What is a pick number and why is it needed? This is the second most asked question I receive, and while it seems a strange to say that a banknote is pick 111 there is a good reason for this system. This pick system allows banknote collectors and dealers from all over the world to easily recognize exactly which note is being discussed, sold or traded. It is a universal system to understand a certain note that can cross any boarder or language barrier. It has a very useful place in collecting and not just us being old, set in our ways and “picky”.
The pick # is named for the pioneer in cataloging banknotes Albert Pick and his name is used to depict each specific banknotes. Albert Pick born in 1922 is a retired German numismatist and an internationally acknowledged authority on the subject of paper money. He started collecting banknotes in 1930 and his own collection exceeded 180,000 notes before giving it to the Bavarian Mortgages and Exchange Bank.
As you start collecting you will find this pick system as an invaluable way to not only catalog your banknotes, but to help you purchase/trade notes. Actually the pick system goes a bit deeper than the use of the # to determine which note is which – there is also a letter code that depicts the country also. So RO111 is the code for the Romanian Polymer 2000 lei banknote.
IN would depict India etc. However, as most collectors and dealers specifically talk about the Country that they are interested in buying the note from the letter system is not widely used. For example if I wanted to buy the above note, I would drop the letters and just tell the supplier that I want Romania pick 111.
There are a few variations to pick numbers and I will briefly outline some alternatives – you may see a pick # that says pick 111s – the s in this instance denotes that this is the specimen note from this issue (I will explain specimen notes later) In addition you may see pick # 111a or 111b the a & b depicts certain variations to the original issued note. Some changes can be very minor, but enough to warrant an additional letter, but not enough to warrant a new catalog #. As a rule a lot of letters after the # is for signature changes on the note, or maybe new date/year issues.
As a beginner this may not be too important, but just so you will understand when you see a pick # that has letters before or after. Pick numbers may seem a little complicated at first, but as your collection grows you will begin to appreciate the value of Albert Pick’s contribution to banknote collecting.