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Financial Q&A: What's an old $2 bill worth?

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Q: I have a 1928 D $2 bill with a red seal and serial number. It has some folds on the bill. I would like to know what the "worth" of this $2 bill is.

A.K., via e-mail

A: You're probably holding a Federal Reserve Note, or perhaps a US Note. Either way, Patrick Mason, manager of DSS Coin & Bullion, in Omaha, Neb., says that even after all these years it's basically worth two bucks.

"They were doing the same thing back then, too," Mr. Mason says of government printing presses that seemed to be on a 24-7 cycle. "They print, and they print, and they print."

Rarity determines worth, not just age. If you're interested in paper money that has some collector value, Mason would point you to bills that were much larger in size than those we currently tuck into our wallets. They were last printed in 1923.

He also likes bills that were printed privately by individual banks before the federal government muscled them out of the game.

Q: I am considering moving $143,000 (originally invested as $50,000) in a variable annuity from a large insurance company to another adviser. The annuity now has so many fees, and I feel that I can make more money with the new outfit. I realize that with the annuity, the $50,000 is guaranteed if the market should drop greatly. But I can't imagine how an insurance company would have the funds to guarantee if I lost $93,000. I don't have an accountant and was wondering how to determine my taxes based on this sum. Also, could I transfer some of the money into a mutual fund with the new firm and the rest into an IRA with them?

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