Controversies with Conservation

Conservation of banknotes refers to any form of restoration, pressing, alteration, or modification that is performed for the purpose of improving the overall appearance of a banknote or enhancing the integrity of the paper. Conservation of banknotes is frequently frowned upon and is a controversial subject. This tendency is understandable in many cases — some banknotes are restored for the sole purpose of deceiving others, while others are restored unprofessionally, resulting in further damage to rare pieces. I am of the view that these decisions should be handled case-by-case.

For example, I have purchased very rare pieces which were already repaired, albeit very crudely. In such cases, I believe that there is no reason I shouldn’t undo the crudely done repair and redo it with the help of a professional conservator. Other pieces that found their way to my collection are damaged examples of moderately rare banknotes. A piece in VG could cost a small fraction of what a VF would cost, sometimes making the purchase of a VF prohibitively expensive. In such cases, I see no harm in restoring some of the attractiveness of an undamaged note.

One thing remains unchanged in spite of all of the above: any restoration or alteration performed on a banknote must always be disclosed without any exceptions. Any deviations from that are considered to be unethical.

Below is an example of a Palestine 1 Pound dated 1927, the most difficult of all 1 Pound notes. An original VF example could cost over $4.000. This one was purchased at a fraction of this price, and with minimal restoration work it now looks like a F, possibly a low-end VF. My intent was not to make it look “new” but rather make it “easy on the eyes”.

3 comments on “Controversies with Conservation

  1. How much would a restoration work like that cost?

  2. arabiancoins says:

    It really varies, I would say it starts at $200 for something basic. Advanced, high end work can get into the 4-figure range quickly.

  3. Yehezkel Shami says:

    As an advance and old time collector of the field, I find the site highly relevant and informative, and I intend to visit it frequently and to contribute it. As it is my first communication, I would like to to focus on the above subject of Conservation and I am in absolute agreement with your stand that advocate “no harm in restoring some of the attractiveness of an undamaged note”. The above example dealing with the conservation of Palestine one Pound 1927 is a perfect example with superb aesthetics results, while I do posses few valuable notes that could benefit greatly from going through the same process, I have a bigger challenge and I would like to get your opinion. One note (Pakistan P-2 1948 2 Rupees is badly damaged, but the the crucial sections are (Water mark and the over print as well as the serial number) are undamaged, the question is do you have experience in replacing damaged areas using the appropriate sections cutout from the more common note (India 1948 2 Rupees). in the second case is very similar to what you alluded “while others are restored unprofessionally, resulting in further damage to rare pieces” the note in question is Iraq P-35
    5 Dinars with the same basic problems as the note above, plus it was primitively restored (not by me) using, most likely the more common IRAQ 5 Dinars-National Bank Iraq P-40. In this case one would have to remove the old repairs as they don’t fit to say the least and redo it again with “old fresh” note.

    My question are as follows;

    1. do you have experience in such restorations and if not, can you refer me to other expert that might be able to execute such restoration

    2. Assuming that you are aware with the of the rarity of the two above notes and their value, would it be sensible financially – value wise to sacrifice the more common notes in order to get a more “eye pleasing”, effect.

    If you are interested in further exploring these two restoration cases, I can send you scans of the the two pairs of the notes in question for further evaluation.


    Dr. Hezi Shami Ph.D..

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