Despite the rise of card and online payments, the dollar bill is still used for all sorts of purchases all across the U.S. But in some cases a note’s value might be far higher than the number in the corner indicates. In fact, some people are discovering that their humble dollar bill is worth thousands of dollars.
Most of us are aware, of course, of the hobby of coin collecting. In essence, this pastime sees collectors search for coins that are somehow unique or different. But what is less widely known is that collectors also look at bills of all denominations, too.
After all, currency can become valuable to collectors for a variety of reasons. For instance, when determining the value of a coin, collectors might look at the year that it was minted. In other cases, there might be an interesting story surrounding a type of coin that makes it valuable.
As an example, the 1804 Bust Dollar is highly sought after because of its backstory. To wit, in 1834 the U.S. government wanted to give a selection of coins away as gifts to foreign rulers. So these coins were created specially and dated 1804, making them very rare.
Naturally, then, the reason that some dollar bills have become worth so much is because they are different in some way as well. Consequently, it might be an idea to check the dollar bills in your pocket. You never know, one of them could have a distinctive feature that’s sought after by collectors. So, with that in mind, here are several things to look for.
When trying to determine the secret value of your ordinary dollar bill, you first need to check the serial number printed on it. This eight-digit number is what sets one bill apart from another. For instance, low serial numbers are likely to be of interest to collectors.
A website has even been set up to cater specifically to collectors searching for unique or special serial numbers on bills. Called CoolSerialNumbers.com, it has facilitated many sales. In fact, there have been instances of one-dollar bills being sold for $2,500.
The place to start, then, is by checking for a very low serial number, something like 00000001. As long as the number is under 00000100, it is considered low and would probably be snapped up by a collector quickly.
On the other hand, a dollar bill with a very high serial number is also likely to draw bids from collectors. If the bill in your hand has a serial number of at least 99999900, for instance, it’s probably as sought after as a lower number. Some argue that it’s potentially even more valuable, in fact, as there are a lower number of bills with higher serial numbers.
Collectors also prize a type of serial number known as a “solid.” This is when the numbers are all the same, such as 33333333, and can each be worth as much as $500 to the right person. Furthermore, collectors are likely to buy a bill with a serial number that is almost solid or where one digit is different.
There are also some serial number combinations that can make smaller amounts of money. These includes types such as “ladders,” “radars” and “super radars.” This last combination occurs when identical first and last digits bookend the same number, such as 35555553, and they can apparently each be worth $70 or more.
Dollar-bill collectors might also be on the lookout for a personal serial number that’s meaningful to them. Indeed, there have been instances of collectors searching for serial numbers that act as birthdates. So, a number such as 19101991 could be valuable – but perhaps only to one person.
The owner of CoolSerialNumbers.com, Dave Undis, has also stated on the website that quirks or interesting numbers will attract bids. He used the example of a serial number that signified pi: 31415927. Potentially attractive to the mathematicians out there, it’s the kind of number that could result in big money offers.
Yet another example of a sought-after bill was one with the serial number 07041776. Why should these digits be so valuable to a collector? It’s because the number represents the date when it is commonly believed the founders of the United States signed the Declaration of Independence.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, CoolSerialNumbers.com has an avid fanbase and attracts thousands of visitors. And considering the versatility of eight digit numbers, there’s often a market for all kinds of bills. That being said, sometimes you might have to settle for $5 instead of $5,000.
Moreover, it isn’t just dollar bills that budding collectors should examine. If you want to attract a major sale and make some extra money, keep an eye out for certain $100 bills. One in particular, a redesigned $100 from 2013, could potentially sell for around $15,000 to the right bidder.
And one of the most famous and rare bills is the 1918 Alexander Hamilton $1,000 bill, which is worth approximately $9,000 to private collectors. In addition, there are two other bills in the series – a $5,000 and a $10,000 note – but these are so rare that they’re kept in museums.
As the Alexander Hamilton bill shows, for older banknotes it might not be their serial numbers but rather their historical significance that confers value. The £1 million note from the U.K. is one such bill. It is famous because it was printed as part of the Marshall Plan following World War II.
Staying with the U.K., a redesign in the £5 note in 2016 spurred greater interest in collectable bills. In this case, it was the serial numbers again that made them of interest. Some of these banknotes resultantly sold for thousands of pounds to interested buyers, although there were also instances of non-payment.
Yes, one seller with a rare £5 note thought that he’d hit the jackpot when he sold a bill on eBay for more than $100,000. However, there is no rule that compels a buyer to actually complete the transaction on eBay, and the seller never received the windfall that he thought he was being paid.