Collection of Old Currency Found in Desk
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7 posts in this topic

Hello everyone. I'm totally new to antique paper currency because I just recently fell into it by accident.

My parents inherited a very old, heavy wooden desk from a relative a while back, and they discovered a wad of older foreign currency in it. After having done some basic research into the collection's potential value, I'm pretty sure someone was collecting these pieces and didn't acquire them in their travels. Most of the bills do not appear to have a substantial value, but it appears that some of them may be worth grading at some point, but I'm having trouble deciding.

There are Chinese Fens from 1938-1940 when China was occupied by Japan. (7) 1 Fen, (3) 10 Fen, and (3) 20 Fen bills. These are in excellent condition, possibly as high as a 60 in grade, but appear to be worth very little.

There is a 1911 (Series DZ) Banco de Sonora 5 Pesos note that is in fairly good condition, though with four folds.

A Siberian/Russian 50 Kopeks note that is also in very good condition with only one fold.

A 1940 Banque de L'algerie 50 Francs note with only one fold. Still fairly crisp.

A 1938-9 Federal Reserve Bank of China 1 Yuan note that is in fine condition, only one fold.

And then there is some potentially more valuable currency that I think might be worth having PMG assess:

A 1938 Federal Reserve Bank of China 1 Dollar note that is in fine condition with only one fold but has slightly ragged edges. At a grade 20, it would be worth about $175. So it might be worth the expense to get it assessed but only if it is genuinely close to that grade.

A 1938 Federal Reserve Bank of China 10 Dollar note in similar condition to the 1 Dollar note. At a grade 20, it would be worth about $600.

And a 1938-1940 Orange signature Sheehan/MacFarlane Commonwealth of Australia 10 Shillings note that would be worth about $350 at a grade 20, though it could be worth as much as $3500 if it closed in upon a grade 60. It has only one fold and has a bit of crispness, but it seems a bit worn and wrinkly to me. Still has good clarity though.

I'm so new at this I don't know if my meager assessment skills are totally off, or if these bills are in better condition or worse condition than I imagine. If the bills were worse than grade 20, I don't think it would be worth the expense getting them graded. If they're considered better than a 20, then it would seem definitely worth it. Is there any way to tell from the attached photos if they're definitely worth getting graded? The bills were scanned in at high resolution on a flat bed scanner.

Thank you for your help.

Michael

1938-9 Commonwealth of Australia-10 Shillings.jpg

Federal Reserve Bank of China-10 Dollars.jpg

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Those are some very cool looking notes! Especially like the FRBC notes.

I think you're pretty spot on with your assessment of the notes, I think 20 +/- is not to far off for all three. All have lots of creasing, folds, paper loss and heavy soiling. It's very difficult to tell condition based solely on pictures but I would say the FRBC's are below 20 and the CA note is right at 20 or just below. For comparison here is a CA 10 Shillings note grade 30 and it looks to be in better shape with less creasing, soiling and paper loss. I would probably just put them in a nice holder and/or album and hang on to them for now. FYI, there are known counterfeits of the FRBC notes but yours look to be the real deal. Print quality is the first thing to look for and yours look good to me.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks Fenntucky Mike! That really helps. I suspect that one thing that would be hard to replicate in the FRBC bills are the fine multi-colored 'hairs' that appear throughout the paper in the bills.

Here's the Banque de L'Algerie bill, which is really beautiful like a tiny work of art. It's not worth much, but it's pretty. One weird detail about it is that it's dated 1940, but I cannot find any listings of a 1940 bill, just 1938-39 or 1942. Not sure if that makes it rarer. But in any case, it's probably in the best condition of any of these bills other than the Chinese Fens.

Michael

1940 Banque de L'Algerie-50 Francs.jpg

1940 Banque de L'Algerie-50 Francs-Detail.jpg

Edited by Michael Scott Phillips
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1 hour ago, Michael Scott Phillips said:

I suspect that one thing that would be hard to replicate in the FRBC bills are the fine multi-colored 'hairs' that appear throughout the paper in the bills.

There are many ways around that. An example would be to take a lower denomination bill soak it in a solution to remove the ink then reprint a higher denomination on the paper. Viola! Security fibers and flakes of mica were some of the very first security features. 

1 hour ago, Michael Scott Phillips said:

Here's the Banque de L'Algerie bill, which is really beautiful like a tiny work of art. It's not worth much, but it's pretty. One weird detail about it is that it's dated 1940, but I cannot find any listings of a 1940 bill, just 1938-39 or 1942. Not sure if that makes it rarer. But in any case, it's probably in the best condition of any of these bills other than the Chinese Fens.

It's a beauty! Looks like it has nice bright colors and not nearly in as bad of shape as the others. Some banknotes are works of art, it's one of the main reasons I really enjoy collecting them. I don't think the 1940 is rare, I took a look around and I see a few listing of those notes dated 1940. It's probably a little more rare than the 1942 - 45 series notes of the same design. Most world notes aren't worth much unless they are in pristine condition and/or are a rarity. I wouldn't necessarily give up on the FRBCs, Chinese notes are one of the exceptions when colleting world notes. There is a huge collector base and they are crazy about serial numbers. While your notes aren't in great shape and don't have fancy numbers they may have what are considered "lucky" numbers in China. If you do a little research into that if may prove fruitful. FYI, there are also unlucky numbers, you don't want those.

All awesome notes, keep them coming.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks! I'll look into the lucky numbers thing.

This One Yuan Chinese bill has an interesting history. Apparently, during the Japanese occupation of China from 1938-1940, the Chinese put subtle (or maybe not-so subtle) f-you gestures into their currency in order to stick it to the Japanese. You can see Confucius here is performing a rude gesture with his fingers.

However, some of these Chinese Fens, which were produced during the same time confuse me a bit. Their style seems more Japanese somehow, very tiny and very neat and orderly, without any of the iconography of China. I wonder if they were printed for Taiwan possibly. It's a bit confusing because there's almost no information on them at all. To me, they look like beautiful Japanese Monopoly money!

Michael

Federal Reserve Bank of China-1 Yuan-$15+.jpg

Federal Reserve Bank of China-1 Yuan-Detail.jpg

Reformed Government of the Republic of China-20 Fen-Grade 60-$8+.jpg

Reformed Government of the Republic of China-20 Fen-Grade 60-Detail.jpg

Edited by Michael Scott Phillips
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18 hours ago, Michael Scott Phillips said:

Thanks! I'll look into the lucky numbers thing.

This One Yuan Chinese bill has an interesting history. Apparently, during the Japanese occupation of China from 1938-1940, the Chinese put subtle (or maybe not-so subtle) f-you gestures into their currency in order to stick it to the Japanese. You can see Confucius here is performing a rude gesture with his fingers.

However, some of these Chinese Fens, which were produced during the same time confuse me a bit. Their style seems more Japanese somehow, very tiny and very neat and orderly, without any of the iconography of China. I wonder if they were printed for Taiwan possibly. It's a bit confusing because there's almost no information on them at all. To me, they look like beautiful Japanese Monopoly money!

Michael

Federal Reserve Bank of China-1 Yuan-$15+.jpg

Federal Reserve Bank of China-1 Yuan-Detail.jpg

Reformed Government of the Republic of China-20 Fen-Grade 60-$8+.jpg

Reformed Government of the Republic of China-20 Fen-Grade 60-Detail.jpg

LOL, I remember reading something about Confucius's bad behavior on these notes. They are a great series of notes, one that I may look into collecting in the future. Pretty awesome finds in the ol' desk. 

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