The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 5, January 30, 2011, Article 9


John and Nancy Wilson submitted the following review. Thanks! -Editor

Guide Book of U.S. Paper Money 3rd ed. A Guide Book of United States Paper Money, "The Official Red Book," Third Edition, 2011,
Authors: Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg,
Introduction by
David L. Ganz, Published by Whitman Publishing, LLC,
Reviewed by John & Nancy Wilson

This Third Edition of, "A Guide Book of United States Paper Money," by Arthur and Ira Friedberg has many improvements from the last Edition which was published by Whitman in 2008. This Third Edition has 446 pages, is well illustrated, and has many full-color plates (face and back) of every issue of U. S. paper money from 1861 to present. The color plates are beautifully done and would be hard to improve on in future editions. The book covers market values in grades (with some exceptions) from Very Good to Uncirculated 63. The quantities of notes printed will also be very useful.

Arthur and Ira Friedberg have been involved in U. S. paper money for over three decades. Robert Friedberg (1912-1963) was the author of the 1953 edition of U.S. Paper Money, which became the standard reference at that time. Today, that reference is in its 19th Edition (2010) and published by the Coin and Currency Institute, Inc.

The Friedbergs have brought their vast experience and knowledge from that publication to Whitman for the publication of this standard reference. We particularly liked the comments in the Introduction by Attorney David L. Ganz, a past ANA President and former Mayor of Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Quoting him, "Encyclopedic in scope, it is lushly illustrated and filled with accurate valuations, and it contains the essential Friedberg numbering system that measures your collection's completeness and facilitates cataloging."

The two full pages following the introduction, discuss the $2 bill. This information will be all you need to know about this denomination. The "Civil War Years," will explain the rationale used for the issuance of paper money starting in 1861. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) following, along with "The Buck Starts Here," explains in an easy to read manner the formation of this government bureau, and its operation which handles all of our paper money and other fiscal documents. Signs reading, "The buck starts here, printed in green, are attached to each of the four machines that print between 8,000 and 10,000 sheets each hour containing the engraved portions of dollar bills at the multimillion-dollar Western Currency Factory of the BEP." The "World at our Fingertips," explains how paper money is used worldwide and how it dates back to the 9th Century A D. in China.

The "Bank of the United States" gives information on this famous bank which opened in 1791 and went out of business in the late 1830's. Following are sections on, "How to Collect United States Paper Money," and "Grading U. S. Currency," which we feel is a very important section especially if you are a newcomer.

One way we have found to collect U. S. paper money is by denomination. We have a type deuce collection which we have exhibited in the past. A less costly way is to collect Aces or all the $1 denomination notes issued between 1862 1923.

The "Storage and Care of Paper Money," will give you information needed for the preservation of the notes in your collection. Notes should be stored in a safe environment (away from sun, heat or dampness), as well as a proper holder, such as acetate or Mylar. Too many notes have been damaged because of improper storage and the use of poly vinyl holders.

The next section covers the "Types of U. S. Currency." They are listed in the order of first passage of the legislation authorizing them. In order of appearance they are: Interest Bearing Notes, Demand Notes of 1861, Legal Tender or U. S. Notes, National Bank Notes, Gold Certificates, Compound Interest Bearing Notes, National Gold Bank Notes, Silver Certificates, Refunding Certificates, Treasury or Coin Notes, Federal Reserve Bank Notes and Federal Reserve Notes.

"Small-Size Currency" follows and they came into circulation on July 10, 1929. Issued were, Small-Size National Bank Notes, Legal Tender Notes, Gold Certificates, Silver Certificates, Federal Reserve Bank Notes, Federal Reserve Notes and Notes Issued For Use During World War ll. Following that is a short paragraph regarding Star Notes, followed by Fractional Currency.

The catalog has all the notes of all the various issues listed by denomination(s) from $1 up to the $10,000. Though the reference covers very thoroughly all the denominations up to the $10,000, page 344 mentions the special $100,000 Gold Certificates Series of 1934 (small size), of which 42,000 were printed. They were issued to facilitate internal transactions with the government and all but a few were redeemed.

U. S. Postage and Fractional Currency (1863-1876) follows and covers all five issues of denominations from 3 cents to 50 cents. Fractional Currency shields are mentioned and the three types are listed with prices. Specimen notes are not covered in this reference and the Friedbergs refer you to their book on U. S. Paper Money. We consider U. S Postage and Fractional Currency, the most undervalued of all numismatic paper money.

Seven pages of the Treasury Notes of the War of 1812 follow and we appreciate the upgraded prices of this rare series. Not listed in the reference is a $3 remainder sheet of four notes which was part of the Ford holdings. This sheet resides in our collection and should be part of the census listed in this book.

The ten pages of Encased Postage Stamps cover the subject very thoroughly. The color plates are wonderfully done, like all illustrations in this catalog. The Error Note section will give you the basic information needed if your interest lies in that area.

Appendix A contains the Signatures of United States Currency and it is always interesting to see how long these officials served. Of great importance is Appendix B, which contains the Friedberg numbers by page. Appendix C contains the Modern Uncut Sheets of U. S. Currency offered by the BEP. The Glossary contains definitions such as Poker Chip Note Nickname for the Series of 1923 Legal Tender $10 Note. The $10 Denomination, given twice on the back, is surrounded by a round frame (thus the name Poker Chip Note). The bibliography finishes out this wonderful reference.

We think the most beautiful paper money ever issued by anyone in the history of the world are the 13 different issues of large sized or saddle blanket notes that were issued between 1861 and 1923. One reason for the many different changes to our currency between those years was the rampant problem with counterfeiting. A new issue made its appearance and it was quickly counterfeited. This is the same reason for the five different issues of U. S. Postage and Fractional Currency. As soon as an issue made its appearance it was quickly counterfeited.

Quoting the back cover of the book, "Immerse yourself in the romance and beauty of nearly 150 years of American currency." We don't think any country has ever produced a finer currency then the United States. We highly recommend this reference and it will be the only one you will ever need if you are a dealer, collector, beginner, historian or researcher. For more information on this reference which sells retail for $24.95 you can contact the publisher at: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 3101 Clairmont Road, Suite G, Atlanta, GA 30329, Phone (404) 235-5300 or fax to (404) 235-5350 or visit the Whitman web page at: http:/


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Wayne Homren, Editor

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