Papermoney Dictionary


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c — Pricelist abbreviation for circa, Latin for about, as with dates [c1937].

Cabo Verde — Cape Verde, in Portuguese.

caisse — Treasury, in French.

caja — Treasury, in Spanish.

Cambodge — Cambodia, in French.

cancelled note — A note which has been redeemed or paid by the issuer. Cancellations short of complete destruction are indicated in various ways, such as stamping, writing, cuts, holes, etc.

cardboard money — Money printed on cardboard instead of paper stock. Specifically, substitute issues by business organizations during the coin shortage resulting from the Civil War.

card money — Playing cards used as money in the late 18th Century.. Specifically, certain early money of Canada, printed on actual playing cards, when France failed to supply her troops with cash. Subsequent issues were designed like playing cards.

cartones — Mexican paper monies, often issued in series, by a multitude of issuers, usually of low denominations, and generally made of cardboard of various colors, were widely used during the Revolution, 1914-17.

casa — Treasury, in Portuguese.

cash — Money or its equivalent paid promptly after purchasing.

cashier's check — A check drawn by a bank on its own funds and signed by the cashier.

cassa — Treasury, in Italian.

catalog — Aka, catalogue. You have a catalog, you say?  Yes, but which kind?  Is it a Reference Catalog, or merely a sales catalog?  Please refer to the next two entries, below.

catalog, reference — A reference catalog strives to present as complete a listing as possible of a given [collecting] area or field. The info is organized in a logical, user friendly manner, using techniques such as alphabetization and chronological arrangements. Many collectibles catalogs also give valuations (catalog values).

catalog, sales — An extensive pricelist, often with expanded descriptions, sometimes also containing illustrations. The primary, if not the sole, purpose of a sales catalog is to generate cash flow (sales). While it behooves the seller to present mouth watering, reach-for-the-checkbook info, no completeness of info can or need be assumed.

catalog value(s) — Market price research being a pseudoscience due to the multitude of variables involved, the only generalization that can be made about catalog values (=valuations) is that they are a good source of info regarding relative values and/or relative scarcities. Modern cataloguers tend to overestimate valuations. This is done, I suspect, to help dealers cope, because without dealers, where would the cataloguers be! With cat values usually somewhat higher than market values, dealers can always promote the idea that their prices are bargains, ie, "below catalog". Without this, they would have to go out of business because the public is totally mindwashed by modern-day advertising. This can be illustrated by a new service station putting up a "50% OFF TIRE SALE TODAY ONLY" on its grand opening day, and NEVER taking it down.

CCRT — Check Collectors Round Table.

CDI Continuum Theory — A theory involving collectibles, proposed by Mike Tiitus, which holds that a persons cannot be permanently described as being any one thing. For example, a Collector may also be an Investor; and, when selling all or a part of his holdings, may act as a Dealer. Similarly, a general worldwide Dealer may Collect a country or an area, and may Invest in yet another area. Etc, etc. The theory demonstrates some of the problems manifested during the formulation of membership lists and mailing lists; such problems were particularly severe before adequate database programs and home computers became easily affordable.

Cechy a Morava — Bohemia and Moravia.

centering — An aspect of condition, qv, of a collectible. On a perfectly centered note or stamp the design is exactly in the middle, ie, centered. Stamp collectors are generally much more concerned with centering than papermoney collectors. Coin collectors need not be concerned with centering, as coins are manufactured individually, ie, not in sheets to be perforated or cut. In general, when left and right margins are uneven the aesthetic effect is more disturbing than when top and bottom margins are uneven; this probably has something to do with the fact that human eyes are situated horizontally with respect to each other, and thus more prone to notice vertical axis asymmetries.

certificate — A written testimony to the truth of any fact. See: Gold Certificates, Silver Certificates.

certificate of deposit — A written acknowledgment by a corporation that it has received a stated sum of money on deposit. Such certificates have occasionally circulated as currency.

certificate, stock — An instrument evidencing ownership of one or more shares of the capital stock of a corporation.

certified check — A check certified, ie, guaranteed, to be good by the bank upon which it is drawn.

Ceskoslovenska — Czechoslovakia.

chartered bank — An American or Canadian bank operating under the authority of a government (federal or state) charter.

check — A written order (drawn by the maker) directing a bank or banker (the payer) to pay money (to a payee) as therein stated. A form of money, a check differs from currency in that it isn't restricted to fixed denominations; on the other hand, it must be endorsed by the payee before he will be paid.

chemicograph — A printing process using chemical action.

chemin de fer — Railroad, in French.

cheque — Check, British spelling variation.

Chinese Burial Notes — See: Hell Money.

chit(s) — Among many other things, a voucher for a small amount owed for food, drink, etc. See: military chits.

Chosen — Korea, in Korean.

CI — Collectors item(s).

citta — City, in Italian.

cld — Cleaned, pricelist abbreviation.

cleaning — Kids, don't try this at home!  Seriously, the cleaning of notes and coins is something that is best left to experts; amateurs usually only make things worse.

cm — Centimeter(s), a universal abbreviation. [2.54cm = 1 inch]

collection — An organized (or at least potentially organizable) assemblage of collectors items. A grouping of CI lacking organization is merely an accumulation.

collector — One who gathers specimens, in an organized manner, as for study, ornament, or enjoyment.

collector counterfeit — Not intended for spending, but to fool collectors, usually long after the item has ceased to be a medium of exchange. For example, numerous collector counterfeits exists of Greek, Roman, & Medieval coins. See also: contemporary counterfeit.

collectors items — Items which exist for clearly discernible pur-poses other than the mere existence of collectors. Note that barbed wire clearly qualifies. The criterion is function, not form. This im-plies that collectors, upon encountering potentially collectible items, themselves decide to collect them.

Collectors Junque — A cute term for Collectors Trash, qv.

Collectors Trash — Items which are created because collectors exist! Function is usually nonexistent. Collectors (or victims) are generated with overkill publicity, usually claiming kinship with existing hobbies. See also: speculative.

college currency — See: business college currency.

colonial currency (or notes) — Papermonies issued by the various American colonies, in the 17th and 18th Centuries, until The War of Independence. The earliest known is a 10 December 1690 issue of Massachusetts. Most contain a reference to King George III.

commemorative — A stamp, coin, papermoney, etc, issued to mark, honor, or observe a person, place or event, or to preserve the memory of someone or something.

compact disk (CD) — What your papermoney catalog will be on, with all notes illustrated in living color, by the year 2000, if not somewhat earlier. This prediction has been brought to you as a special service by the editor of this book.  .....  The previous prediction was made in 1993 in our Papermoney Dictionary.  Now it is June 2002, and it hasn't happened yet.  Everything was moving soooo fast in nine years ago.  Where did it all go so terribly wrong?  Perhaps the printed catalog publishers haven't yet figured out how to sell cyber-info?

compagnie — Company, in French.

companhia — Company, in Portuguese.

compania — Company, in Spanish.

[Dale Seppa once opined that if anyone can't figure out the meanings of the above three entries, he should be collecting baseball cards.  Good point!  But, our primary reason for including them was to pin down the language.  This would be helpful in starting an identification process of obscure 19th Century local items whose place of issue is missing, changed in name, or no longer exists, and thus can't be found in most atlases.]

complete set — Fully realized, with no part lacking. The plurality of stamp collectors collect stamps in complete sets; ergo, it is generally difficult to sell broken sets. With coins and papermonies, completeness is somewhat less important, as individual pieces are easier to market, hence easier to obtain by collectors. See also: set.

Compound Interest Note(s) — An American Civil War issue which bore an interest of 6%, compounded twice a year.

comptoir de vente — Selling agency, in French.

condition — Among other things, a mode or state of being. In the case of collectibles, the primary criterion is quality, with the original condition as the ideal reference. See: grade, grading systems.

Confederate Bank Note(s) — The paper money issues of banks operating in South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee during the Civil War, roughly 1861-65. This class of notes includes the Confederate States as well as private bank issues.

Confederate Note(s) — The paper money issues of the Confederate States of America. By extension, the term includes other CSA issues, including CSA state and state bank notes, county notes, municipal scrip, and private issues by business organizations.

consejo de... — Council of..., in Spanish

consiglio — Council, in Italian.

consignment — The goods sent or delivered (by the consignor) to an agent (consignee) for sale. The general idea being that the consignee does not have to pay for the item(s) until has sold it. In a sense then, auctioneers and mail bid sale operators are also consignees.

contemporary counterfeit — A counterfeit item intended for spending. The term is very useful for distinguishing between historic collectibles intended to defraud the issuer at the time when the item was in circulation, and later made copies or collector counterfeits, qv, intended to defraud collectors.

Continental Currency — Papermonies issued between 1777-79 by the authority of tbe Colonial Congress. Notes issued up to 26 Feb 1777 were titled United Colonies. Notes issued between 20 May 1777 and 28 Sep 1778 were titled The United States. The United States of America appears on notes dated 14 Jan 1779.

copy — A reproduction of an original or another reproduction. See also counterfeit for a list of often confused terms.

cost — Cost is what the buyer pays. Price is what the seller asks.

cote — Coast, in French.

counter check — A check used by an individual in lieu of one of his own. In addition to filling in the amount, drawee, date and signature, the drawer also fills in the name of his bank. Before the days of printed magnetic ink marks (essential for high-speed processing machinery introduced in the early 1960s), counter checks were found on the counters of many business establishments.

counterfeit — Made in imitation of something else with a view to defraud or deceive. The term is especially associated with the unauthorized reproduction of money in circulation.

Note: Many related words, albeit with subtle differences in meaning, are often erroneously used interchangeably by collectors. The following table is a list of such words with abridged definitions. Their full definitions appear under regular, alphabetized, entries.


A completely worthless ficticious item created only for sale to collectors. Same as spurious, qv, but favored by philatelists.

collector counterfeit

Not intended for spending, but to fool collectors after the money has been demonetized.


Intended for spending. The reference is usually to historical items.


Reproduction of an original or another repro.


See main entry, above.


An exact copy; usually from original dies.


An imitation. Also, something altered to appear as something else.


A creation of something heretofore nonexistent.


A creation of something potentially real, hence acceptable, as a forged check.


An artificial likeness, not necessarily fraudulent.


A very close reproduction or a copy.


Printed from the original plate, sometimes with different paper and/or inks, after original printing is no longer functional. Generally, for collector purposes only.


A copy, close imitation, or duplication. Also, the process whereby plants and animals produce new individuals.


Fictitious, bastard, apocryphal, false, not genuine.


Counterfeit Detectors — Periodicals describing counterfeits and altered notes. Such reports were in general use during the State Bank Note era in USA.

Counterfeit Reports — Same as: Counterfeit Detectors, qv.

counterfoil — Many early notes were made in a format similar to today's checks which have stubs. Counterfoils, a fancy name for stubs, were useful for record keeping and authentication.

countermark — An archaic synonym for overprint, qv.

Cpl, cpl — Complete (set), a pricelist abbreviation. See also: set.

CPMS — Canadian Paper Money Society.

crease — A line or mark produced by folding any pliable material, such as paper, past the "point of no return". Thus, a crease is a severe fold whereby the fibers in the material have been stretched beyond the strain point, and can never be "undone".

crisp — A term for describing potatoe chips, bacon strips, and some cold cereals. Unscrupulous and imaginationally challenged pricelist dealers or cataloguers sometimes use this as an adjective, as in Crisp Unc (CU), to squeeze a few more bucks out of an otherwise Unc item. Uncirculated is the highest grade possible in this universe.

CSA — Confederate States of America.

CU — See: crisp.

currency — That which is in circulation as a medium of exchange, including coins, government notes, bank notes, etc. A subset of money. As distinguished from cheques, currencies generally appear only in a few specific denominations.

Currency Shield — A framed sheld such as the one displaying US fractional notes issued by the Treasury Department, in the 1870s, to banks for display and identification purposes.

currency stamps — Postage stamps used as money in emergencies.

current — Presently in general use. Opposite of obsolete, qv, which is not the same as demonetized, qv. Also, in electricity, the first time derivative of charge ( i = dq/dt ).

CU — See: crisp.

cut note(s) — Notes cut in various ways, usually into halves or quarters, often overprinted with new denominations, typically to alleviate coin shortages. See also: halved note.

Copyright MMII, by Tiitus Syngraphics. All rights reserved.     .....     Last Revision:  2009-05-08