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Some Specialized Collecting Themes
These are banknotes that are obsolete because the currency has been made obsolete. Examples: American Confederate States paper money after the end of the American Civil War. British pre-decimal coinage after the introduction of decimalization, and old European currencies after the adoption of the Euro.
These are typically notes issued by private regional banks. There were many of these in Britain, Australia and the USA, particularly in the 19th Century.
Yes, people do collect forgeries. And there have been thousands of different forgeries that have found their way into circulation. Example: During WW2, the Germans manufactured millions of the British white notes of the period. These were dropped from aircraft onto Britain in an attempt to destabilize the British Economy.
Civil War Banknotes
Banknotes of the world's various civil wars are another collecting theme. Notable example are the American Civil War, the Yugoslavian Civil War, the Spanish Civil War and the Mexican Revolution.
Many countries have suffered runaway inflation during recent history. When this happens, the currency unit sinks in value fast and it's not unusual to see banknotes with multi-million denominations of the national currency unit. Sometimes the denominations rise to billions as in the case of post-WWI Germany and Hungary and in Yugoslavia during the civil war of the 1990s. When this happens, local regions of a country often start producing their own 'emergency money' - which is in itself another popular collecting theme.
Emergency money is often produced by localised communities and regions during time of conflict and hyperinflation, where the national currency has become either illegal or unreliable as a stable measure of value. Prolific examples were produced in Germany and Austria after WWI. Philippine resistance factions produced their own currency during the Japanese occupation of WWII. And this brings us to another popular collecting theme:
Japanese Invasion Money
The Japanese Government produced its own currency notes for use in each of the countries it occupied during WW2. Many of these issues look very similar and typically is the dollar as the currency unit, and the main way to determine the country of circulation is the two-letter overprint found on these notes.
WW2 banknotes are another popular collecting theme. It is curious to note that no banknote was ever issued bearing the portrait of Adolf Hitler.
19th Century Banknotes
The 19th Century was a particularly interesting period for banknotes, because this was a period before national central note-issuing banks had become ubiquitous. So the currency notes of nations were often produced by private banks. Many of them were hand-signed, and many were uniface (printed on one side only).
Colonial Paper Money
This is mainly the early North American paper money prior to the Declaration if Independence. A number of different currencies were circulating in N. America before this point, including British sterling and German Thalers (precursor to the 'dollar').
German & Austrian Notgeld
These are the regional emergency notes issued during the hyperinflation period following WWI. There was a shortage of metal due to the war effort and so there was a need for small notes to. German and Austrian 'klein notgeld' is similar in appearance but are easily distinguishable by the currency unit (Marks for Germany and Hellers for Austria... but both counties used pfennigs which can result in some confusion).
Collecting American Cheques
This rich and visually rewarding area of collecting makes an interesting alternative to collectable banknotes. Hundreds of banks throughout North American were issuing attractive-looking bank chacks (cheques) during the 19th Century. Most of these banks were concentrated in the Northeast corner of the USA.