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Check your change. August 15, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, here today to speak to fellow coin collectors and anybody else who’d like to save or make a little money during these tough economic times. As money gets tighter and tighter, people are dipping into their reserves. Or, say, their grandpa’s reserves. And that can mean hidden bonuses for you if you keep your eyes open.

What am I talking about? Let’s picture this scenario: Grandpa’s gone to the assisted-care facility, and Sonny’s trying to clean up his place. Sonny stumbles on a jar full of quarters. Money! Sonny’s not trying to rob Grandpa or anything, he just knows his old granddad doesn’t need these quarters in his new home but he, Sonny, could sure use some spare change. So he takes the jar back to his place and pours out a handful every now and then when he needs the change. What he doesn’t realize is that those quarters he’s dumping in the Coke machine are pre-1965 silver quarters that are worth a couple of dollars to over $70 apiece.

I was forcibly reminded of all this the other day when I was pulling out some dollar bills to pay for a purchase and saw that they had blue, not green, seals. Blue seals used to be a sign of silver certificates, back in the days when paper money meant something and you could redeem it for the equivalent in silver. Geez, had the government decided to change the color of its seals again? Nope. Turns out, those crisp, pristine bills were 1957 silver certificates that had somehow made their way back into circulation.

Are these bills worth a fortune? No. In the collectors’ market, the 1957s will bring from $3 to $15 or so, depending on condition and signatures. but that’s more than $1, right? And older $1 silver-certificate bills can be worth as much as—you’re reading this right—$55,000 each.

So my point is, it’s worth keeping an eye on your change and bills. When times get tough, you never know what’s going to end up in your pocket!

              —R.S.

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Comments»

1. Cinj - August 16, 2009

I found some 1930’s (I think?) $5 bills. They’re really cool. I wonder how much they’d be worth…

Hi Cinj! What a wonderful find! My only guide to U.S. paper money came out in 2006, which means prices are probably higher now, so consider these to be baseline. For circulated $5 bills from the ’30s in good condition, values given range from $8.50 to $125, depending on the signatures and series numbers. I wonder if you can find current price guides online—it would certainly be worth looking around. Good luck!

2. Alan from Roberts Roost - August 16, 2009

I had a $20 gold certificate show up in my money box at a yard sale once. Payed my rent with it. Probably got ripped off, but $20 for rent for a month on a $600.00 apartment seemed like a pretty good deal at the time. We had the yard sale to raise money to pay the rent, so we did pretty well.

Wow!!!!!!! Wish I’d been there to steal, I mean, see that!


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