Paper Money

New configuration of notes printed on 50-subject sheets

A change in the size of the paper used to print Series 2013 $1 Federal Reserve notes will provide collectors something new to look for in circulation.

The first U.S. paper money printed on 50-subject sheets was shipped by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to the Federal Reserve in April 2014.

A minor technical change to the alpha-numeric note-position identifier on the face of the new $1 notes will help distinguish them from older notes printed on 32-subject sheets. The note-position identifier is found in the upper left-hand corner on the face of $1 Federal Reserve notes.

The note-position identifier has long enabled collectors to plot any given note’s original position on the 32-subject sheet from which it was cut. The identifier will continue to serve that same function for notes from 50-subject sheets, although collectors will now have to adjust to a new configuration of notes on the larger sheets.

Instead of a configuration of four columns and eight rows as on the 32-subject sheets (requiring the use of alpha-numeric combinations from A1 to H4), the 50-subject sheets feature five columns and 10 rows for (A1 to J5). (See the accompanying images of the different sheet configurations.)

While this knowledge may be seen as arcane by noncollectors, collectors can, for example, use their understanding of sheet configurations to help identify the placement of a particular error note on the original sheet, thus helping to identify the potential rarity of the error.

A 32-subject sheet of currency paper is divided into four quadrants of eight notes each. The upper left quadrant is assigned the number 1; the lower left, the number 2; the upper right, 3; and lower right, 4.

Each quadrant is further divided into two vertical rows of four notes each. The top left note in the quadrant is designated by the letter A; the letters then go down through the quadrant from B to C to D, then jump to the top note in the second vertical row, with letters from top to bottom being E, F, G and H.

This system is repeated for each quadrant, thus giving each note a distinctive letter and number code (i.e., A2 or F3). The combination of letter and number identifies the exact position of the note on the original sheet.

By adding an additional column and two more rows on the 50-subject sheets, the configuration is divided this way: the A1 position is in the first row, upper left corner. The first note at the top of the next column is position A2, then A3 on the next column and so on to the top note on the last column, A5.

The second row, first column position is B1, proceeding across to B5, and so on with subsequent columns and rows. 

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