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HomeCollecting StrategiesTen Affordable Coins and Banknotes From Around the World

Ten Affordable Coins and Banknotes From Around the World

By Al Doyle for CoinWeek.com …..
 

Is it possible to overthink the coin-collecting game? Does it require constant study of population reports and other data to determine the right items to obtain? Sometimes, it pays to trust your instincts and gut in life, and this also applies to numismatics.

Regarding collectors, acting in such a manner usually means going for the most eye-catching coins or currency. Attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder, and the problem is usually budget-related.

What can the person with limited funds do if well-known classics like Saint-Gaudens gold $20s and higher-grade Draped Bust silver dollars of the 1790s are way out of reach? Keep looking, as many other items can dazzle the eye and enhance a collection without causing financial hardship. Try this top 10 list for starters.

Canada $50 Note, Series of 1975

An image of the front and back of a Series of 1975 Canada $50 currency note.
Series of 1975 Canada $50. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Vivid colors, first-rate artistry, and a national trademark make this piece of currency popular even among those who might typically bypass paper money.

Bright red, jet black, and green combined with tunic-clad Mounties on horseback in the famed Musical Ride formation come together to make the kind of note that screams, “Grab me!”. Current prices are reasonable, as circulated examples can be had for less than $100, and that price includes $50 worth of spending power at current exchange rates.

If older currency is more to your liking, check out Canada’s Series 1937 issues. Even the humble $1 is finely detailed with intricate engraving, and the backs feature lush allegorical themes.

Oregon Trail Commemorative Half Dollar

An image of a 1936 Oregon Half Dollar.
1936 Oregon Half Dollar. Image: CoinWeek.

It’s too bad that the United States Mint didn’t strike this James Earle Fraser and Laura Gaudin Fraser masterpiece for circulation, but the coin had a remarkable 13-year run.

More than 131,000 pieces were struck at Philadelphia and San Francisco in 1926, and small runs from all three mints followed in 1928, 1933, 1934, and 1936 to 1939.

The last two years were PDS sets struck during the commemorative coin hype and overkill of the late 1930s. Pick up a type piece or go for the whole 14-piece set, as there are far worse coins to accumulate.

Peruvian Liberty Seated Coins

An image of a Peruvian 1/2 Dinero coin minted in 1896. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1896 Peru 1/2 Dinero. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Suppose the Peruvian silver 1/2 dinero (identical in weight to the U.S. half dime), dinero (a silver dime twin), 1/2 dinero (exact dimensions as the half dollar), and dinero seem vaguely familiar to American numismatists. In that case, it’s because they have more than a passing resemblance to Liberty Seated coinage.

Take that concept, give it a South American makeover, and you have a group of eye-catching coins. Peru issued this style of dinero coinage from 1863 to 1917. The series is rich with overdates and other varieties. Pursuing these could become a long-term project. Circulated 1/2 dinero coins cost $5 or less.

The Coinage of Queen Victoria

An image illustrating examples of the coinage of Queen Victoria of England.
The coinage of Queen Victoria of England. Image: CoinWeek.

Queen Victoria reigned over Great Britain and a vast colonial empire from 1837 to 1901. As the queen aged, The Royal Mint modified her portrait periodically on English and overseas coinage. The veiled head version of 1893 to 1901 accurately represents a mature and dignified figure with an understated flair by the staff of the British Royal Mint.

The best part? There are Victoria veiled head coins for every budget. Thrifty collectors can choose from copper farthings, halfpennies, and pennies. There is an extensive selection of silver pieces, and the gold sovereign is well worth owning.

Classic American Gold Coins

An image of an 1912 Indian Head Half Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1912 Indian Head Half Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

It would take some searching to find a coin enthusiast who wouldn’t be interested in owning a $5 Indian. Higher gold prices in recent years mean premiums over melt have diminished for lightly circulated specimens. In some cases, adding a common-date coin can be a real upgrade to a collection. If a 1909-D or 1912 Indian half eagle with its incuse design is the item in question, there won’t be any buyer’s remorse.

Central American One Colón Currency Notes

An image of a 1957 Specimen 1 Colón currency note. Image: Stack's Bowers.
An image of a 1957 Specimen 1 colón currency note. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

El Salvador’s one colón note of 1944 to 1968 is a prime example of eye candy on the cheap. This note displays a small farmer plowing his field with an ox. The black portrait on an orange note is vivid and beautifully detailed. Expect to spend $15 to $35 for a lightly circulated note, and a problem-free CU will cost under $100. That’s especially true for the Series 1964 issues.

Certified Walking Liberty Half Dollars in Choice to Gem Grades

An image of a 1942 Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1942 Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

The Walking Liberty half dollar may be a common coin, but that doesn’t diminish the appeal of a lustrous “Walker.” There’s always a decent selection of PCGS- and NGC-slabbed pieces at any show, on eBay, and at many coin shops. Strikes can be weak (especially on S-mint Walking Liberties), so scrutinize potential purchases. Obtain as many dates as the budget allows; if you desire more than one, consider building a short set.

These Japanese 1000 Yen Notes Are (Known) for the Birds

A Photo of the front and back of a Japan 1000 Yen Note issued in 2001.
The front and back of a Japan 1000 Yen Note issued in 2001.

The two Manchurian cranes on the back distinguish the blue 1,000 yen note from 1984 to 2004. The current exchange rate of 1,000 yen is $6.75, so expect to pay some premium over face value. If high-denomination bills are more to your liking, the 10,000 yen from the same series features an eye-pleasing pair of pheasants.

Gold Bullion for Cat Fanciers

An Image of the front and back of a Pobjoy Mint Gold Bullion coin.
The front and back of a Pobjoy Mint Gold Bullion coin.

If cats are your thing, the Isle of Man has issued cat-themed gold pieces since 1988. A different breed or scene is featured each year. The Cat series includes a 1/25-ounce version for use as jewelry and 1/10, 1/5/ 1/2, and one-ounce rounds. Made by the privately owned Pobjoy Mint, the Isle of Man proves that modern bullion pieces can have plenty of variety and appealing designs. Absolute purr-fection!

Chihuahua Mexican Civil War Currency Notes

We’re not referring to the tiny dog breed, as Chihuahua is also a northern Mexican state that borders west Texas and New Mexico. Like other areas of the nation, Chihuahua issued its currency during the turmoil that engulfed Mexico from the revolutionary era of 1910 into the ’20s.

A photograph of the face of a 1915 Chihuahua, Mexico 5 Pesos Note.
The face of a 1915 Chihuahua, Mexico 5 Pesos Note.

Chihuahua’s five and 10-peso notes feature beautiful vignettes produced by the American Bank Note Company.

An underground miner at work fronts the 5 peso note, while a cowboy on horseback leading a cattle drive is the focal point on the 10 peso. Even with higher prices in recent years due to demand from eBay customers, these nearly century-old notes should be at most $45 for the pair in Crisp Uncirculated condition.

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Al Doyle
Al Doyle
Al Doyle has written about coins for several different publishers, including the columns "$100 and Under" (2013- ) and "Budget Minded" (2022- ) for The Numismatist. Al has also written for the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

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