Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cash "n" carry - Paper Money Collector Ron Wise in the News

By John Bordsen
Travel Editor
Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008

Ron Wise truly loves money. He collects currency and has more than 10,000 bills in his personal collection.

And he shares his paper money, and bills owned by others, on the World Paper Money Homepage ( Its “banknotes” link will lead you to images of more than 16,000 pieces of paper money from around the world. It is the official online image gallery for the International Banknote Society.

Wise, 53, is an administrative assistant at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He began collecting cash in 1980.

His most rare bill? “Probably a test note produced for the U.S. military for use in Vietnam. There are only 11 known examples of it in private hands. I saw that one bill sold for about $3,500.”

What's the appeal?

Foreign bills are little pieces of bona fide “elsewhere” you can hold.

They're colorful and interesting, and every denomination is a little bit different.

Bank notes require less special handling than coins. You don't need to worry about getting fingerprints on bills.

They're easy to store and don't take much space: 1,000 bills may fit comfortably in a shoebox.

Is this legal?

Most countries are not concerned about cash leaving their land unless you're involved with dealer-size quantities. Tourists come and go with small amounts of bills.

Box 'em, book 'em or mount 'em

Store individual notes in PVC-free (“archive quality”) plastic holders (they'll fit into a shoebox) or sheets (for ring binders).

Keep them in an environment with low and fairly stable humidity. Humidity can damage a note quite quickly.

“I haven't really had much of a problem with light exposure,” Wise says, “but as with any printed product, it will eventually affect the color of the note somewhat.”

If you frame and hang them: “Keep them out of direct sunlight. I've seen offices where bank notes are framed on walls, and I've seen no ill effect from general office lighting or indirect daylight. For your frame, you may want to use a pane of glass that filters out UV rays.”

Bringing bills safely home

Wise: “If you have a hardcover book, placing the bills between pages would be good way to protect them, short-term. “Or put them in an envelope and then into a magazine that isn't going to be folded. Paper is pretty resilient, but can take only so much of a bend. Try to keep your bill from getting a crease or a fold.”

How can you get these?

Visit the country.

Or when someone you know is planning to go there, ask him or her to buy some bills for you. Or offer to buy their leftover currency when they return home.

Buy the money through the mail from a dealer.

Purchase the bills at a coin and money show.

Are they real?

Counterfeit bills probably aren't much of a problem, but some very sophisticated counterfeiters are out there. Even governments have problems telling what's good and what isn't. In some instances, counterfeit versions can become more valuable to collectors because of their scarcity.

Buying overseas

Foreign bills that you get as change when making a purchase may be worn or dirty. You can buy local currency at foreign airports at the current exchange rate, but you will pay an extra fee. Got a debit/credit card? Use it to buy new, crisp bills at an ATM.

Anatomy of paper money

DIFFERENT SIZES: Many countries vary the size of their bills to make it easier and faster to ID the denominations. U.S. bills are all the same size – a hindrance to anyone who is visually impaired. (One way sight-challenged Americans cope with this is to fold different denominations differently.)

COMPLEXITY OF IMAGE: This serves two purposes, according to Wise. “It makes them more aesthetically pleasing, and the detailing makes bills harder to counterfeit.”

DURABILITY: Most countries' banknotes are as durable as U.S. greenbacks. The linen content in the paper may vary, but an authentic bill will have a unique feel that's harder for counterfeiters to provide.

BORDER: Outer edge of the printed design.

DENOMINATION: Face value of a bill.

FACE: The “front” side of a bill.

BACK: The “reverse” side of a bill.

WATERMARK: Anti-counterfeiting design that can be seen when held up to the light. A security thread is a tiny, embedded strip that serves the same purpose.

1 comment:

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