Antique United States Paper Money as an Investment

When Cash is King: Investing in Antique U.S. Currency

Paper money -or the "greenback"- is ubiquitous in American life. The United States dollar is the main reserve currency in the world and has been for quite a while. Even in a world of digital money transfers and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, there is the school of thought that cash is still king.

But most Americans are unaware that cash can be a profitable alternative investment rather than just something you buy your burger with. If you already have six to twelve months in emergency savings and a retirement plan, graded currency can be an excellent way to diversify your portfolio. In this article, we'll explore U.S. antique currency as a valuable addition to your holdings.

A Brief History of Antique Bills

First, we'll briefly go over the history of paper money in what is now the United States.

Different American colonies started printing their own currency in the 18th century.
For example, Massachusetts had a different currency than Georgia or Maryland. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress printed its own scrip, though that
The greenback as we now know it was first printed in 1862 during the Civil War. Bison note 1878 1880 silver notes After Reconstruction and the First World War, the dollar essentially became the way we know it today.

Next, we'll go over some of the long-term tools for success in the graded U.S. currency market.

Determine Your Goals and Strategy

Before you begin buying U.S. antique currency, consider your goal. Do you want to simply have fun with your hobby, or make sizeable returns? In other words, are you a collector, or an investor? There is nothing wrong with being a collector; indeed, it can be an intrinsically rewarding and even fun hobby. Perhaps you are holding onto your notes for posterity, or maybe you simply enjoy doing research and holding a piece of history in your hands. But if one is accumulating U.S. antique currency to make a return, you are an investor and not a collector.

The focus of your inventory is also important. Do you want to focus on collecting or investing in Buffalo notes? Colonial or Revolutionary War paper money? Silver Notes? Or perhaps Confederate money? All of these are viable options, but you must be prepared to do your research on market movements and potential gains before purchasing anything. Education is key to any investment, so be sure to read plenty of books on the topic.

What is most interesting to you personally? What do you think will be worth the most when you want to sell it? How long do you want to hold on to your notes? These and other considerations go into your first purchase.


The piece with the shortest turnover time -or highest liquidity in investor-speak- is nearly always the best option. If you purchase a note that is very rare and expensive, you may have trouble finding a buyer for it. The maxim of "buy low, sell high" still applies to investing in graded currency, just as with stocks and real estate. If you find someone selling a quality note or collection of notes and you believe that the price has the potential to rise, jump on that opportunity. Chiefs, Bisons, Silvers, and Golds are perennial favorites that you can turn over in either a short or long sale.


It is important that your notes are in good condition. It does not matter if your note is the only one of its kind if you can't sell it. Different printings are worth more or less, and grade is highly important.

Do your research, but do not be afraid to pull the trigger and take risks. You may take some losses, but as you continue to learn about what sells and what doesn't, you'll eventually make great returns.