As you may have heard, there’s a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card that’s expected to fetch more than $3 million at auction this spring.
Even those with no experience in collecting know that old, mint-condition (as the Mantle card supposedly is) baseball cards can sell for serious dough. But would you believe that you could have the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket stashed in your wallet right now? It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not!
There are $1 bills currently in circulation that may be worth hundreds, potentially even thousands of dollars, and it all comes down to the serial number printed on the bill—and you could have one already in your possession. So, OK, we’re not talking millions—but hundreds is better than nothing, right?
While most people are familiar with antique coins being worth more than their face value, the same goes for $1 bills with specific serial numbers.
Which $1 Bills Should You Be Looking For?
The website CoolSerialNumbers.com has created a list of the most sought-after $1 bills, and it’s a fairly long list.
With over 90 different combinations of serial numbers listed, what they’re really looking for is an unusual number pattern or specific sequencing of the numbers.
For example, here are few of the things CoolSerialNumbers.com is looking for on $1 bills:
Seven repeating numbers in a row
If you see something like 17777777, or 65555555, then you may have something of value!
Seven numbers of the same kind (in no particular order)
Numbers like 33363333 (see the seven 3’s there?) are considered special!
Numbers that super repeat
We all love order, right? So repeating numbers like 898989898 (or other variations of repeating values) stand out to collectors for sure!
What the heck is a “radar” number? It’s the numerical version of a palindrome—you know, words that read the same forwards and backwards: like the word radar!
The number 02233220 is a radar number because no matter which way you read it, it’s the same.
Super radar numbers
A super radar number takes the typical radar serial number and bumps it up a notch!
A super radar number is a radar number with all the same interior six digits. Confused? Numbers like 10000001 and 011111110 are examples of radar numbers and sought after serial numbers of $1 bills.
Think of ladder numbers like a sequential pattern. Every number is either one lower or one higher than the previous digit. So, something like 12345678 or 987654321 would be examples of ladder numbers.Getty Images | Dan Kitwood
Double quad numbers
Double Quad numbers are four repeating numbers followed by another set of four repeating numbers. For example, 44440000 or 11110000.
Any serial number that ends in a double zero is known as a trailing zero, such as 44444400.
There are actually some serial number requests that get pretty specific too, so if you’re interested in downloading the entire list, you can do so over at CoolSerialNumbers.com and print them all out on one nicely organized page.
But for an easy way to start—and to keep an eye out every time you’re handed a new $1 bill, just looking for unique patterns in the serial numbers that either repeat or have a rare sequencing is a good place to start.
If you want to see an example of some current $1 bills on the market, this list has some that are valued at up to $200! If you do want to sell your bills, you can find sellers on specialty sites like Cool Serial Numbers or broader retail marketplaces like eBay.
Don’t Forget The $100 Bills!
And if you really want to take this newfound hobby to the next level, you might want to check out $100 bills too.
When the $100 bills were redesigned in 2013, the Director of Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, told the Boston Globe that the very first bill with the serial number 00000001 could be worth up to $15,000!
So go ahead and start checking your wallet and pockets—and good luck!
Originally published on Feb. 7, 2017 and updated on March 9, 2018.