), the catalogs are still commonly referred to as 'Pick Catalogs' and dealers and collectors alike refer to banknotes by their 'Pick number.' Current issues of the three volumes include:



Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: Specialized Issues (10th Ed. Vol. 1) by George S. Cuhaj. Paperback - 1200 pages. (January 2006).
Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: General Issues to 1368-1960 (11th Ed. Vol. 2) by George S. Cuhaj (Editor). (December 2006).
Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: Modern Issues, 1961-present (12th Ed. Vol. 3) by George S. Cuhaj. (May 2006).
For years, the mode of collecting banknotes was through a handful of mail order dealers who issued price lists and catalogs. In the early 1990s, it became more common for rare notes to be sold at various coin and currency shows via auction. The illustrated catalogs and "event nature" of the auction practice seemed to fuel a sharp rise in overall awareness of paper money in the numismatic community. Entire advanced collections are often sold at one time, and to this day single auctions can generate well in excess of $1 million dollars in gross sales. Today, eBay has surpassed auctions in terms of highest volume of sales of banknotes. However, as of 2005, rare banknotes still sell for much less than comparable rare coins. There is wide consensus in the paper money collecting arena that this disparity is diminishing as paper money prices continue to rise at a rapid rate.

There are many different organisations and societies around the world for the hobby including the International Bank Note Society (IBNS).

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