The Collector‘s Guide to 1963 $5 Bill Values

As a collectible currency expert and lifelong notaphilist, I‘m often asked about the value and desirability of the 1963 series $5 United States Note. The short answer is that like most collectible bills, the value depends heavily on the condition, serial number, and specific variety. A circulated 1963 $5 bill with no special features is only worth its face value of $5. The same note in gem uncirculated condition with a unique serial number could easily bring $500 or more at auction.

But there‘s so much more to the story of these fascinating bills. The 1963 series marked the end of an era for the $5 denomination and U.S. currency in general. It was the last series to feature the iconic red seals and serial numbers that had been in use since the late 1920s. Collecting them now is like owning a piece of American monetary history.

Whether you‘re an experienced collector or just starting out, this guide will equip you with the expert knowledge you need to find, value, and appreciate the 1963 $5 bill. We‘ll dive deep into the history, varieties, and special features that make these notes so prized among collectors. By the end, you‘ll have a clearer picture of the current market and what to look for when buying or selling. Let‘s get started!

The Colorful History of U.S. $5 Bills

To fully understand the significance of the 1963 series, it helps to start with a brief history of the $5 bill itself. The denomination has been in continuous production since the 1860s, with the first issues featuring a portrait of Alexander Hamilton on the front. From 1869 to 1914, the face design was changed to feature Andrew Jackson instead.

In 1928, the U.S. Treasury introduced the new small-size currency we‘re familiar with today. The first small-size $5 bills were known as Legal Tender Notes and featured a red seal and serial numbers along with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the front. Other types of $5 notes like Silver Certificates and Federal Reserve Notes were also issued over the following decades, distinguished by blue and green seals respectively.

The 1963 series $5 United States Note was the last of its kind. It was officially discontinued in 1969 and replaced by the $5 Federal Reserve Note, which is still in use today. This makes the 1963 notes some of the last "old-style" bills with the red seals and serial numbers that had been a mainstay of U.S. currency for over 40 years.

Identifying Features of 1963 $5 Bills

Over 100 million 1963 series $5 bills were printed, including over 2 million star notes. To the untrained eye, they may look the same as any other $5 bill from the era. But there are a few key features that distinguish them:

  • Red seal to the right of Lincoln‘s portrait
  • Matching red serial numbers
  • Series 1963 date on the lower right
  • Signatures of Treasurer Kathryn O‘Hay Granahan and Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon

Regular 1963 $5 bills have serial numbers that include a Federal Reserve district letter at the beginning and end. Notes from each district carry a different letter:

  • A – Boston
  • B – New York
  • C – Philadelphia
  • D – Cleveland
  • E – Richmond
  • F – Atlanta
  • G – Chicago
  • H – St. Louis
  • I – Minneapolis
  • J – Kansas City
  • K – Dallas
  • L – San Francisco

Star notes have a star symbol in place of the last letter. These were used as replacements when there was a printing error on a normal note. The rarity and value of star notes varies by district and other factors like condition and serial numbers.

Other varieties to look out for are misprints, double dies, ink smears, misaligned seals, and mismatched or inverted serial numbers. Major errors like these can actually make a note more valuable to collectors. However, it‘s important to have them authenticated as true Mint errors and not just post-production damage.

Market Values and What to Look For

With so many factors at play, putting a definitive value on a 1963 $5 bill can be a challenge. In general, the value breaks down something like this:

Condition Regular Bill Star Note
Circulated $5 $10-25
Fine $10-15 $25-50
Very Fine $15-25 $50-100
Extremely Fine $25-50 $100-300
AU $50-100 $300-500
Uncirculated $100-500+ $500-1000+

The most valuable 1963 $5 bills are those with special serial numbers and premium uncirculated condition. Things like solid numbers (e.g. 22222222), radars (e.g. 89988998), repeaters (11121112), ladders (12345678) and low numbers (00000100) can push the value to $1,000 or more in top condition. Star notes with these numbers command the highest premiums.

Other rare varieties can also bring big money. For example, the 1963 $5 bill with experimental serial number I00000180I sold for $7,200 in a 2015 Heritage Auction. Double dies, mismatched serial numbers, and other printing errors add value too, but it depends on the specific mistake and the overall condition.

When examining any 1963 $5 bill, pay close attention to the details. Look for signs of circulation like creases, folds, stains, or tears. The fewer signs of actual use, the better. Uncirculated notes should have perfect centering, bright ink, and original paper wave without any visible flaws. Having a note professionally graded by PCGS or PMG is the best way to ensure its true condition and value.

Tips for Collectors

Whether you have a specific 1963 $5 bill you‘re looking to sell or you want to start collecting them yourself, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Educate yourself on the different varieties and what to look for. The more you know, the better deals and rarities you‘ll be able to find.

  • Always buy from reputable dealers with a proven track record. Counterfeits and altered notes are out there, so it‘s important to trust who you‘re buying from.

  • Consider getting your notes professionally graded, especially if they‘re rare or high value. It can give you peace of mind and help with resale value down the line.

  • Be patient and shop around. Don‘t feel like you need to overpay or buy the first note you see. The right deal will come along if you take your time.

  • Network with other collectors and dealers. Join forums, attend shows, and build relationships. Other experts can be a great resource for advice and leads on new notes for your collection.

  • If you‘re looking to sell, consider multiple avenues like auction houses, private dealers, and collector groups. Get multiple opinions on value before accepting an offer.

  • Store your 1963 $5 bills properly to maintain their condition. Use archival-quality currency holders and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture.

  • Enjoy the hobby! Collecting currency is a fun and fascinating way to own a piece of history. Don‘t get too caught up in the investment aspect and remember to appreciate the artistry and significance of the bills themselves.

Whether you‘re drawn to the history, the artistry, or the potential profit, collecting 1963 $5 bills can be a rewarding pursuit. By staying educated and diligent, you can assemble a collection that will bring you pride and value for years to come. I hope this guide has given you a solid foundation to start from.

Final Thoughts and Musings

With collectible markets as dynamic as they are, you never know when the next big money note will surface or from where. The record-setting 1963 $5 star notes we‘re seeing today were plucked from circulation decades ago by sharp-eyed collectors who saw something special. Yet for every rarity we know about, there could be a dozen more out there waiting to be discovered.

Ultimately, that‘s what I love about this hobby—the idea that the next great find is always lurking just around the corner, waiting to be snatched up by an observant collector. If you‘re just getting started with 1963 $5 bills, I encourage you to immerse yourself in the chase. Learn as much as you can and form your own opinions on what makes a note special.

Whether your treasure is a high grade star note, a unique serial number, or just a bill with a story and character that speaks to you, collect what you love and the rest will follow. At the end of the day, the true value of a 1963 $5 bill goes beyond any price guide or population report. It‘s a tangible link to our shared history and a hobby that can provide a lifetime of fascination and inspiration for those who embrace it.

I hope this guide has given you a deeper understanding and appreciation of these remarkable pieces of currency. As always, I‘m here to answer any other questions you may have. Until next time, happy collecting!

Sources and Further Reading:

  • Friedberg, Arthur L. & Ira S. The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Paper Money
  • Schwartz, John. Standard Guide to Small Size U.S. Paper Money
  • Bowers, David. U.S. Paper Currency – The Essential Guide for Collectors
  • Heritage Auctions (
  • Professional Coin Grading Service (
  • Paper Money Guaranty (

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