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What is the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2016
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The standard catalog of world paper money is a comprehensive illustrated guide to paper bills. This three-volume publication is most commonly used by collectors. The catalog contains the paper currency of hundreds of nations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Each entry contains photographs of the front and back of each bill, identifying information, current market value and a series of appendices.

The catalog is organized alphabetically by country of origin. In addition to front and back photographs of the bills, each entry has an identification code and denomination, printer name, and valuation information. The appendices contain general reference information, including tables for foreign exchange, bank identification and international numerics. There is also an extensive color gallery of selected bills. Two indexes organize the bills by country, issuer, and bank.

Currency is primarily graded according to its condition in the standard catalog of world paper money. The categories for modern bills include very good, very fine, and uncirculated. Older bills are graded either good, fine, or extremely fine. Value is also determined based on the availability of the bill on the market, features in the design of a particular issue, and the issuing bank.

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Originally published in 1975, the first issues of the standard catalog of world paper money were compiled by Alfred Pick. He devised an alpha-numerical system of coding each bill which is still in use today. In recognition of his contribution, the publication is commonly referred to as the Pick Catalogs. Krause publishing took over production of the catalog in 1994.

Pick’s alpha-numeric coding system provides basic information about each bill. Each code begins with an upper-case letter prefix, and is followed by a number. Occasionally, a lower-case letter follows the number to provide further identification. The first letter portion of the code indicates the series of the bill, the numbers indicate the series date and denomination, and the lower-case letters further identify any variations of the bill in question.

In addition to the books, there is also a separately available CD-ROM version of the standard catalog of world paper money. It consists of PDF pages of the entries in the books. This format can be useful for collectors, as the format enables a viewer to zoom in on pages for a closer look at details and search the PDF for codes and phrases. It is also possible to print out separate pages from the CD-ROM — an especially helpful feature for collectors who wish to take information along to trading events.

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