De La Rue reports declining profits and revenue on increased volume

According to a press release dated 25 November 2014, security printer De La Rue's profits fell 36%, to £18.1 million, in the six months ended 27 September, with revenue down by 8%, despite banknote printing volume up 4% to 2.7 billion notes. The company blamed “ongoing challenging market conditions” for ad­versely impacting financial performance.

Spink Books publishes new print edition of The Banknote Book

Greetings from Valkenburg, The Netherlands, site of the Paper Money Fair run by Jos Eijsermans, who brings together dealers and collectors from around the world two times a year for almost a full week of nothing but notes!

I am proud to announce that a new print edition of The Banknote Book made its debut in Valkenburg today. In the past, I have offered the catalog as a print-on-demand paperback book via Lulu.com, but this new catalog covering 203 countries is far superior, with durable hardcovers and high-quality coated stock interior pages, thanks to a new partnership with Spink Books, a division of the venerable London-based auction house.

Spink_catalogsThe Banknote Book at Spink table 2

I will continue to publish the catalog online with frequent revisions and new chapters as always, but from now on all print sales are handled by Spink Books. Individual copies of the three volumes may be ordered online, but anyone interested in purchasing books in quantity for resale must contact Spink Books for trade discounts.

The Numismatourist: The Only Worldwide Travel Guide to Museums, Mints, and Other Place of Interest for the Numismatist

The_Numismatourist
The Numismatourist: The Only Worldwide Travel Guide to Museums, Mints, and Other Place of Interest for the Numismatist
Howard M. Berlin, 414 pages, soft cover, 6 x 9 inches, color illustrations, English, ISBN-13 978-1933990293, $29.95, (Order from Amazon.com)

The Numismatourist is the first book of its kind as a world-wide travel guide for the numismatist. It is also for the numismatist who is traveling, either on vacation or business, and wishes to visit those places that of are interest to the hobby or profession. Inside you will find a numismatic travel guide, listing over 175 places in 75 countries open to the public, with almost 100 of these described in detail with pictures that are spread over North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Oceania-Pacific. The foreword is written by Karen M. Lee, Curator, National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.

Polymer Bank Notes of the World

Polymer Bank Notes of the World
Polymer Bank Notes of the World

Stane Straus, Donald Ludwig, Marian Meyer, and Tigerson, 144 pages, soft cover, 297 x 212 mm, color illustrations, English, ISBN 9789619365908, €20 (plus shipping), kin2.orders@gmail.com

Reviewed by Owen W. Linzmayer

Polymer Bank Notes of the World is the definitive guide to one of the hottest numismatic fields: non-paper notes, be they Tyvek, polymer, or hybrid (combinations of paper and polymer). The new 2014 edition uses larger format pages than the preceding 2012 edition, and has expanded from 122 pages to 144 pages, with coverage of an additional 285 entries of both issued and promotional/test notes (created by security printing firms to show off their prowess and new anti-counterfeiting features).

Each note is illustrated in color, front and back. Below the illustrations are descriptions with some historical background about the vignettes on the notes, as well as detailed variety listings, each assigned their own unique Straus number (for example: Australia S1R3a), along with cross-references to Pick and The Banknote Book catalog numbers. Pricing in euros is given for uncirculated notes, and lesser grades in the few cases where pristine notes aren't readily available.

The lines devoted to describing the variations are somewhat dense and deciphering the frequent abbreviations requires a bit of mental gymnastics, but as a fellow cataloger with an interest in collecting these notes, I appreciate the authors' attention to details, accuracy, and specificity. Also well received are all the footnotes below the variety listings which provide additional information about the notes, helping put them into context and enhancing their appeal.

If you're one of the many people with a penchant for polymer, this catalog belongs in your reference library (it's a bargain at only 20 euros), and the accompanying web site (http://www.polymernotes.org) should be a frequent stop as you browse the web for the latest information.

De La Rue insider reveals insight into banknote design

The Financial Times has an interesting article dated 28 April 2014 in which Andy Sharman interviews Malcom Knight, "former research and development director and now consultant at De La Rue, the discreet British banknote maker that has designed more than 40 per cent of the paper currency to have entered global circulation in the past two years."

Courtesy of Jim "Rubycored" Chen.

Free samples of Banknotes of the World industry newsletter

Banknotes of the World
InterCrim Press (Moscow, Russia) publishes books and magazines of interest to banknote collectors, most notably Banknotes of the World, a 40-page monthly newsletter containing news and articles covering the currency industry and the banking community in Russia and abroad. While the editorial is geared towards currency industry insiders, collectors may also appreciate learning about the business side of banknote production and handling. Each issue devotes several pages to the security features of new notes, and there are counterfeit notices as well, plus a fair bit of information on coins, too.

An annual subscription to Banknotes of the World costs $300 for 12 PDF issues, or $360 for printed copies. InterCrim Press has generously agreed to allow BanknoteNews to distribute three back issues as a free download to provide a sample of what you can expect when you subscribe to the newsletter.

International Currency Grading adopts The Banknote Book catalog numbers

San Francisco - 21 February 2014 - International Currency Grading (ICG) is pleased to announce that they have begun printing The Banknote Book catalog numbers on ICG grading labels.

Saudi_Arabia_SAMA_500_riyals_2003.00.00_B29a_P30_ICG_f

“As a new grading service focused exclusively on world paper money, we offer accurate grading that collectors demand and deserve. The precise and complete identification of the notes we grade is an important part of our service, and The Banknote Book is unequaled in accuracy, detail, and specificity,” said Jaime Sanz, a manager at ICG. “ICG staffers rely upon The Banknote Book as our primary reference source because its editor shares our curiosity, rigorous standards, and love of world paper money.”

According to Owen W. Linzmayer, editor of The Banknote Book, “ICG was looking for detailed, error-free and up-to-date information for their grading labels and I am honored that they have embraced The Banknote Book. When I began publishing my catalog three years ago, I never expected collectors and dealers to abandon the venerable Pick numbers for The Banknote Book numbers. ICG’s decision to print both on equal footing demonstrates they are bringing a progressive new approach to banknote grading services.”

If you would like to try ICG's grading service, use the coupon code TBB to receive a 30% discount.

For more information, contact:

Jaime Sanz
International Currency Grading
London, United Kingdom
http://www.icgrading.com
help@icgrading.com

Mehilba World Replacement specialized catalog now available

Mehilba World Replacement cover
It's my great pleasure to announce the availability of fellow numismatic author Dr. Ali Mehilba's long-awaited catalog, Mehliba World Replacement. As most of you know, The Banknote Book explains how to identify replacement notes, but being an omnibus catalog it can't go into great detail nor provide values for same. Anyone who wants the most definitive examination of this fascinating aspect of numismatics in encouraged to purchase Dr. Ali's specialized catalog. At almost 600 color pages, it's well worth the list price of US$65. Apply coupon code owen (all lowercase) in the shopping cart to receive a $5 discount, and be sure to ask for a personalized autograph during checkout.

Press release: Banknotes of the World 2011-2012

Banknotes of the World 2012
Reference book. Issue 10
In English and Russian.
30×21×3 cm
568 pages.

  • Actualized and carefully checked information on cash circulation of all countries and territories of the world on the end of 2012;
    • Regional geographic information for each state (location, chapter, currency, issuing bank, etc.);
    • Peculiarities of cash circulation in the country;
    • Currency notes of each state are grouped by categories: main circulation banknotes, banknotes, which are rare in circulation, but still maintain the status of legal tender; banknotes withdrawn from circulation: exchanged and cancelled;
    • Rules and procedures for the exchange and cancellation of banknotes withdrawn from circulation;
    • Description of security complex general circulation banknote series;
    • Color images of front and back of general circulation banknotes with indication of security features.

Besides, you may find background information on monetary and economic unions, glossary of terms of security features and simple and convenient search system and cross-references.

Price: 200 USD or 150 EUR

The edition is intended for financiers, economists, bank personnel, traders, experts, geographers, historians, university professors and students as well as general public interested in history and economy of the world countries.

The series “World Currencies: Currency Circulation Chronicle — XXI century” (10 volumes: 2001—2012) is recognized by authoritative among professional directory editions in the world and is recommended for practical use in financial institutions the International association of participants of the currency industry (IACA).

Phones: +7 (499) 267-30-63, 267-43-38, 267-46-34, 267-49-74, 267-51-28.
Fax: +7 (499) 267-42-34.
E-mail: sibileva_t@icpress.ru; order@icpress.ru
You can also order this book online at www.icpress.ru

19th Edition Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues Volume III now available

SCWPM_Volume_III_19th_edition
The 19th edition of Krause’s Standard Catalog of World Paper Money carries a list price of $70, but this 1,160-page black-and-white paperback without PDF version on CD-ROM can be ordered from Amazon for only $43.07 with free shipping. Of course, I’d prefer everyone purchase a subscription to my own catalog, The Banknote Book, but if you are going to buy the latest SCWPM, please order from Amazon so that BanknoteNews.com earns a referral fee.

I had planned to write a new review of the 19th edition, but instead recommend you simply read my review of the 18th edition because every general criticism remains valid, and even the specific examples of errors cited in my previous review remain uncorrected.

In a nutshell, hundreds of new notes remain unlisted, some listed notes don't exist as described, values do not reflect the current market, many notes are not illustrated, signature tables necessary for distinguishing varieties are missing, descriptions are terse, and typographical and factual errors abound. Of the new issues actually incorporated into this new volume, major new types are sometimes incorrectly shoehorned into old listings as mere varieties, leading me to believe that Krause has reached the page limit for this volume and is taking shortcuts to avoid adding to the page count.

Beautiful banknote-themed wall calendars

beastsaircraftbeautiesbirdsboatsbridgesfish
I'm proud to announce the availability of seven thematic calendars for 2013 featuring some of the world's most beautiful banknotes depicting aircraft, beasts, beauties, birds, boats, bridges, and fish.

These 11 x 17 inch colorful wall calendars cost $24.99 each.

I personally ordered a bunch of calendars to give as gifts, and I must say that I am very impressed with the quality of the paper (thick) and printing (rich colors), and the beauty of the images (detailed).

50% off beautiful banknote-themed wall calendars until 8 February 2013

beastsaircraftbeautiesbirdsboatsbridgesfish
I'm proud to announce the availability of seven thematic calendars for 2013 featuring some of the world's most beautiful banknotes depicting aircraft, beasts, beauties, birds, boats, bridges, and fish.

These 11 x 17 inch colorful wall calendars normally cost $24.99, but with Lulu's limited-time discount, you can buy calendars for yourself and friends for only $12.50 each.

Lulu is offering 50% off all calendars if you enter the coupon code IHEART50 (use all caps) during checkout. Be sure to order before the code expires at midnight on Wednesday 2 January 2013.

Non-US customers: Lulu has different coupon codes for its international stores. Either check the home page for your country's code, or
switch to the United States store so that the above code will be accepted.

CoinWeek video of Maastricht 2012 banknote show

CoinWeek has posted an interesting video created by David Lisot, host and producer of CoinWeek video news service, during a recent trip to Europe attended the Maastricht Paper Money Fair held in Valkenburg Netherlands.

David interviewed many of the participants at the show finding out what collectors have in common with their counterparts in the United States. He addressed the economic situation in Europe and whether the hobby has been affected by the downturn in the workplace and the debt crisis affecting so many countries. He also shows examples of the some of the more popular bank notes collectors are buying.

Courtesy of Aidan Work.

Wanted: Contact info for numismatic publications

I am trying to compile a list of printed numismatic publications which cover banknotes. I know of a few of the major ones in the United States, but am not familiar with international magazines or newsletters.

If you subscribe to such a publication, whether in English or another language, please send me the precise name of the publication, as well as URL, email address, and postal address.

Click here to write to me using the Contact form.

Thanks in advance for everyone's assistance. I'll post the results on a new page in the Links section of this site.

Press release: InterCrim-Press announced Currencies of the World online directory

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InterCrim-Press is pleased to introduce its new product, “Currencies of the World: Cash Circulation. Analysis. Counterfeiting,” a unique digital resource providing up-to-date information on 182 currencies of more than 250 countries and territories of the world.

The directory is a useful tool for bank employees, security experts of bank financial institutions, law enforcement, customs officials, organizations and businesses of the world currency industry.

The directory consists of three constantly updating modules: "Catalogue of Currencies", "NEWS: Up-to-date information about changes in the currency of the world", and "Counterfeits".

  • Module “Catalogue of Currencies" has descriptions of 182 currencies of the world (notes of the main treatment; notes, which are rarely found in circulation, but retained the status of legal tender; notes, which are derived from the circulation: exchanged and canceled; glossary of terms (a full list of terms and concepts with a description of protective elements used in banknote production).

  • Module “NEWS” promptly informs about all changes in circulation of the banknotes of the world and provides links to the relevant section of the module "Catalogue of Currencies."

  • Module "Counterfeits" contains basic information about counterfeit banknotes, revealed by the law-enforcement agencies in the Russian Federation and CIS countries. Information includes a detailed description of the main signs of counterfeits with the demonstration of fragments (fragments illustrated with simulations of protective elements on the counterfeit banknotes and comparative analysis with similar fragments in genuine banknotes) and of more than 900 varieties of counterfeit banknotes of the following items: rubles of The Bank of Russia, The U.S. dollars, EU euro, GBP of The Bank of England, The Bank of Canada's dollars, francs of The Swiss, People's Bank of China Yuan, the hryvnia of Ukraine, etc.

Each module contains characterization of the protective features of a complex series, high-quality full-color front and back images with the public, and machine-readable security features (images in the UV and IR spectra, magnetic protection), information about the composition of banknote substrate (paper, polymer, composite), printing methods, the date of entry banknotes in circulation, exchange rates.

Try the demo version of the product at http://demo.icpress.ru/en_index.php.

Book Review: World Paper & Polymer Uncut Banknote

World Paper & Polymer Uncut Banknote
World Paper & Polymer Uncut Banknote
K. N. Boon, 154 pages, soft cover, 297 x 210 mm, color illustrations, Chinese and English, ISBN 978-983-43313-4-4, US$15, www.3833.com

K. N. Boon's recently published book, World Paper & Polymer Uncut Banknote, is the first catalog devoted entirely to collectors of uncut sheets of notes, and as such it fills an interesting gap in the numismatic field of knowledge.

I had hoped to learn more about how and why uncut sheets are sold to collectors, mailing/storage/display options, deciphering plate and block nubmers, etc. Unfortunately, aside from a few pages of introductory text, there's not much prose in this book, the bulk of which is devoted to depictions of the banknote sheets along with brief descriptions and variety listings. The text is written primarily in English, with some material also in Chinese. For the most part, the English is serviceable, in spite of some typos and awkward phrases.

The banknote listings are segregated by substrate, with paper-based notes appearing first, followed by polymer-based notes at the end of the catalog. I would prefer to see all of the notes of a particular country listed together, but collectors who specialize in polymer issues may appreciate having these notes broken out into their own section.

Within the paper and polymer sections, the listings are organized alphabetically by country, then grouped by denominations (smallest to largest), each in chronological order. Unique note types are assigned their own KNB numbers, with lowercase variety letters appended to distinguish between sheets with different attributes. For example, KNB4a may refer to an uncut block of 4 notes, whereas KNB4b refers to a full uncut sheet of 45 notes. Alas, there are no cross-references to other catalog numbers of the underlying notes.

In most cases, blocks (mini-sheets) or full sheets of notes are illustrated, except when the author wasn't able to obtain such images. In those cases, an individual note is shown instead. I actually prefer this latter presentation because the note's design details can be seen, which is not the case when the sheets are reproduced greatly reduced in size. I hope the second edition of this book will include larger illustrations of the front and back of individual notes to each listing for the best of both worlds. Another improvement would be expanded descriptions of the notes. Many notes lack any descriptions at all, and for those that are described, the text is terse and typically applies only to the front; usually the backs are ignored altogether.

Each listing has columns for Date of Issue, Quantity Issued, Issued Price, and Market Price, with the last two values shown in Chinese yuan (RMB). Market prices are given for almost all listings, but in many cases the other columns are left blank. Hopefully further research will result in this information being added in future editions.

Unfortunately, some unscrupulous sellers cut notes from sheets in an attempt to create "errors" or rare prefix varieties which are then foisted upon unsuspecting buyers. To the author's credit, some listings include warnings about this practice, and some listings also indicate the prefixes found on the sheets, but it's unclear if these prefixes are exclusive to sheets. More detailed prefix information might allow for the easy identification of such doctored notes.

World Paper & Polymer Uncut Banknote is an excellent first attempt to systematically document an area of collecting that has heretofore been largely ignored by other catalogs. Collectors of banknote sheets will most definitely appreciate having this handsome, professionally printed, full-color volume in their reference library.

Check out other book reviews and news on the Books page of this site.

Krause publishes SCWPM: General Issues Volume II, 13th Edition


Krause Publications has released a new 13th edition of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, General Issues, 1368-1960. I haven’t gotten a copy yet, but according to the press release, key features of the book include:

• 25,100 bank note varieties with current values in three condition grades.
• Enhanced note and color descriptions, allowing users to quickly identify varieties.
• More than 8,000 quality photographs to assist with identification.
• Historical details, grading definitions and numeral charts.

Like it or not, the SCWPM remains "the bible" for our hobby because its Pick numbers are almost universally used to identify notes. If you intend to get a copy despite its flaws, please support this site by buying the latest edition using this link.

Check out other book reviews and news on the Books page of this site.

Book Review: World Paper Money Errors


World Paper Money Errors by Morland C. Fischer (Order from Amazon.com)
250 pages, soft cover, 230 x 150 mm, color illustrations, English, published by Zyrus Press Publishing, ISBN 978-1-933990-25-5

Reviewed by Owen W. Linzmayer

While there are several catalogs covering United States paper money errors, this book is the first attempt at a systematic approach to describing, documenting, and pricing errors on world banknotes. As such, it’s an important new addition to the world’s numismatics knowledge base, but it suffers from some shortcomings I hope will be addressed in future editions.

Author Morland C. Fischer does a very good job of explaining the various types of errors found on banknotes and has distilled them down to an eight-point FEN (Foreign Error Note) ranking system in which higher numbers correspond to more significant errors. Reasonable people might disagree over whether a missing overprint is more dramatic an error than an inverted back (FEN 4 and 7, respectively), but the codification of the taxonomy of errors is a welcome improvement to a subjective field of study.

The bulk of the book is devoted to illustrating the various error types, each broken into their own chapters. I found the introductory explanations of how specific types of errors happen in the production process particularly interesting. The book has color illustrations throughout, usually with the front and back of the error note at 50% actual size, along with a non-error note for comparison. This allows you to see the magnitude of the error and appreciate the artwork and intended design of the reference note, although some illustrations would have benefited by close-ups or annotations to highlight the affected areas of the note. There are lots of examples from many different countries and time periods, which is good overall, but it’s overkill for some types of errors, such as missing serial numbers, which are easy to understand without repetitive illustrations.

Personally, I would have liked to see more plate errors—also known as engraving errors—because I find man-made errors more intriguing than machine mistakes. As a writer and editor myself, I’m amused by the fact that central banks sometimes fail to catch embarrassing typos until after printing and issuing millions of notes into circulation. Alas, there are only a dozen such errors discussed. Entirely lacking are any examples of errors in security features, such as when a thread intended for one note appears in another, or the wrong watermark is used.

Anyone who has contemplated buying an error note will do well to first read the chapter on “pseudo” errors. At first glance these appear to be errors, but may have been intentionally created by unscrupulous collectors/dealers by miscutting individual notes from sheets or using chemicals to alter notes, for example. Sometimes they aren’t errors at all, but rather printers’ waste, proof notes, or remainders. Buyer beware.

Ironically, the author is not immune to making errors of his own. For example, he mistakes the front and back of Ukraine’s 20-hryvan note of 1992 (Pick 107), includes a 1,000-shilling fantasy note from Somaliland without mentioning its dubious origin, and the last few pages of the book are incorrectly set in fonts of varying size, resulting in a jumbled appearance. However these are all minor quibbles; for the most part the content is solid and unassailable.

My main complaint with this book is that author tries too hard to make the case that world error notes are undervalued. He provides a number of possible explanations for the disparity in prices between comparable errors on US and foreign notes, yet ignores what might be the most obvious explanation of all: differences in the values of the corresponding non-error notes. For example, he laments that a foldover error on a United States 10-dollar note dated 1969C (Pick 451d) is worth $1,000 - 2,000 whereas a similar printing error on a Mexican 500-peso note (Pick 69) is valued at $200 - 300. But when you consider that the SCWPM lists non-error examples of the former at four times the value of the latter, the price disparity between the errors doesn’t seem so significant nor unwarranted.

Judging by the passion with which he approaches his subject, it is apparent that the author loves error notes, but his insistence that world error notes are “undervalued,” with “considerable upside potential,” and “could be ready to explode,” comes across as a hard sell by someone with an agenda. I found cause for pause when reading “In some instances, a price may appear to be unusually high. However, prices were chosen to indicate what should be [emphasis mine] the fair market value…Moreover, the assigned price ranges reflect an extrapolation of expected prices over a period of five years from publication.” Pricing non-error world notes is fraught with difficulties (fluctuations in currency exchange rates and differences in foreign/domestic demand for a country’s own notes, for example) which are only compounded when considering far less common—sometimes even unique—error notes and trying to guess what they should be worth far into the future. The book would have greater credibility if it merely reported current free market prices and suggested reasonable premiums a collector might expect to pay for different types of errors.

World Paper Money Errors carries a list price of US$34.95 and can be ordered directly from Zyrus Press Publishing, P.O. Box 17810, Irvine, CA 92623. (888) 622-7823. www.zyruspress.com or purchased from Amazon at a significant discount.

New edition of Standard Catalog of World Paper Money now shipping



The 16th edition of Krause’s Standard Catalog of World Paper Money is now shipping. I just received my copy and wanted to share my initial impressions.

At 1,112 black and white pages, it's exactly as large as the previous edition, though its list price is now $60 instead of $55, and it does not come with a disc containing a PDF version of the catalog, which is a great disappointment.

Also somewhat disappointing is that values for VG conditions have been eliminated. Now only VF and UNC conditions are listed. While some will decry this change, I think it’s a reasonable change because most modern notes collectors insist on UNC anyway.

More troublesome is that this edition continues the trend of covering only a fraction of the new note types and varieties that have been issued in the past years, and illustrating almost none of them. It appears that the cut-off for inclusion in this catalog was mid-2009, but many, many notes issued well before then failed to make it into print (The Banknote Update contains over 80 pages of images and info missing from the 16th edition of the SCWPM).

In an attempt to appear more current than it really is, the catalog has assigned Pick numbers to a lot of "expected issues." The problem with this practice is that many such notes are never released, inevitably forcing the editors to renumber at a future date, much to the frustration of collectors and dealers everywhere (my cursory examination uncovered a half dozen notes that have been renumbered or deleted between editions). Furthermore, the information (such as dates) in the listings for these expected issues often proves wrong, adding to the general confusion.

Speaking of frustrating and confusing, some listings refer to non-existent signature charts, or the signature chart exists, but hasn’t been updated to include the latest signatures, making it impossible to distinguish between varieties.

I haven't done a thorough check of the entire catalog, but a spot check revealed some obvious pricing problems, such as listing Armenia's 100,000-dram note at $250 in UNC, even though its face value is $263. The 50,000-won from South Korea, featured on the cover of the new edition, is worth $40 at face, but is listed at $50 in UNC. Good luck finding dealers selling notes with negative or nominal mark-ups.

Like it or not, the SCWPM remains "the bible" for our hobby because its Pick numbers are almost universally used to identify notes. If you intend to get a copy despite its flaws, please support this site by buying the latest edition using this link.