We chatted with 5 experienced banknote collectors about their beginnings, the present and future of collecting or what mistakes they wouldn’t repeat. Interesting, right?


Manipulated banknotes are being rejected more and more

From Carlet (Valencia, Spain) and popularly known as ‘Paquito’. He started collecting
stickers when he was only a kid. In 2002 he was initiated in Pesetas paper coin
just when Spain was saying goodbye to this currency and welcoming the Euro

How did you start collecting banknotes?
Everything began one day I stopped in front of a numismatic shop window where
100, 500 and 1000 Pesetas banknotes were exhibited. They had not been
circulating for a while and having the chance to get them again was kind of
magical for me. At that exact moment, notaphily trapped me!

What is your expertise?
I consider myself a good collector of XX Century Spanish banknotes. During all
these years I have learnt from the good ones and also from my own mistakes.
Around 10 years ago I started to collect ‘advertising and test notes’ as well:
fictional or propagandistic banknotes printed by the own printing houses with
all security system and a spectacular design. It is a very reduced collecting world, I barely know a dozen people in Europe.

You just said you have learnt from your mistakes, which ones would you avoid and what would you say to a beginner?
I think I would be calmer, avoiding the rush. There are tons of banknotes out
there but also a lot of speculation. This activity is not an investing at all,
mostly the opposite, but it is what I like.
I would recommend to a beginner to avoid flea markets and to be careful with
conventions. Ideally go hand to hand with someone with more experience. I
cannot talk well about merchants either, they pretend to be your friend but
they are just after your money. To sum up, you must read a lot of books,
forums… get into groups, social media, be friends with veterans and ask every
time you need. Being by yourself at the beginning it’s insane.  I did it for almost 10 years and lost a fortune.

How do you see the market and where is it heading to?
Market is focusing in banknotes and in very well conserved pieces that can be
certificated. Manipulated banknotes are being rejected more and more. Of
course, purchases are online and in trusted auction houses. Personally, I don’t
buy certified banknotes as grade speculation is quite common. I prefer to see
them first and then have the certification by myself. Honestly, I don’t see a
prosperous future for Spanish banknote collecting.

We consider prices are increasing a lot lately. What is causing it? Do you think we are inside a numismatic bubble?
When I started in 2002, when the Pesetas were disappearing and we were in good
economic shape, prices rocketed and every year increased around 15 or 20%.
Then, with the crisis, prices plummeted and now, although we are a bit more
stabilized, banknotes are still overpriced. Offer and demand will determine the
market, as usual.

What is the most rare piece you have seen?
In the famous 2005 Crayon auction, with not much expertise, I could see the Murillo 100 Pesetas(1880) Cervantes (1884) or the Goya 500 pesetas (1874) classics. In my collection I have some interesting pieces but nothing special, maybe the 1907 1000 and 500 Pesetas. I achieved really rare stuff in test notes but I enjoy them by myself as de demand is very small.



Only a scandal could disrupt the Notaphily market.

He is a collector since 1977. Furthermore, he is the author of over 100 articles
and 2 books about Spanish banknote: Obligaciones, vales y documentos puestos en circulación como papel moneda en España y  Papel moneda emitido por organismos estatales, entidades locales, empresas y sindicatos durante la Guerra Civil en el Norte de España.

How did you starte in this world?
I already collected stamps in 1952 but I quit when I realized that merchants and Correos weren’t serious and were releasing new editions all the time. In 1977 someone gave me 5 Albéniz 25 pesetas banknotes. I liked them so I went to have a look at the philately store where I used to buy the stamps. I bought a few things and till today.

What is your strength?
I consider myself an expert in unregulated paper money of the XIX Century and
the first period of the XX, credit societies, Balear banks… and issues in the North of Spain during the Civil War. I collect XX Century Spanish pieces and unregulated Spanish paper money (I think I have one of the best collections in this field).

What would you do differently if you could start all over again?
The only mistake I wouldn’t make again is to trust merchants. I’d say that 95% of them don’t have enough knowledge and they think of money over anything else.
My advice to the new ones is to study and get some good books.

What do you think about the increasing prices in this market?
Notaphily market is like any other market. Offer and demand with high and low points. Between 2005 and 2010 banknotes were much more expensive than right now. Later on, prices plummet and now are increasing again. To think about stability is not to know the power of the market. Only something like Afinsa scandal could disrupt the Notaphily market. If someone is thinking about prices or collecting only with an investment objective, is completely wrong. Collecting is a hobby, no more,
no less.

What are the most exceptional pieces you have or you have seen?
I was a friend of Zacarías Mateos y Félix Cuquerella and I saw their collections and stock. In paper money of credit institutions or Baleares and private banks I got very fascinating pieces. Also I got good pieces of the XX Century like the 1903 500 pesetas.



We could be creating a bubble inside the market

He has been collecting Spanish banknote since before the Euro. Everything started when he kept banknotes for his memory and right now he has a very nice certificate

You are a Spanish banknotes expertise, which period do you collect?
Alfonso XII, Alfonso XIII, Republic, Provinces, Spanish State, Juan Carlos y Euros.

What would you do differently and what is your advice for the beginners?
My mistake was to buy compulsively without paying attention to quality in one side, and collect correlative pairs in the other side. My advice is to value quality before quantity and evaluate every occasion with no rush.

Where is the philatelic market heading to?
Towards certification, no circulated pieces and higher grades that are every day
better paid. We could be creating a bubble.

Finally, could you tell us a piece you remember especially?
The rarer piece I’ve seen is the 1938 5000 pesetas. In my collection I have a predilection for the Alfonso XIII period.



Coins and banknotes certification will be essential   

His passion seed for collecting was a Euro banknote set that banks delivered to business companies in 2001. Three years later, this Economist, fiscal adviser and
accounts auditor originally from Asturias (Spain) was fully into collecting.

Where did you decide to start your collection?
During the first few years I was after the Juan Carlos I coins and the first Euro series of every country. In 2004, with all the variety of Euro coins that were issued and the difficulty of keeping them in a good condition (coppers and alloys made stains, especially if you live in the north), I changed the objective. I started worldwide banknotes, easier to maintain and more enjoyable for me.

What is your expertise?
I don’t consider myself an expert but an amateur. I focus my collection on the world banknotes in the best state possible, paying special attention to the polymer ones as they are easier to find and usually in good condition.

Do you remember your beginning?
I was initiated in Afinsa Forum, collaborating and organizing the first euro coin series purchase group. We were over 50 collectors but, after a while, we were invited to leave the forum. At the same time, the Afinsa scandal exploded so we moved all the operations to (now When I decided to start collecting banknote I organized group purchases for over 100 collectors. That’s how my world collection started.  They were very accessible pieces, very cheap and in SC quality. Taxes were ridiculous or inexistent.

 Can you recognize now what mistakes did you make?
Yes, a lot. Basically to pretend to have at least one banknote of every country, even from the extinct ones. It was not only the main mistake but the origin of my  frustration as it is an impossible mission because weather they don’t exist or they are

An advice for the new ones…
Plan your collection, set accessible goals and reasonable times. Trying to get a lot and as fast as possible is just to pile objects. Collecting is an activity that needs organization, classification, knowledge and study with no rush to achieve an objective just to start with another.

How do you think the market is evolving?
Some of us already detected the importance of coins and banknotes certification. It is something it will be essential for medium, high and very high value pieces. Furthermore, a lot of countries are studying not only to change into polymer banknotes but to eliminate physical money, coins and banknotes. Future collectors will have less new issues and more commemorative and no circulating pieces.It is probably that the market turns into no contemporaneous banknotes. Banknotes will convert into classics (with no replacements)and contemporaneous will disappear. Combination of certification and disappearance or reduction of physical money will be a challenge to the collecting world hard to anticipate. Hopefully we will have a few more decades before this happens.

Prices have rocketed lately. In your opinion, what is causing it?
It is the natural evolution of the market. But no market goes up forever. There are several causes: lacking of effectiveness of other inversions, searching of new ones and, why do not say it, in many occasions collecting has an irrational point where price is not a problem if the pocket can resist it. We all have suffered good and bad waves in the numismatic and notaphily markets. It also depends on if you think of your collection as an inversion or a hobby. You must know when is the right time for buying, selling or just waiting.

Are we walking into a bubble?
I don’t think so. It is more like a bump that will flat sooner or later. However, this is more of a wish than a reality as the proliferation of bid houses usually increases the prices more than stabilizes them. The own system increases costs with commissions (to both buyer and seller) and the need for certificates and pays for safe deliveries. All that makes that good pieces price have to cover inversion and selling fees.

What is the most exceptional piece you got in your collection?
I don’t have anything extremely rare as I don’t collect classics but international contemporaneous, and there’re only a few pieces that can be considered as rare or impossible. We could say that the more extraordinary or costly of my collection are: 
Maldiva’s Island 5000 Rufiyaa 2015 Pick 25a en cartera
Greenland 25 Ore 1913 Pick 11b 2 uncut units UNCUT SC-
Faeroe Island 200 Krone 2011 Pick 31a PMG 70EPQ
And the first sheets of every Spanish Euro signature



Good about Notaphily is there are no investors, only collectors

He became passionate about banknotes while living in New York where he found in the fleamarkets interesting pieces from extinct countries such as British Borneo, Biafra
or Katanga. Furthermore, as an economist and banker, he soon was interested in hyper-inflated South American banknotes.

What can you tell us about your personal collection?
Till a few years ago I’ve been a banknote generalist, collecting pieces from all around the world. Later on, in a way as a consequence of price increases, I became more specialized in the areas I was especially interested: Africa, Central America and local Spanish Civil War banknotes.

Do you recognize many mistakes in all these years? How would you help others to avoid them?
In the beginning you make many mistakes but I don’t regret them as you always learn from them. Like buying some fake banknotes, for example, but also selling pieces too soon. It is said that impatience is a common mistake among beginners but I’m not so sure of it. In fact, I have regretted more times to have been patient in letting go banknotes that I haven’t seen again than to have been impatience buying pieces without thinking twice. What I recommend, any way, is to study a lot, get catalogues and references, make good friends with field knowledge and try always to buy good quality.

How do you see the future of notaphily market?
Regards my field, the hobby goes towards quality and rarity. Weather buying or selling in an international fair or in an auction, we are all after rare banknotes with a high grade. From my point of view, it is always more difficult to buy (an easier to sell) 1000 Euro than a 200 one. In a market where rarity and quality are over everything else, it’s clear that the big winners are auction and graduation houses.

You mentioned before the prices increase. Do you think we are entering in a bubble?
Prices are much higher, that’s true, but I don’t think so. In my opinion, notaphily has two big differences from numismatic and other big areas of collecting. Firstly, ultra-rare piece’s prices are still low. There are very few areas of collecting where you can buy a piece out of 5 or 10 copies for only a few thousand Euros. And secondly, in notaphily there are not investors. Every time prices rise during an auction people get upset saying that investors are behind it. But this is not right. In notaphily we are all basically collectors. 

Any rare piece you have in your collection?
I have seen very rare pieces and, fortunately, I got some of them, especially from Africa. Banknotes that were believed to have disappeared from East Africa from the 20’s, Zanzíbar or Portuguese African colonies of the XIX Century. From Spain I could have some rare classics such Dama de Elche or Fortuny. I also have a dozen of test notes or unique models over all from Africa, my weakness.