The tastes and preferences of National Bank Note collectors can be fickle: some only collect notes from their hometown, others only collect notes from a certain state, while others might only like a certain issue (ie. 1902 Red Seals). The one thing ALL of these collectors have in common is a need for reliable reference information on the existence of all known National Bank Notes, their rarity, recent sale prices, and reported serial number ranges. Without such information, there would be little basis for a note’s market value other than someone’s personal evaluation.
Large Size note lovers have the Martin Gengerke Census, Small Size note lovers have Schwartz and Lindquist’s Standard Guide to Small Size U.S. Paper Money: 1928 to date. What about Nationals? Is there any all-encompassing guide for them?
First Things First – A Brief Look Back
Prior to the dawn of the internet, there were indeed guidebooks for National Bank Note lovers. A few of the paper money hobby’s foremost members took on the enormous task of researching notes issued from every known National Bank, their approximate market value, and population count. These ground-breaking works immediately established a baseline for determining the rarity of certain National Bank Notes as they came to market, and were of immeasurable importance to serious collectors and paper money dealers.
Among those responsible for the most important work in National Bank Note collecting were John Hickman, Louis W. VanBelkum, Melvin Warns, Peter Huntoon, Martin Gengerke, and Don C. Kelly. Of this core group, most National collectors will recognize Mr. Kelly as the author of National Bank Notes, first released in 1981. Since then, Mr. Kelley has produced a total of 6 editions, each containing an exhaustive listing of notes produced for every National Bank, the number of notes known to exist, and their market values. You can purchase Mr. Kelley’s National Bank Notes, sixth edition – click here.
Along the way, the various record keeping efforts of all these gentlemen was aggregated and used extensively by serious collectors, paper money dealers, and major auction houses. Both Heritage Auctions and Lyn Knight Auctions regularly reference Mr. Kelley’s reports and Mr. Gengerke’s census numbers in their lot listings, in addition to other major National Bank Note book authors. Some collectors might also own a copy of National Currency: An Analysis with Values by Robert Liddell and William Litt, a compendium of National Bank Note information similar to Mr. Kelley’s cornerstone work.
For years, these authors and National Bank Note experts diligently updated their record keeping, wrote articles for various paper money publications, and amassed substantial National Bank Note collections of their own.
Then, along came the internet…and with it, new possibilities for putting all of this important information together for everyone to use.
NBNCensus.com – The Best Online Resource for National Bank Notes
The internet as we know it and its vast potential for collecting, sharing, and distributing information is one of the most remarkable human innovations in the last 20 years. The original “internet” was created by various university and government agencies beginning with the first computers created in the 1950s. Later, the basic concept of email was invented by DARPA in 1962. Slowly, as computers became mass marketed and people began to realize the promise of a new online universe, the modern internet was born.
Andrew Shiva rightly saw a perfect opportunity to organize all known information about National Bank Notes into one comprehensive, authoritative website. Mr. Shiva is the creator of NBNCensus.com, an online guide for National Bank Note collectors, paper money dealers, and collectible retailers. It represents the culmination of all the work initiated by Mr. Kelley, Mr. Gengerke, and others many decades ago, with the additional benefit of being conveniently located at your nearest internet connection for a very reasonable annual fee.
According to NBNCenus.com’s About Us Page:
The National Bank Note Census (NBNC) promises to be the most comprehensive resource ever created for collectors, dealers, and researchers of national bank notes. This all-encompassing census combines the data of both Don Kelly and Martin Gengerke into a single fully searchable database. In addition, the Van Belkum data (revised, corrected, and updated by Peter Huntoon) is available in a searchable bank title and note issuance database. With over 350,000 bank note records, this fully searchable database incorporates the work of four pioneers in national bank note research.
Additionally, Mr. Shiva matched up extensive sales data from major auction houses and leading National Bank Note sellers to all the notes in his online census. That means you can view how the market value of a particular note has changed over the years as it hit the auction block. Graphs are included along with the venue where the note sold.
If you haven’t visited NBNCensus.com, you should definitely have a look. It’s amazing tool for National Bank Note fanatics and a great source of numismatic information!
PaperMoneyAuction.com received no compensation for writing this article, reviewing NBNCensus.com, or providing links to various National Bank Note resources. It will NOT be compensated if someone reading this page purchases a product from any National Bank Note reference seller. This article is meant to act as a source of information and personal endorsement of a great paper money website.