If you’ve ever watched shows such as “Antiques Roadshow”, you may day dream of finding an old hidden treasure in the attic. We all know that present day currency holds value of its own, but what about bills from years past? Maybe you have a 1950 $10 bill in your possession, or even a 1950 $20 bill. If you’ve ever wondered what your 1950 $20 bill might be worth; this is the guide for you! There are different factors affecting the value of your old currency, and there are also different options when deciding what to do with your old bill.
What Currency Value Means
Although you may initially think of “value” as a single number for a single bill, there can actually be a range. The Enoch Pratt Library has a useful guide around this topic. Different values for a 1950 $20 bill include:
Book Value: This is the generally accepted retail price of a bill or coin, and the number may be published in guides such as the Standard Catalog of World Coins.
Buy Price: This is the price a bill and coins dealer would be willing to pay you for your item. Keep in mind, dealers are in the business of selling bills and coins. As a general member of the public with the occasional collectible bill or coin, this is the number that is most relevant to you.
Retail Value: If by chance you are looking to buy collectible bills and coins, this is the number you’ll be interested in. The retail value is the price a dealer would sell a bill or coin for (which would result in a profit for the dealer).
Calculating What Your 1950 $20 Bill is Worth
After gaining a general understanding of what determines the value of your bill, we can investigate specific attributes that could increase the selling price of your currency. Price is determined by first establishing a base level value for the most common versions of the bill, and then adding extra value for unique attributes on your specific bill. It is important to keep in mind that the value added by special traits can vary by buyer.
The $20 bill has had a long and varied history, however the year 1950 didn’t mark any historic updates to the bill. This means that although the design is slightly different than today’s bills, they are generally worth face value. Bills from 1950 onward are considered “modern” and aren’t popular among collectors.
Traits That Add Value
Although most $20 bills from the year 1950 are generally accepted at face value, there are a few qualities that could increase the value of your bill. These traits include “special” serial numbers, misprints, and “star prints”. Below you will find details about these unique traits.
Special Serial Numbers
An identifying serial number is printed on every single paper currency in the United States. While the string of numbers and letters may seem random, the sequence actually says a lot about the origin of the bill. For example, the first letter in the sequence indicates which Federal Reserve Bank issued the bill. There are 12 FRBs, and each location has it’s own identification letter. The last letter in the number is the series number, and represents which design iteration the bill is a part of. Within the serial number there are two traits to look for: special codes and star notes.
Value can be added to your bill by the presence of some special serial numbers and combinations. Some collectors prefer certain sequences over the next, so the amount of value added by a special code is subjective. Examples of special codes include:
Solid Serial Number – C77777777A
Low Serial Number – L00000001C (two digits or less)
Trailing Zero Serial Number – C50000000A (seven zeros after a number)
Ladder Serial Number – L12345678C (sequence of consecutive numbers)
Repeater Serial Number – C1919191A (two numbers repeated)
Binary Serial Number – E10010101C (all zeros and ones)
Stand Alone Serial Number – V00200000D (number surrounded by zeros)
Radar Serial Number – L59911995A (numbers read the same both ways)
Flipper Serial Number – C00078000A (number reads the same upside down)
Special codes generally add more value to smaller bills, but a special code on your 1950 20 dollar bill is still something to show a dealer.
If an imperfect sheet of bills is detected in the printing process there must be a reprint. The reprinted versions are indicated with a small star at the end of the serial number. A star note from 1950 would have a small star with an open center. Unfortunately, a star on a bill printed from 1950 onward won’t increase value greatly.
Although the Bureaus of Engraving and Printing tries to stay vigilant when it comes to misprints, sometimes mistakes happen. Since mistakes are a rare occasion, the value of a misprinted bill may be greater than its perfect counterparts. In order to retain value of misprinted money, the bills should be in excellent condition. Individual dealers will determine the amount of value added by a misprint.There are many different recorded misprints, and more severe misprints add more value. Below you will find examples of common and/or subtle mistakes.
Seals and serial numbers shifted to the left or right – These are desirable misprints because of the severity of the mishap. A bill with this trait will have the seal and serial numbers sitting on the face of the individual on the bill.
“Stuck” digits in the serial number – A bill with this misprint will have numbers in the serial sequence out of line with the rest. This is a fairly common mishap, so it is not very valuable.
Seals and serial numbers printed on the back – This type of misprint can add significant value to bills, especially if the bill is in great condition
In conclusion, the art of pricing collectible paper currency is a complex system based on many factors. A $20 bill from 1950 without any special codes or misprints will likely only earn you face value. If the bill happens to be in mint condition, some collectors may be willing to buy it from you for up to $40. Additionally, value added my special codes, star prints, or misprints will depend on the supply and demand of the market when you decide to sell. Since the bill is considered modern, it probably won’t be extremely valuable without a truly remarkable and rare misprint (in the eyes of the dealer). If you suspect your bill may be special you should consult a few different dealers and buyers to see how much they would be willing to pay.
Where to Sell Your 1950 20 Dollar Bill
If you decide to sell your bill you’ll have options both online and in-person. It should be notes that the evaluation of your bill is subjective, so pricing may vary between buyers. Below is a guide to different outlets to sell your currency.
Auction sites such as eBay are a great place to start the selling process. Before listing your bill you’ll be able to browse others’ listings to compare prices. These types of sites also give you control over your pricing. Your potential buyer won’t be able to see the bill in person, so quality photos and descriptions are an absolute must.
Currency Specific Sites
There are many websites dedicated to bills and coins, and can be a great place to learn about and sell your bill. Most of these sites offer comprehensive guides to currency traits and pricing. These guides will give you a solid idea of what you have and what price you can expect before reaching out to the website admins. Additionally, it is important to have high quality photos and descriptions prepared to present to the potential buyer.
A dealer near you can inspect your currency in person. Searching for coin dealers in your city will give you an idea of where to find these individuals in your town. Don’t let the term “coin dealer” fool you because many will inspect and buy paper currency as well.
How to Preserve the Worth of Your Bill so Its Value Will Not Decrease
While the current value of your bill isn’t much more than face value, it’s possible that demand could rise in the future. In order to preserve your paper currency, the Littleton Coin Company suggests these precautions:
-Always store paper currency flat and unfolded
-Keep bills in a protective holder or album
-Store the currency in an area with consistent and moderate temperatures
-Avoid storing the bills in an area with high humidity
1950 20 Dollar Bill: Conclusion
This bill is new enough to be considered a modern bill. There were also no changes done to the $20 bill this year to create many errors or unique identifiers and thus make the bill worth more. If your bill is in mint condition, it can fetch twice face value. And if it has any oddities such as interesting serial number, etc. it can raise the value a bit more. For an exact appraisal though, leave a comment below and you’ll get one.