Coin ValuesHobbies & Crafts

Here’s Why Replacement Star Notes Are Rare & Valuable (Find The Value Of Your Star Notes)

I remember the first time I heard of star notes. I had just gotten into the hobby of collecting coins as an adolescent.

At the time, I thought a star note had something to do with how popular they were.

I was sort of right: star notes are popular.

But they’re popular because of the stars on them — and I’m not talking about famous A-list Founding Parents like George Washington and Alexander Hamilton!

Star notes (also widely known as replacement notes) are so dubbed because they have a star symbol as part of their serial number.

So, why do these notes have stars in their serial numbers when most United States paper money doesn’t?

Why Are Star Notes Made? (Hint: Paper Money Errors!)

Many of us know about the many U.S. coin errors and varieties — some of which are quite rare and valuable.

Turns out it’s not just the U.S. Mint (which strikes America’s circulating coins) that makes mistakes.

Oh no, no, no…

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (we’ll call them BEP for short from here on out), the manufacturer of legal-tender United States banknotes and paper currency, also commits its share of flubs. Some of these paper money errors escape in the form of:

Whenever the BEP catches these paper currency errors after serial numbers have been printed, they discard the affected sheet and then reprint it.

The new replacement notes have their own unique serial numbers. To indicate the fact that they replaced a destroyed batch, replacement notes have a little star symbol as part of their serial-number arrangement:

  • On more modern paper currency, like Federal Reserve Notes, the star comes at the end of the overprinted serial number.
  • On old notes, such as Silver Certificates, like the one I photographed for this article, the stars come before the serial numbers.

Because printing errors are relatively scarce (and not every error is caught, destroyed, and replaced with new notes), a star note is scarce — at least scarce in the context of the hundreds of millions or even billions of notes printed each year.

Many modern star replacement notes saw production numbers into the low millions, so they aren’t all rare, per se — but they’re pretty much always significantly scarcer than the number of non-star notes for their issue.

Replacement star notes are therefore highly collectible, and many are quite valuable.

Do All Replacement Notes Have Stars?

No — not all replacement notes have stars in their serial numbers.

But don’t worry… this only affects notes printed before the summer of 1910 (when the BEP began using stars to indicate replacement notes).

There’s a complex system that can be used by banknote enthusiasts to identify which of these pre-summer-1910 paper notes are replacement notes.

How Many Star Notes Were Made?

The number of how many star replacement notes were printed varies by the series (year on note) and denomination.

I have a special reference book called Paper Money of the United States, by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg, that tells you how many star notes were made going back more than a century. If you buy just one paper money book, this is the one to buy because it will tell you so much of what you need to know about U.S. paper currency — including how many star notes were made.

But chances are you don’t have this book and need to know right now how many specimens of your star note were printed. I’ll also take a guess that you probably found your star note in circulation (e.g. you received your dollar bill in a cash transaction somewhere). So, it’s probably a more recent banknote — perhaps printed in the 1980s, 1990s, or later,

You’re in luck! I’ve found just the right resource for you — and it’s free!

It’s called Star Note Lookup, and it tells you how many star notes were printed going all the way back to Series 1981.

How Much Are Star Notes Worth?

There’s no set value for all star notes.

Star note values vary, based on these factors:

  • The series
  • The denomination
  • The condition of the individual specimen

But I can tell you flat out that almost all replacement notes (even the modern star notes!) are worth more than their face value. The “almost” part? Well, if your star note is heavily worn or damaged, it may not be worth more than its face value.

Whenever people ask me about old paper money values, they often want to know about star note value.

Some of the most valuable star replacement notes that people frequently ask me about are Series 1935 $1 and Series 1957 $1 notes These are usually worth around $3 to $8 in average worn condition and $10 or more in uncirculated grades.

I also get a lot of questions about 1976 $2 star note values. These are generally worth $4 to $5 or more in circulated condition and about $7 and up in uncirculated condition.

Are those the most valuable star notes?

No! They’re just the most valuable replacement notes that come my way in the form of “how much is my star note worth?” questions.

One of the most valuable star replacement notes out there is a Series 1928 $100 Gold Certificate graded Choice-Uncirculated 63 that sold for a whopping $223,250 in a 2017 auction.

By this point you’re probably asking, “How much are my star notes worth?”

The complete list of star note values is simply too long to publish and keep updated here. But, based on the feedback I’ve received from many people who find star replacement notes in circulation, I’ve provided values below for the types of notes people most frequently ask me about...

Updated List Of Star Note Values (Series 1981 to Present)

In this list of star note values, I’m including U.S. paper currency in denominations of $1, $5, $10, and $20 printed since Series 1981 — as well as basic values for $50 and $100 notes printed since then.

Your individual replacement star note value may be lower or higher. But this is a good rough estimate that will help you find out how much your star notes could, realistically, be worth.

Star Note Values Table

This table shows the estimated value range for circulated and uncirculated star notes by denomination and series. Please note that these are estimates and actual values may vary.

Star Note Values – $1 Denomination

1981$2.50 – $6.25$7.50+
1981-A$2.50 – $7.00$8.25+
1985$2.50 – $6.50$7.25+
1988$2.50 – $5.00$9.00+
1988-A$2.00 – $3.50$4.50+
1993$2.00 – $2.50$4.50+
1993 Philadelphia$35 – $60$120+
1995$2.00 – $2.50$3.00+
1999$2.00 – $2.50$3.00+
2001$2.00 – $2.50$3.00+
2003$2.00 – $2.50$3.00+
2003-A$2.00 – $2.50$3.00+
2006$1.50 – $2.00$3.00+
2009$1.50 – $2.00$3.00+
2013$1.50 – $2.00$3.00+
2013 Kansas City$7.00 – $20.00$50+
2017$1.05 – $1.75$2.50+
2017 Minneapolis$12 – $35$85+
2017-A$1.05 – $1.75$2.50+
2021$1.05 – $1.75$2.50+

Star Note Values – $5 Denomination

1981$20 – $40$55+
1981-A$45 – $85$120+
1985$20 – $40$55+
1988$20 – $40$55+
1988-A$6 – $18$20+
1993$5.50 – $15$20+
1999$5.50 – $15$20+
2001$5.50 – $15$20+
2003$5.50 – $15$20+
2003-A$5.50 – $15$20+
2006$5.50 – $10$12+
2013$5.50 – $10$11+
2017$5.50 – $7.00$8.50+
2021$8 – $12$14+

Star Note Values – $10 Denomination

1981$18 – $25$35+
1981-A$18 – $25$35+
1985$18 – $25$35+
1988-A$40 – $50$70+
1990$10.50 – $12.50$17+
1993$13 – $22$40+
1995$12.50 – $17$20+
1999$12.50 – $17$20+
2001$14 – $18$22+
2003$12.50 – $17$20+
2004-A$15 – $20$25+
2006$14 – $18$22+
2013$15 – $20$25+
2017$10.50 – $15$18+
2017-A$10.50 – $15$18+

Star Note Values – $20 Denomination

1981$22 – $35$45+
1981-A$22 – $35$45+
1985$22 – $35$45+
1988-A$27 – $40$50+
1990$25 – $35$40+
1993$27 – $40$50+
1995$27 – $40$50+
1996$25 – $33$35+
1999$25 – $33$42+
2001$22 – $30$37+
2004$22 – $28$32+
2004-A$22 – $28$32+
2006$22 – $28$32+
2009$22 – $28$32+
2013$22 – $28$32+
2017$21 – $24$28+
2017-A$21 – $24$28+

Star Note Values – $50 and $100 Denomination

$50 (Series 1981-Present)$55+$70+
$100 (Series 1981-Present)$110+$125+

NOTE: Circulated implies a grade of roughly Fine to Extremely Fine. Uncirculated means the bill has no signs of wear. Here’s a detailed explanation of paper currency grades.

If you need values for other star notes not listed here, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of Paper Money of the United States. Or, see if you can check it out for free from your local library.