Original Bank Rolls “OBW” Buying Guide

Thanks to member Ray Parkhurst for his informative insights on original bank wrapped rolls.

I’ve had a couple requests for my considerations when buying OBW rolls. I’ve written a bunch of them down in various posts, and eventually will pull them all together, but here are a few of them I pulled together today. Comments welcome.OBW Cent Roll buying guide

1) Don’t listen to anything the dealer says about the rolls. Make your judgement based on the rolls themselves.
2) Bank names on the rolls command a premium. No bank name, no premium over tubed roll price. Some banks are more valuable than others, for instance regional banks. Some banks reduce value, for instance Cleveland, because so many early 60’s OBW were opened and then re-wrapped with 50’s or even 40’s or 30’s coins.
3) Multiples of a given roll increases value, but usually result in lower asking price. This is a great combo for the buyer.
4) Check the end coins. One or both should have at least some toning, dust, scratches, fingerprints, etc. Full-brilliant is a red flag unless you can personally verify they were stored in near-perfect conditions.
5) Check the condition of the wrapper. Ends should not have any fuzziness, except maybe on high points where they were scuffed. Fuzziness usually means a re-wrap. Conversely, perfect and tight crimps usually mean a re-wrap as well. In general you are looking for fresh-looking but slightly messy crimps. Make sure there are no water stains or other nasty stains on the wrapper.
6) Check the characteristics of the printing on the wrapper, font, etc to be sure the wrapper is of the correct vintage. If you have time and find an unusual bank, make sure it was in business when the coins were minted. Google is your friend.

If all the above checks out, then you may have real OBW rolls in your hands.

For pricing, I usually allow 1.5x-2x premium vs CDN bid on rolls that check out per the above. Some dates command even more premium. Note there are certain dates that you simply won’t find in OBW and should NOT pay a premium for. A few of these are:

Anything pre-1934 (99.9% probable they won’t pass the above 6 tests anyway)
1943-D (the search for RPM#1 decimated OBW supply)
1944-D (the search for the two OMM’s decimated OBW supply)
1946-S (there still may be some around but be very careful, most have been opened for the OMM)
1955-P (no, no, no, no, no)
1956-D (still available but again be very careful, most have been opened for RPM#8)

That’s one thing you can use to determine if a roll is original once you’ve opened it. If it was truly machine-wrapped, there should be approximately 50/50 heads and tails in the roll. I’ve had a few rolls that had as imbalanced as 60/40 (20/30) that I knew were original, but I’d say beyond this and it’s a re-wrap.Now, here’s another thing to look for once you’ve opened the roll. The coins should be randomly rotated. Even if you have 50/50 heads/tails, if the coins are all lined up in rotation, it’s a rewrap.

Finally, I’ve never seen more than 3 coins in a row of heads/tails in an original roll. I suppose it could happen, so if you get a roll that has 4 or 5 heads in a row it might be original, but odds are against it. If the 4 or 5 coins are all rotated similar direction, you have a rewrap.

These are things you can use to determine after the fact if a roll is original. They are NOT sufficient, because unscrupulous folks also know these things and might rewrap with the coins all jumbled and mixed to avoid suspicion. But if they are not jumbled and mixed, you know what you have…

Originally Posted by WaterSport View Post
One other tid bit I use – IF the roll has a bank name, do an internet search. Some times you can 1) verify its a real bank that existed at one time, See what if any merger occurred and thus would “date” your rolls . In other words, if the bank went out of business in 1964 and your holding 1970 rolls, you have to wonder.WS

Note that the bank name has to be exact as well. If you are holding a roll of 1943-S OBW cents, which seem to be more common today than they were a few years ago (bad sign), and it says “Mellon National Bank of New York City” but your search shows that the only similarly-named bank which was in business in 1943 was named “Mellon National Bank of New York” it is not a match. It has to be PERFECT because banks NEVER make a mistake when it comes to their name.