Paper Money

Military payment certificates collection astounds

The most important and valuable collection of military payment certificates ever offered will set records and benchmarks for years to come when it is auctioned by Stack’s Bowers Galleries at the American Numismatic Association convention in Anaheim, Calif., this month.

The Paymaster Collection of MPCs, as it has been dubbed, is being called a groundbreaking find. It is also an unusual one. Whereas most high-end collections are assembled over decades with the contents mostly publicly known, the Paymaster Collection was assembled by a government employee who received the notes directly from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and from private printers. No one knew it even existed until May when it was consigned to Stack’s Bowers Galleries by a descendant. It is considered the only complete set of MPCs known.

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MPCs have an unusual monetary distinction in that while issued by the United States they could not be spent there — their sole purpose was for use by American military personnel in designated foreign countries. They are the successors of the Allied military currency of World War II. Fifteen series of military payment certificates were printed and 13 issued between 1946 and 1973. Series 691 and 701 were not officially issued. They are all represented here, along with specimens, replacements, and partial printings.

Among the highlights is a complete specimen book of Series 701 including fractional denominations. The collection also offers other bound books. One is labeled Progressive Impressions, Composite Impressions, and Specimens for Series 701 and shows four-subject sheets of each denomination for each stage of the printing process. Other books titled Composite Impressions cover Series 461 to 481. 

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