Overprinting error on $1 note is obvious, but something else makes this note special

Note was printed on special test paper from a different supplier to the BEP
By , Coin World
Published : 04/24/17
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Most U.S. paper money printed since the 1870s has been produced on paper supplied by a single firm. Notes printed on paper from a different supplier are scarce, and when one of them is an error note as well, the appeal is even stronger.

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A Series 1977A $1 Federal Reserve note for the Richmond bank was printed on test paper from Natick Labs, a firm in Natick, Mass., rather than on the standard paper supplied by Crane & Co., the Dalton, Mass., firm that has supplied currency paper to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing since the administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes. The test notes were produced within a specific serial number range, thus enabling collectors to identify them.

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The note, in one of Heritage’s auctions at the Central States Numismatic convention, is not only printed on the Natick Labs paper, but is also an error. The overprinting of the seals and serial numbers was done on the back of the note instead of the face.

The Process

For most of the BEP’s history, notes have been printed on sheets of paper in a three-step process: One side would be printed (typically the back), then allowed to dry or cure; then the face would be printed, and again permitted to dry or cure; finally, the face would be overprinted, usually with the necessary seals and serial numbers, and sometimes other identifying elements that might set it apart from other notes of the same basic design type.

Various overprinting error types could occur depending on how a stack of otherwise completed sheets of notes was inserted into the overprinting press. If the sheets were inserted face side up but inverted from their normal orientation, the overprinted elements would be applied upside down. If the sheets were inserted so that the back faced the overprinting equipment, then the overprinting would end up on the wrong side of the note. That is what happened with this note and the other notes from the same 32-subject sheet.

The Test Range

The note in this auction bears serial number E 79299663 H. That places it in the range of notes identified as printed on the Natick paper.

As Heritage explains, “These Natick test paper notes can be identified by their serial number range of E76000001H through E80640000H. However, research by small size specialist Robert Azpiazu and others indicate that large gaps exist in the serial numbering sequence. This would suggest that the actual number of notes printed is much less than the documented serial number range.”

The firm adds, “A great piece that is not only a rare experimental note, but an error on top of that. We would not be surprised if our estimate proves to be far too conservative,” which the firm has set at $800 to $1,100.

The note is graded Choice Uncirculated 63 Exceptional Paper Quality by Paper Money Guaranty.

A second note from the same production but a different sheet, bearing serial number E 79299664 H, is also offered in the auction.

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Older Comments (4)
I have been conducting a in-depth Census on both Natick & Web-Press Overprint Errors, and just revised it as my Census research shows 41 Confirmed Serial Number Errors from a span of 19 Half Sheets (Run #62 - E-H Block, Sheets #19659 to #19677...
When I break it down farther, my Census shows all 19 consecutive Overprint on back serial number errors released in circulation via 100 Note Bank Packs must have contained all 19 errors in each of the Original New Bank Packs...
After letting my SPMC membership expire some 20 years ago, I just reactivated my SPMC membership so I can post my Census Results online for both the Web-Press & Natick Confirmed errors...
I will also include the only three COPE Plate Positions from the Natick Error Notes Plate Position A3 to H4 that has yet to confirm any error, and Notes from those 3 Bank Packs could reside in someone's collection or may have been returned to the Treasury Department...
If also open to discussing this with others interested in obtaining a accurate Census... I did post my Census Results last year on CFF, and may update there again after I'm done posting on SPMC...
The ONLY reason for the large gap in Serial Numbers is the skip-numbering process the BEP used on this 40k Sheet Run, meaning that each COPE Plate Position has a serial number 40,000 higher than the previous one...
I hope to publish my Census research along with all 304 Serial Numbers having the Overprint on Back Error...
All the Errors are on the Right Half of the Sheet #'s 19659 to 19677 of the 40,000 Sheet Run, Run#62 (quadrants 3&4), starting with E78739659H to E78739677H (19 errors) for assigned Plate Position A3, and ending with Plate Position H4 (E79339659H to E79939677H)...
vernonpeterson -

Thanks for sharing your great stats & info !
What do you estimate the value of this error test paper note to be? The auction estimate of $800-$1100 seems low.

William T. Gibbs -

Thanks for a fascinating article about this interesting test paper error note. Can't wait to see what it brings at auction!
Mr. Gibbs,
As mentioned in my comments below, I just reactivated my SPMC membership after letting it expire about 20 years ago when I sold my Currency Collection so I could focus on Numismatic Errors... I was also a CoinWorld subscriber going back to when the weekly issues looked like a local News Paper... CoinWorld also published some of my Errors going back to the 1990's, and now I just have the online subscription...

I just received information from SPMC on how to post my 1st Blog, and currently drafting the article for Natick Overprint Errors... Since I never posted a Blog, and quite frankly not sure what to expect, I'll be placing everything in my Gmail email Draft folder, then copy and paste it to the Blog Page..

Should you like a copy to review, and possibly be the first to publish in Print, I will be more than happy to email you a copy...

After this, I will be posting my Census Results on Overprint Errors on Web-Press Notes (both Inverted Overprint & Overprint on Back Errors) that I've been working on since around 2005... I know Michelle Orzano from my CoinWorld submissions and was hoping to confirm my suspicions on the census results with her prior to posting online... Since her retirement, all I can do is mention her in the post and see what happens...

As for what the Natick Error Notes will bring at auction, I'm not sure, but do know that when my Census is posted, the price will drop...
This will include the 3 I purchased that had been Certified by both PCGS & PMG prior to them placing "Natick Test Paper" on the Holder... And since I have all the serial numbers available from the 19 Sheets, I knew enough to jump at purchasing them when listed on eBay... Mine are a 65 & two 66's, with a 66 in a 3-Note PMG Holder including a 64 A-F Web & 66 G-P Web...

Unless a Overprint Error is located on a Gilbert Test Paper Note used on Series 1963 C-A Block, I have the only 3 Overprint Errors that can be classified as Experimental Notes (Test Paper & Web-Press) in a single Holder..

Kindly advise if you would like a copy of the Natick Census..