The USA paper money hobby is full of well established rare notes. These trophy notes power the top end of the market, catering to elite collectors and investors looking for a chance to own something unique. Buying a truly “rare” note in USA paper money usually means making at least a $10,000 investment. Unfortunately, not every collector can afford to shell out this amount of cash.
That doesn’t mean there are no worthwhile affordable notes: it just means that one will have to be more discerning with respect to the notes one buys. Purchasing a less common note in some ways might be more challenging than purchasing a truly rare note, because anyone can flip through an auction catalog and pick the highest priced item given that money is no option. Sorting out and analyzing notes that will eventually gain value is something of an art and science, requiring not only an eye for spotting good deals, but also solid knowledge of the hobby that comes from years of experience and research.
eBay.com is one of the most active places for people to buy United States currency. This popular online auction house has hundreds of notes up for sale every day. Rarity runs the gamut of very common to unique notes offered by some of the top dealers in the world. Most notes are priced and described accurately given their condition and census numbers. Other times, however, some notes are unnecessarily touted as “rare” and valuable when in reality they are quite common and inexpensive.
The classic “case of misrepresentation” is owned by the 1963-B $1 Federal Reserve Note Fr. 1902 with signatures of Granahan and Barr. Newbies to the hobby often get led astray regarding the value of this bill because they are told that Joseph Barr only served for a few short months before he was replaced by the next Secretary of the Treasury, David Kennedy. Most assume that notes with Barr’s signature are therefore very rare and command a high premium. Some collectors who find a Barr note in their change sometimes overreact and believe they have one of the rarer notes produced in the last 50 years. Sadly, the numbers reveal a much different story.
As it turns out, $1 Dollar bills with Barr’s signature are relatively common, in some cases more than notes from other Secretaries of the Treasury that served a full term. Here are the production numbers for this note from the Friedberg Paper Money of the United States:
$1 1963B Federal Reserve Note
Fr. 1902-B New York – 123,040,000
Fr. 1902-B* New York Stars – 3,680,000
Fr. 1902-E Richmond – 93,600,000
Fr. 1902-E* Richmond Stars – 3,200,000
Fr. 1902-G Chicago – 91,040,000
Fr. 1902-G* Chicago Stars – 2,400,000
Fr. 1902-J Kansas City – 44,800,000
(No Kansas City Stars Produced)
Fr. 1902-L San Francisco – 106,400,000
Fr. 1902-L* San Francisco Stars – 3,040,000
Total Regular and Star Notes: 471,200,000
Total Star Notes Only: 12,320,000
Given these numbers and the fact that the notes were only produced some 46 years ago, the $1 Barr note is in fact quite common. According to the Friedberg guide, an uncirculated note shouldn’t cost you more than $6-$7. Uncirculated star notes should go for no more than $14-$15. In reality, the prices that grace eBay.com should be even lower than these values. If you see an uncirculated Barr star note listed above $20, make your way to the next auction lot because that price is way too high!
In this case, knowledge is power, and it can save you money. Don’t be fooled by Johnny-come-lately dealers selling these notes as *Rare* or *Uncommon*. Instead, save your hard earned money for a Barr note with a more respectable price. Notes should only earn superlative descriptions when they are indeed valuable and worth more than at least $1,000.
Good luck and keep a paper money guide at your side at all times! Better yet, shop at PaperMoneyAuction.com and buy notes from the country’s top dealers!