Many of the World's Finest Specimen & Proof Banknotes



World Banknotes/China The National Commercial & Savings Bank Ltd. (Shanghai) 5 Dollars

Pick #S453 Specimen 1924 PMG 66 EPQ (none graded higher)



Banknotes from Around the World. This is a museum-quality collection of world banknotes. This site displays hundreds of world banknotes, many of which are among the finest in existence. Most of the pieces are scarce, the intaglio printing superb, the colors outstanding, and the grades mostly gem or better. Dates generally range mostly from 1850 to 1930.


Buy, Sell, or Trade. There are many duplicates in this world banknotes collection, and some of them are available for sale. Links to the offerings are displayed on the individual country pages. Although all these items were available when the page was prepared, individual items are subject to prior sale. If you desire to purchase one or more banknotes that we have listed for sale, please contact to be sure that the note has not been sold yet. We accept PayPal and personal checks, but new customers may have to await clearance of their check before we will ship. We reserve the right to refuse sales to any person or to ship to any country.


There are more than 1,000 world banknotes in the collection, and they represent more than 50 countries. Some of the strongest representations are the old banknotes of China, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Cuba. The world banknotes in this collection were accumulated over decades from private sales and public auctions.


World Banknotes by Country




Dominican Republic






Hawaii (pre-U.S.)




El Salvador




Costa Rica


Iran (Persia)






Viet Nam



Other Countries





The American Bank Note Company Archives. A significant percentage of the world's banknotes were printed by the American Bank Note Company and its predecessors. ABNC printed banknotes for the U.S. government (prior to 1874), foreign governments, and private banks. It also printed stamps, stock and bond certificates, and other materials. Sale of items from the ABNC archives began in 1990-91. Three auction houses, Christie's; H.R. Harmer, Inc.; and Stack's, have sold much of the material from the archives. There is an active aftermarket for items from the archives.


Intaglio Printing of World Banknotes. Intaglio is a printmaking technique in which the image is incised (usually engraved) into a plate (normally copper or zinc). Banknotes are made by applying ink to the plate and then wiping off the excess from the face, leaving ink only in the engraved spaces. A damp piece of paper is placed on top, and the plate and paper are run through a printing press that presses the paper into the ink. The paper then has on it a mirror image of the engravings on the plate. Intaglio-printed banknotes often have some texture from printing press pressure into the engravings.


About Specimen and Proof Banknotes. Proofs and specimens were not sent into general circulation. Proof banknotes were generally test runs for the printing plates and designs; they were mostly single sided and without serial numbers or signatures. Proofs were also sometimes run to test color options. Many of the proof banknotes were mounted on cardboard for stability in working their way through the approval process. The mounted notes often had printers' notations written in pencil on the back side.


Many of the specimens were samples used to check the design and/or colors prior to full printing runs. Others were sent to central banks to help them recognize the issued banknotes. Most of the specimen notes had serial numbers that were all zeros.


Professional Grading of Banknotes' Condition; Population Reports. Most of the world banknotes in this collection have been professionally graded by Paper Money Guarantee ("PMG"), an independent paper money grading service headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, and PCGS. One of the PMG resources is its online world banknote population report on the number and grade of each banknote it has graded. Many of the world banknotes in this collection represent the finest examples ever graded by PMG.



brazil s551Bs 66

venezuela s273s 66



Please also visit,

an introduction & pricing guide to U.S. obsolete currency.


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