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A used note is a banknote that has been in circulation (as opposed to a freshly printed, uncirculated banknote). Blackmailers and people demanding ransoms are often heard in movies to ask for a sum of money "in used notes." Used banknotes are preferred by criminals because they are more difficult to trace. Blocks of new banknotes will be in sequentially numbered order.
Used bank notes are less desired by collectors in comparison to uncirculated bank notes. However, many old, rare bank notes are valuable to collectors when uncirculated notes are not available at an affordable price.
Removal from circulation
In the United States, when the quality of a used note becomes sufficiently degraded, it is removed from circulation by the Federal Reserve. Each Federal Reserve Bank operates numerous count rooms, in which at least two employees process banknotes that were received on deposit from a bank. Used banknotes are fed into a large counting machine, which verifies the amount of the deposit and also identifies degraded banknotes. Any banknotes not meeting certain quality standards are immediately shredded by the machine. The shredded remains of used banknotes are sometimes offered for purchase as a novelty item.