19 September 2013

Valuable serial numbers on currency

Excerpts from an interesting article at Boston.com:
Currency collectors pay handsomely for what they call “fancy” serial numbers—digits that they perceive as unusual or special...

The simplest fancy numbers are the early ones: The redesigned $100 note with serial number 00000001 is likely to fetch $10,000 to $15,000, according to Dustin Johnston, director of currency for Heritage Auctions in Dallas. A $20 bill that was first off the press in a 2009 run sold in April for $5,581. A $2 bill numbered 0000001 with a star—the star means it replaced a misprinted note with the same number—sold in May 2009 for $29,900...

In addition to the “low numbers,” which stop at 100, there are “ladders,” which have numbers in sequence, such as 12345678 or 54321098. These sell for as much as $1,300. A “radar” (selling for $20 to $40) is a palindrome, such as 35299253, and “repeaters” are notes with two blocks of the same four digits, like 41884188. Undis observes subcategories of each of these, such as “super radars” ($75 to $100) that have all internal digits the same, like 46666664...

Undis says he got started looking for serial numbers about 30 years ago, when he found a note that had nothing but 3’s and 8’s. He is now trying to find the last nine notes in a set of all 254 serial numbers consisting solely of 1’s and 0’s (“binaries”).

“Solids” are numbers consisting of all one digit, such as 22222222. “Solids are popular with Asian collectors,” Johnston says. “Solid 8’s in particular, because the number 8 means good fortune,” and collectors will pay as much as $3,000 for one to give to friends or relatives as framed presents. “The number 4 sounds like ‘death,’” Johnston says, “but I can’t think of anyone giving solid 4’s to an enemy.” Americans like 77777777’s, and a solid-7 $20 sold in 2009 for $528.
For those of you who just peeked in your wallet, the relevant eBay category for selling your windfall is here.


  1. Shouldn't there be 255 binary serial numbers? Presumably 00000000 isn't made, but shouldn't all the other possibilities occur?

    1. From the link:
      The print runs don’t always start with 00000001—in the first six months of this year, only 11 “00000001” notes have been printed in any denomination


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