As with most any collectable; one of,
if not the single most important aspect of a note's desirability, potential
for increase in value and an indicator of it's current value is it's
grade or condition. Much has been written, discussed and bantered about
with regard to this subject, as most collectors desire to obtain the
highest grade example of any given note as is possible; whether it be
a Confederate, Obsolete or any other given note.
TO GRADE IT; YOU MUST BE ABLE TO SEE IT!
Many web sites offer good scans of the material they offer for sale. Some do not scan the back of a note; which makes it totally impossible for you to see and grade the note for yourself. It is totally and completely impossible to get a "feel" for what the note may grade by looking at the front only. In the alternative, ask for a reverse scan of any note you are considering purchasing. Most dealers and owners of these web sites will gladly provide one upon request. Scans produced for this web site are as sharp and clear as any you will see. Many times, this will make a given note look worse than it really is; as paper imperfections or the like which cannot be seen with the human eye will appear. The color may seem distorted. The trim may seem to be a bit "off". A scan can give the appearance that the note is trimmed a bit poorly; whereas, if one was actually holding the note, it would not be noticeable. A note which looks good in a scan on this web site will blow you away when you actually see it. If you cannot read the printer or engraver's name on a note presented upon any given web site; you can not see what you need to see!
The grading discrepancies which exist
in the current market are broad; wherein one person's "Very Fine"
may in reality only grade "Fine". You may rest assured that
purchasing a note at a Very Fine price which actually grades Fine is no
bargain. To utilize the current Confederate note arena as an example;
the above difference in assigned grade may represent hundreds or even
thousands of dollars with regard to an ever growing number of issues.
As more collectors enter the market; given the limited supply of many
CSA issues, the temptation is strong to "nudge" a given note
upward one-half or even a whole grade.
This is not to say that most dealers over grade.... such is not the
case. Every dealer we know attempts to honestly and accurately describe
and grade their material. "Grade inflation" is much more pronounced
at some online auction sites than at an actual paper money show.
Grading is not a definitive science. There will always be differences
of opinion as to the proper grade a given note should be assigned; however,
as one's knowledge of proper grading techniques increases, these differences
Unlike coins, wherein the major problem with
grading seems to be located at the high end of the spectrum, most CSA
and obsolete currency grading questions lie within the mid-grade to higher
mid-grade notes, i.e. Fine+ to Extra Fine. While it may be most difficult
to discern the difference in a Mint State-66 and a Mint State-67 Morgan
silver dollar; it certainly isn't difficult to determine if an 1861 Confederate
T-5 is Choice Uncirculated or not. Many factors must be considered
before one decides to purchase a particular note - depending upon the individual collector. Color, clarity, cut (CSA
and other early notes were cut from sheets by hand); body, crispness,
paper quality...aged or toned, and overall wear to name a few. Does
the note have problems? Is it stained, soiled, spotted, frayed, chinked,
torn or filled with pinholes? As the Central Government of the
Confederacy passed legislation from time to time to induce redemption
of various CSA issues; is the the note cancelled, thereby indicating
redemption? If so, is it bank hammer cancelled (CC), punch canceled
(PC), hole out cancelled (HOC), cut out cancelled (COC) or ink cancelled
(IC)? Individual tastes vary greatly among collectors. In my humble opinion, this is a good thing. While all of us would aspire to have only Gem New 66 notes in our collection, it simply isn't possible. Many are happy with Cut Cancelled notes, as the history and appeal of the note itself is satisfaction enough. Others want only Gem notes in their collections; a scenario which is difficult to achieve, although completely understandable. In over 45 years of handling Confederate Treasury Notes, Obsolete Bank Notes and Southern States Bank notes; as of 2018, I have never seen the supply of high grade, problem free notes lower. This is especially applicable to CSA and Obsolete Bank Notes. Many rare or semi rare issues have always been near non existent in high grade. However; I am referring to a rapidly dwindling supply of material that was once available....to a limited degree. When one actually thinks about it, given the leading thoughts in the trade relative to a survival rate of 15%, what are the odds that any 1861, 1862 or 1863 CSA issue will remain in Choice Uncirculated condition in this day and time? Almost Uncirculated? Extremely Fine? Cancellations, staining, soiling, tears, chinks, holes, time, varmints, redemption by the Treasury, and a myriad of other factors prevent such. These notes were used heavily over 150 years ago. The higher grade, perfectly trimmed notes we seek today are the very rare exception, not the norm. It is indeed incredible that many of these notes remain in the lofty condition of Extremely Fine or better. Some notes are of such rarity that grade matters little. This is a subject for a different venue and time.
There are a wide array of materials available
to those who are interested in learning the specifics of grading. We will not attempt to set out the specifics of grading
here; although you may rest assured that the material offered here is
conservatively and properly graded. One rule remains paramount-your
satisfaction! If you acquire a note from us and disagree with
the assigned grade; you may simply return it...no questions asked.
CH CU (Choice Crisp Uncirculated)
COC (Cut out cancelled)
HOC (Hole out cancelled
(ink or manuscript cancelled)
OBV (Obverse or face of the
REV (Reverse or back of the
rating; i.e., R-10)
(Rothert #'s- Arkansas)
(Kraus #'s- Mississippi)
(Medlar #'s- Texas)
(Garland #'s- Tennessee)
(Burgett #'s- Indian Territory and Oklahoma)
(Parrish & Willingham)
A FEW WORDS ABOUT "EYE APPEAL".
Many times a collector will hear the words "great eye appeal". The grading services deal with "technical grade" only, not eye appeal. This is extremely important to remember. Eye appeal is that intangible element a note possesses which cannot be measured by any price guide, book, grading service holder or written reference. Outside of rarity, it is the single most important factor affecting the desirability and value of any given note. One learns the effect eye appeal has upon a given note via experience. For example; two third party graded CSA Treasury notes of the same "Type", which each posses the exact same technical grade are rarely worth the same amount of money. In 2006, I observed the 1864 $100, $1 and $2 notes with incredible color sell for nearly $1,000 each; many times the price of a normal note in the same technical grade. I have seen more examples of such an occurrence than I can relate here. If a note looks good to you; odds are it will also look good to someone else. Great color; superb trim, snow white paper and many other factors can lead to "superb eye appeal". Give me a VF note with great eye appeal over the same note in XF with "so-so" eye appeal every single time. Eye appeal can be equated to a note's beauty, it's stunning look, etc.. There is no catalog that will help you to value "eye appeal". I have seen notes at auction which possessed great "eye appeal" bring 5-10 times the high estimate over and over again. If you acquire a note with great eye appeal, you will never have to worry about value. These notes always take care of themselves from a value perspective. As the old saying goes; an ugly note never gets any prettier; no matter how long we stare at it or wish it would.
No where is the above more vividly displayed when it comes to a note housed in a grading service holder. Which would you rather have? A Choice AU-58 note bearing a microscopic corner fold, bump or the like or a New 63 note with no microscopic corner fold which is trimmed into the margin? Obviously, this is an area that most often comes down to how well the note is trimmed, it's color and overall beauty. The Choice AU-58 piece will likely be all there, and many times with four full frame lines, superb color and tremendous eye appeal. The New 63 note will; by definition, be trimmed into the margin. Time and time again I have seen collectors go with the opinion of the grading service and acquire the New 63 note over the AU 58 simply because the holder says "Choice Uncirculated". In my humble opinion, this is a mistake. Personally, if I can acquire a gorgeous, perfectly trimmed note, bearing superb color and superb eye appeal which is "relegated" to an AU-58 grade due to a small corner fold or bump, I will take the AU-58 note every single time. A Choice AU-58 note will most often be worth three to four times that of the New 63/64 note. Think for a moment about this subject. We are discussing notes that were printed, issued and utilized over 150 years ago. Is a crackling crisp, drop dead gorgeous note with four full frame lines, superb color and well inked worth less than the same note which is trimmed into the margin which does not have the corner bump or microscopic corner fold? There is no right or wrong answer to this question and thankfully this determination is up to the individual collector. Nonetheless; time and time again I have seen collectors buy a "number" on a piece of plastic rather than actually look carefully at the note itself and think the matter through. It is my opinion that a CHOICE AU-58 note is very much undervalued. I seek every single CHOICE AU-58 to AU-55 note I can find. Again, I am referring to choice notes only - problem free notes which bear superb eye appeal, and are fully framed. It is also important to remember that the grading service holder need not say "Choice" for the note to be such.
*To return to home page-click
"Shipley's Currency" at upper left.
To return to HOME PAGE- Click "Shipley's Currency" at upper