The Reference Work on Banknotes: The Banknote Book

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by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Annika Backe

January 8, 2015 – There are people who live their passion. Apparently, Owen W. Linzmayer, writer of a new reference work on banknotes published by Spink in 2014, is one of these. He maintains the website, which – when compared to the impressive, three-volume catalog recently published by Spink – is a perfect testimony to the change the work of an author has undergone in the previous decades.

Owen W. Linzmayer, The Banknote Book. Spink / London 2014. 22 x 28 cm. 2355 pp., color illustrations throughout, 3 vols. Hardback, stitchbinding. ISBN 978-1-907427-40-4. £60 each or £150 (complete set).

Let’s start with the aim of this project. Owen W. Linzmayer plans to assemble all officially issued banknotes of every country in the world in a huge, exemplary catalog. His work is characterized by detailed information with an accurate description of the banknotes, first-class images, names of the printers, and additional notes on products designed specifically for collectors. In addition, the author provides numismatic comments on the different emissions. That makes this work considerably more detailed than any other transnational catalog.

At the end of each chapter the experts which assisted the author in writing the relevant chapter are mentioned by name. The catalog is completed by a lengthy list of bibliographic sources and the request to share one’s knowledge with the author.
This catalog is special because it is not finished yet. Rather, it is a published – albeit already highly impressive – intermediate result (as of August 2014) of the project that aims for completeness. The author is assembling the images and the material for the subsequent chapters and asks all users of this catalog both for their help and for scans.

On Linzmayer’s website,, devoted collectors of banknotes can download the latest chapters of his book by subscription for quite some time now. The subscriber is notified whenever a new chapter has been completed. There is no thing as a schedule for publishing particular chapters because the author does not know in advance how challenging it will be to obtain all images and information.

The Banknote Book is a typical catalog project that would have been impossible to undertake prior to the internet era. A central author standardizes information he has gathered from collectors, dealers, experts and, naturally, from books, and then compiles a catalog of a hitherto unparalleled level of quality. By the way, this catalog is of course likewise a price guide with thoroughly researched prices given for all listed banknotes in three conditions.

Thus, we advise every collector of banknotes to go for the double pack: buy the printed version of the three volumes for £60 only at Spink, and, in addition, subscribe for $99 per year in order to get all updates until Spink publishes the next printed edition. You can also buy and download individual chapters on the website which only pays off if you harbor very special interests. After all, the price of every chapter counting 10 or more pages is already $9.99.

The Banknote Book is a true asset not only to the library. The approach that has been taken to compile this catalog is likewise remarkable. It is a new way that can help undertake projects that are too complex for a single author.

You can buy The Banknote Book at Spink by clicking here.

This is the website of Owen W. Linzmayer.

On the website you also get some information about the author.