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Collecting: Banknotes.

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

I've always been a collector of "things" and have often tried to work out why this is. After years of internal reflection and deep study I concluded I should give up trying to understand it and get back to collecting. Most of us have at some stage collected something, or many things. My collecting started with keyrings as a kid and it was simply because "I didn't have one of those". As an adult there are a few things I collect and Banknotes is one area.


The point of this post is to give a little explanation of banknote collecting terms and give a little advice on collecting. My Bank note collection is focussed on British, Bank of England notes, so this is what I'll use for reference, but it translates to many other countries as well.


The subjects I will cover are;

  1. How to start a collection.

  2. How to store and look after a collection.

  3. Grading.

  4. Altered, cleaned and pressed notes.

  5. Terms and expressions such as Replacement, Column Sort, First and Last, Cashier, RADAR, Debden, Reference Numbers and Serials.

  6. Errors and Oddities.

  7. Beyond the face of it.

How to start a collection.

In the simplest terms, buy your first note, you've started. Before you do that, think about what has drawn you to collecting banknotes and where you want your collection to lead. Were you drawn to First issue Britannia 10 shilling notes (10/)? If so start there. If it's more general, start with a plan.


The first step would be to buy a good book. The main books to be recommended are;