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1902 Series $5.00 Banknote . Washed?

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New Member
United States
44 Posts
 Posted 06/19/2021  9:16 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add Shenandoah1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I am an ebay seller who specializes in U.S. coins. I sell very little currency and am not an expert in it. At all.

So I was hoping someone could tell me if they think this banknote has been washed. I plan on listing it on ebay and want to provide as accurate a description as possible.

The person I bought it from said he thought it might be washed, but wasn't sure, and I have no way to tell.

It doesn't feel much different than other notes I've sold. It's fairly limp, but with a small degree of crispness remaining. I would grade it in the VF range.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.


Valued Member
United States
52 Posts
 Posted 06/20/2021  02:14 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CoolBreeze to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It was probably washed at one time- many large size notes were. If you look at the back of the note you see that white web like pattern in the open spaces? Some of those areas and near the fold lines should appear slightly darker due to the signs of normal circulation. It's a lower end VF note, similar to a VF 25 in grade. Also Pittsburgh is a very common town. There are a large number of banks on Pittsburgh- 45. On this bank there are over 400 large size notes and 650 small.

*** Edited by Staff - Please review the rules that you agreed to when you registered. ***
Edited by CoolBreeze
06/20/2021 02:15 am
Pillar of the Community
United States
3675 Posts
 Posted 06/20/2021  08:39 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hfjacinto to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have a charter 252 small sized note. It's a common bank but to me it's a nice note. If it was washed it was a long time ago. I like the note it's a nice VF grade which is what I collect. When you list it let us know.
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United States
59457 Posts
 Posted 06/20/2021  09:05 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I don't see any particular evidence that this note has been washed.
Valued Member
United States
443 Posts
 Posted 06/20/2021  4:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add captaincoffee to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'd say the signatures on this are especially bold, so if it was indeed washed, it did not damage the bill much. I'd check to see if the bill has any scent, since that's a giveaway on some washed bills. Barring that, Based on the condition of the bill and comparing it to what is "normal" on ebay, I think you are okay to just post it without a caveat.
Valued Member
United States
125 Posts
 Posted 06/21/2021  1:34 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jonjrl1963 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Usually, washing/then pressing will flatten out the folds...This note does not look washed or pressed at all.
New Member
United States
44 Posts
 Posted 06/21/2021  6:01 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Shenandoah1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks everyone for your feedback -- I really appreciate the help.

It has no smell, as one of the comments suggested checking for, and doesn't look anything like the known-washed examples I've seen online

So based on that, and the majority opinion, I think I'll go ahead and list it as is. I offer no-questions, free returns so the buyer can always return it at no cost if they disagree.

It will be up on ebay later tonight. Seller name: shenandoah.blue.

Thanks again.
- Rob




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United States
3675 Posts
 Posted 06/21/2021  6:20 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hfjacinto to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Cool! I saved you as a seller! Good luck!
Valued Member
United States
52 Posts
 Posted 06/22/2021  07:51 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CoolBreeze to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Captaincoffee, these signatures will typically not show signs of washing because they are engraved signatures, not hand signed or stamped. Basically you could wash it multiple times and they would probably still appear bold. The note may not have been washed recently but it could have been long ago. Many large size notes were washed in the 80's and 90's and were left with a web like folding pattern. The back side of the note shows considerable circulation but the note appears exceptionally bright. That is sometimes a sign a note could have been washed long ago and then stored. Can we say with certainty, no, but I wouldn't discount the possibility. In my opinion this note may have been washed long ago. If submitted for grading I don't think this note will earn an EPQ even though it appears bright for the grade.
Valued Member
United States
443 Posts
 Posted 06/22/2021  09:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add captaincoffee to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
CoolBreeze, you are correct. I was thinking of the gall ink and stamped signatures. However, it got me thinking about whether there was a hard switch or each bank did what they wanted. My book just has a general comment that signatures were signed, stamped, or engraved, and I haven't been able to find any more information online. Are you aware of a resource that has more details?
Valued Member
United States
52 Posts
 Posted 06/22/2021  3:07 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CoolBreeze to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Captaincoffee, The best resource for learning details about nationals is United States Large Size National Bank Notes by Peter Huntoon. A lot of the nuances concerning nationals is in that book.

To expand on the previous topic. Many collectors have heard you want to avoid washed notes. This is kind of a half truth within our hobby. The notes you want to avoid are the ones washed with strong detergents and were scrubbed clean. These notes show substantial ink loss and a worn away look. Avoid may be too strong a word. You don't want to pay higher grade or original paper prices for these kinds of notes. On the flip side many notes were washed long ago and remain perfectly fine collectibles. They show clear signs of heavy circulation but still bright in appearance with no substantial signs of ink loss or rubbing. These notes make great collectibles. The types of notes where this is most noticeable is the 1914 FRN red seal series. A note from this series washed with a strong detergent and rubbed will absolutely ruin the red seal and thus the note. However if it was washed with a mild detergent and not scrubbed the seal will lighten some, but it still remains a viable collectible. Both notes were washed, but one was ruined and the other still makes a fine collectible. So while many notes were washed long ago it's how a note was treated that truly matters.
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United States
3256 Posts
 Posted 06/22/2021  3:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SteveInTampa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The BEP went through a period of time around 1910 where they washed circulating notes at the bureau. They reportedly could clean up to 80,000 notes a day. The paper money was sandwiched between two canvas belts and was run though very hot water and a mild detergent to extend the life of the notes.


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Bedrock of the Community
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United States
59457 Posts
 Posted 06/22/2021  3:41 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for that, Steve. I was unaware of that.
New Member
United States
44 Posts
 Posted 06/23/2021  11:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Shenandoah1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks again to all who have replied. I was delayed in getting the note listed on ebay the other night, but it is up now for anyone who is interested.
Thanks!
New Member
United States
44 Posts
 Posted 06/23/2021  11:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Shenandoah1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
hfjacinto, thanks!
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