How to Find the Value of Old US Paper Money

Old Federal Reserve notes, gold and silver certificates may have collector’s value greater than their face value.

Old paper currencies from the United States may hold numismatic value in excess of their legal tender or face value. US old currency is collected for hobby and by investors for value appreciation. The value of old paper money greatly depends on grading as determined by condition, on rarity and their historical context. Old paper money from the United States is one of the most desirable and collectible worldwide.

Old US Paper Money

The Federal Reserve Bank’s exhibit of old paper money presents the currency of the US from the oldest government backed notes to current notes and bills. This is a list of the general types of US paper money.

  • Paper money issued by the original 13 colonies – from 1771 to 1786
  • Old Currency issued by the earliest banks in the USA – from 1792 to 1862
  • Civil War Confederate Currency – from 1861 to 1876
  • Industrial Revolution Bank Notes – from 1862 – 1923
  • Treasury Notes, Silver and Gold Certificates – from 1890 to 1923
  • National Stability Notes – from 1914 to 1970
  • Current Federal Reserve Notes – from 1934 – present

Highly Collectible US Paper Money

Much of the old US currency are worth more than face values, while others are not worth much more. The rarity status of the paper money highly influences values. The following are some of the most desirable US paper currencies. These old currencies often sell at a premium above face value depending on condition:

  • Gold Certificates – 1928 certificates in the $50, $100, $500 and $1,000 denominations
    National Bank Notes or Federal Reserve Bank Notes – these were called National Currency, have the treasury seal and the Federal Reserve Bank name.
  • Large Size Notes issued before 1928
  • Legal Tender $1 paper dollar issued in 1862
  • Silver dollar from 1899
  • Five dollar bill from 1907
  • Confederate paper money
  • Original $1,000 from the Bank of the United States in 1840
  • Grading of Old US Currencies

The grading of old paper money has a technical and an appeal component. Grading is not a hard science but its more like an art which experts with experience can comfortably perform. Appraising old paper money requires an expert who looks for factors such as circulated vs. non circulated money; folds and wrinkles on the paper currency. Same currencies may command different values depending on grading results.

Determining Value of Old US Bank Notes and Bills
Methods for valuing old US money include; numismatic guides, associations and antique currency dealers. These values vary depending on paper conditions, market trends, collectors appeal and rarity. Individuals who may own a rare old US paper currency should consult an expert to find out its worth.

Numismatic books and guides – These are of some guides for finding old money values.

The standard catalog of United States paper money

The early paper money of America

US coins and currencies

Confederate states paper money

Numismatic associations – the ANA, American Numismatic Association provides a coins and currency grading service for a fee.

Online currency dealers – many online currency auction houses and independent dealers offer grading and appraisal values for old US paper money. Some online currency auction businesses provide historical prices for items recently sold. eBay is another source of historical prices for old bills and notes sold through sellers’ auctions.