The new U.S. $100 bills rolled off the presses in October 2013 and for savvy banknote collectors offered a potential goldmine. Where most people would see the 100 in the corner, the real value could be in the small eight digit number about an inch above the denomination. The serial number can be the difference between a normal $100 bill and $15,000 for those who know what to look for. The human minds attraction to patterns plays a large role in the value of the bills. Binary patterns of 1's and 0's are the most sought after serial numbers, and a bill with serial number of 00000001 could be worth up to $15,000.
The first 100 printed are especially valuable and are treated differently according the the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The bills are labeled and split up to different banks so not a single one will have too many valuable low bills. Some banks allow employees to pluck the a bill from the pile and replace it with their own. Vault employees and others working in jobs with close access to money are responsible for starting the collection process. Other valuable serial numbers can be patterns like 43214321, or solid numbers. Different serial numbers attract collectors for many reasons, in America 77777777 bills are popular while in China 88888888 bills are a symbol of good fortune and bought as gifts. One collector has an 07041776 bill, to represent the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and a 09112011 serial number.
Collecting banknotes can be an expensive hobby, and isn't as widely known as coin collecting which is a popular pastime of many. Misprints, are also intriguing and are quite rare because they don't usually make there way into circulation. Rare bills can be the most expensive, especially if they passed through the hands of a well known figure.
8 1918 Alexander Hamilton $1000 bill: $8,000
7 1929 Bank of New Zealand Banknote: $11,500
6 Ming Dynasty Banknote: $60,000
5 1 million pound banknote: $115,000
4 Rare 1924 Australian Banknote: $1.2 Million
3 1882 $500 gold certificate: $2.4 Million
2 1891 Red Seal $1,000 bill: $2.5 Million
1 1890 Grand Watermelon Bill: $3.2 Million
The 1980 Grand Watermelon banknote sold for more than double the previous record for antique currency in 2006 when it was sold but the record was temporarily taken when the 1891 Red Seal bill sold last April. In January, the Grand Watermelon reclaimed its title as the most coveted antique currency when it brought in $3.2 million at an Orlando Auction. The bill is only one of two known to still be around, and it's the only available bill for collectors. The other is at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The red seal Grand Watermelon note got its nickname for the appearance of stripes of green lines in the denomination number making it resemble the pattern of a watermelon.
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