THE DALLAS-BASED EXPERT AND LONGTIME COLLECTOR HAS HIS MIND ON HIS MONEY AND HIS MONEY ON HIS MIND
Interview by Rhonda Reinhart • Portraits by Josh David Jordan
At just 26 years old, Raiden Honaker has already been a collector for nearly two decades. “I started collecting at the age of 8 when my grandfather gave me a bag of world and ancient coins to spark my interest in numismatics,” he says. “His plan worked, and I was instantly hooked.” Over the years, as Honaker became more interested in American history, he realized his true passion was collecting United States paper money. In 2021, that hobby became a career when Honaker took on the role of Consignment Director in Heritage Auctions’ U.S. Currency department, a division that recorded more than $37.6 million in total sales last year. Now he spends his days immersed in an elite numismatic world he couldn’t even have dreamed of as a coin-collecting second-grader in his hometown of Vidalia, Georgia.
Below, Honaker shares upcoming auction highlights, the consignment he’ll never forget and the lessons he learned from being a teenage coins and currency dealer.
What do you do at Heritage?
I like to refer to myself as a Swiss Army knife in our department because I do a little bit of everything. I work on bringing in consignments from our existing client base as well as reaching out to new clients to assist in placing their collections in our numerous auction venues. I also handle all of the U.S. Currency material that comes in on consignment, so I manage which notes need to be sent to third-party grading, deciding auction placement, lotting of the notes and observing every note to maximize the value when it hits the auction block. The last piece of the trifecta is managing our HACurrency social media pages. I post content on our social media daily and create a wide variety of posts, reels and videos that interact directly with our target market and numismatic communities, which is a lot of fun.
What drew you to the auction world?
I was introduced to Heritage Auctions when I was a preteen and was immediately hooked on the incredible material that would come to auction and the record-breaking prices that would come with them. As a collector, I would regularly enjoy browsing the numismatic departments to see what rarities were about to hit the market, particularly U.S. Currency. Fast forward to when I was just a few months away from graduating with my MBA. I was set on finding a career that I was truly passionate about, and around that time several paper money dealer friends of mine directed me toward the opportunity with HA’s U.S. Currency department. Long story short, I was awarded with the position. So I graduated with my MBA in December 2020 and moved to Dallas in January 2021 – no time was wasted!
What is the focus of your personal collecting?
My personal collection specializes in the National Bank Notes issued in my home state of Georgia. One hundred sixty-five banks across the state issued these highly collectible notes, and my focus is acquiring as many of those charters as possible while also obtaining different types, denominations and varieties to make for the most complete collection possible on a rather tough state to collect.
You were still a teenager when you became a part-time dealer of coins and paper money. What was the biggest lesson you learned from that experience?
Without a doubt, the biggest lesson I learned was to listen to what advice the elders in the numismatic world had to offer. Those individuals have decades of experience and are a true wealth of knowledge, and they value your interest in seeking their wisdom. I learned so many valuable lessons over the years just by listening to what they had to say and strongly encourage others to do so.
Tell us about some of the most memorable consignments you’ve handled while at Heritage.
Probably the most exciting consignment that has come through our department since I started was the amazing collection of Dr. Paul Balter, which went to auction at the beginning of this year. Some of the most incredible National Bank Notes and type notes that I have handled came from that collection, and every single note in his collection was raw. Not a one was encapsulated – it was that fresh and original. Every note in that impressive collection was exciting. Some of them you only see once every two or three decades. I’ll never forget it.
What trends are you seeing in the U.S. Currency market?
High-grade and problem-free type notes are always on the rise, some of which are finally starting to break records that were set over a decade ago when the market was at its all-time high. Right now, the hottest and most sought-after notes are high denominations, so $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 notes. These have absolutely skyrocketed in price since COVID and are not showing any signs of slowing down. Records are being shattered every time the hammer falls for these in our Signature® Auctions.
Heritage’s first Currency Signature® Auction of 2024 is coming up January 10-12. What are some of the lots you’re most excited about?
I am excited about the entire sale, as our upcoming FUN Currency Signature® Auction is jam-packed with rarities and spectacular notes. But there are a few that stand out among the others. First would have to be the Fr. 1166b-I 1863 $20 Gold Certificate, which is one of just six known examples. This is a note that rarely appears at auction and that very few get to even see in person in their lifetime. Headlining the incredible Highland Park Collection is the jaw-dropping Fr. 2407 1928 $500 Gold Certificate graded 66 EPQ by PMG, which is the single finest known example. When the dust settles on that note, records are likely to be broken.
Is there one part of your job you love the most? If so, why do you love it?
That’s an easy question. Connecting with collectors from all across the country and helping them in their collecting endeavors – whether it be consigning, purchasing notes at auction or assisting them in hunting down notes for their collection – always brings a smile to my face. I will often get as excited as they do when they finally acquire that big note that they’ve wanted for years, because I know exactly how that feels. That excitement of accomplishing a long-awaited goal is a special feeling. I love it because I am still a very avid collector, and it is easy to connect with our clients because we speak the same collecting language.
You also received your auctioneer license this year. What has that experience been like?
Becoming an auctioneer is something that I have always dreamed of doing, so by earning my auctioneer license, I now have two roles at HA that I am truly passionate about. I am extremely blessed to do what I love and to have a hobby turned career. The experience thus far has been very enjoyable, and I have certainly learned a great deal about the many other categories and departments here at HA. I am always fascinated at what the other departments have to offer, and it is exciting to be a part of that process when I am on the podium calling those lots. I look forward to the many, many auctioneering opportunities that are to come.
Raiden Honaker can be reached at 214.409.1922 or email@example.com.
RHONDA REINHART is editor of Intelligent Collector.