Leigh Follestad with some of the uncut banknotes that comprise his world-record collection.

Penticton man counting on new Guinness record

Local business owner hoping to reset his own world record for largest collection of uncut banknotes

Under the scrutiny of a banker and a security professional, a Penticton man last week set out to smash his own Guinness world record for the largest collection of uncut banknotes.

Leigh Follestad is preparing to submit to Guinness the documentation necessary to confirm the new record of 212 sheets in 134 different denominations from 51 unique countries, numbers about double the current benchmarks.

He began accumulating coins as a boy, but it was an uncut sheet of US $2 bills he found in Hawaii that became the foundation for his collection.

“This is basically my baby since I was 10,” said Follestad, who owns the downtown Smart Shopper store.

The colourful collection, which includes rejects, proofs and special collectors’ editions, spans the globe, from Ecuadorian sucres to New Zealand dollars and Chinese yuan.

“Canadian money is just as good as the rest of them,” he added.

At first, Follestad found new additions through central banks, magazines and dealers, “then the Internet came along with eBay and that kind of thing and I started putting buying requests out.”

The collection, stored in a secret location, is now valued at tens of thousands of dollars.

He set the previous record in 2005 after lobbying Guinness officials to create the category. To establish the new record, he had to find two reputable community members to count the sheets of money and validate the submission.

Guinness “won’t send someone for this… but they’ll verify everything and contact these people and make sure that everything is legit,” said Follestad.

Kyle Gilbert, a CIBC business financial advisor who was one of the official counters, said the task was just a little bit outside his usual job description.

“It’s a first for me. I’ll do a lot of different things for clients, but that was definitely the first on the Guinness verification program,” said the 33-year veteran of the banking industry.

“This was quite different. Most entertaining, actually.”

Follestad expects to send off his application this week and hopes to find out by the end of the year if Guinness will accept the new record.