Tag Archives: Banknotes

Top 5 Most Valuable US Banknotes

While we’ve talked about some of the most valuable coins and some of the most sought after pennies, one thing that hasn’t crossed our blog yet, is what are the top 5 most valuable US bank notes. These are the MVPs of collectible bank notes, and some versions of them are even sitting in museums. Curious? Read on…

No. 5 – 1918 Alexander Hamilton $1000 Banknote

The first banknote on our list made it’s acting debut on an episode of Pawn Stars. Valued at a cool $7,000 on the episode, the reason why this rarity was valued so low is because there are so many of them known to still exist in comparison to the others on this list. 150 copies of this bill are known to still exist. However, depending on serial number and date issued, they can go for almost ten times the face value of the bill!

No.4 – 1928 $50 Gold Certificate

This gold certificate holds almost the same mythical collecting status as the Saint Gauden’s Double Eagle. Only a dozen of the $50 gold certificates survived in collector’s hands after FDR’s famous gold recall in 1933. The most recent one that came up for auction sold for over $120,000. Not too bad of a return for a bill that was technically illegal to own until the 1970s.

No.3 – 1882 $500 Gold Certificate

This banknote was one of the first banknotes printed in the US and was part of one of the craziest discoveries of old banknotes that I’ve heard of. The note was discovered after the execution of a turn of the century banker’s will which lead to the discovery of the near mint collection of bank notes, with notes (including this one) dating back to the civil war. Crazy how these bills survived 130 years in mint condition stuffed at the back of a cash drawer. After going to auction, this certificate sold for $2.7 million. Not surprising since the only other known to exist is in the Federal Reserve exhibit in the Smithsonian.

No.2 – 1891 Red Seal $1000 Banknote

This banknote, like the gold certificate listed above is another one of the lottery level rarities in banknote collecting since only two are known to exist and the last time one came up for auction was in 1944. This banknote previously held the record of highest value sold at auction when it was sold at $2.5 million. The only other banknote to sell higher than this is the one listed at No. 1 on our list.

No.1 – 1890 Grand Watermelon Bill

Now, I know, how can you take a banknote known as the grand watermelon seriously. But don’t mistake the funny name for something that isn’t a serious collector’s item. The name of the bill comes from the design and denomination of the bill. It’s actually a $1,000 bill. The watermelon nickname came from the design on the bill showing green and white striping on the denomination along with the curvature of the numbers make them look like watermelons. The last time this went up for auction back in 2013, it sold for an easy $3.2 million.

Well, there you have it, as you can see, US currency is a very popular collectors item and while these might be some of the most valuable collector’s items, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other great collectibles to gain. If you’re curious, check out some of the great collectible banknotes, foreign and domestic, that we have in stock!



Foreign Banknotes: Are they Collectibles?

While the US has a wide selection of collectible banknotes. However, there are other historical banknotes from countries around the world that are just as collectible, some by value, some by history behind the note’s country of origin. Here are just a few examples of a very wide expanse of collectible world banknotes.

The Djibouti Franc

Djibouti 100 Franc Banknote

Djibouti 100 Franc Banknote






Our first example comes from the Horn of Africa. The Djiboutian Franc has been around since the late 19th century. When the French Somaliland protectorate was established the French franc had begun being circulated in Djibouti along with other coin currencies. The first banknotes weren’t introduced until almost 30 years later. They were issued in denominations of 5, 20 and 100 franc notes. Since then little has changed in the currency outside of the introduction of higher denominations.

The Indonesian Rupiah

Republic of Indonesia Rupiah 1945

Indonesian Rupiah from 1945

50000 Indonesian Rupiah 2013

The Indonesian Rupiah today






Our next example comes from indochina. The indonesian rupiah has had a roller-coaster ride throughout history. The first rupiah was issued by the Republic of Java in 1946 after World War II as an act of defiance against the Dutch who had originally had the “Dutch East Indies” as a colony before the war. After some diplomatic follies by the Dutch, the Dutch currency had been outlawed by the republican interior of Indonesia. Instead, Java had begun printing their own currency known as the Rupiah. The Rupiah has had a very tumultuous history since its inception, which included serious inflation during the Asian finincial crisis in 1997-98 where it saw its value drop by 80%. Today, the modern Rupiah is a collectible for currency collectors and ETF prospectors. You can see our collection of Indonesian Rupiah here.

The Vietnamese Dong

Vietnamese Dong in 1951

Vietnamese Dong in 1951

100000 Vietnames Dong in 2013

The Vietnamese Dong Today






The Vietnamese Dong is another foreign currency that has seen its own roller-coaster ride for the currency. When Vietnam was split into two countries, both the North and South Vietnam had their own form of the Dong. In North Vietnam, the Viet Minh government issued the Dong as a replacement of the French Indochinese colonial currency. The south followed suit in 1953 by issuing currency with the same name. In 1978, when the country was reunified, the currency was as well. Today, the original cotton notes used by the Vietnamese have been replaced with a plastic polymer banknote. We have a variety of these collector’s notes available here.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on .