Paper Money

Collector gets error note in change ... from a dealer at FUN

This Series 2013 $20 Federal Reserve note with mismatched serial numbers was received in change from a dealer at the FUN convention in January.

Original images courtesy of Paper Money Guaranty.

The odds of ever finding a paper money error in circulation are long. The odds of getting one in change at a coin and paper money show, where one would think money is more closely looked at, are even longer.

Tammy Demars, of Texas, who helps manage the Coins & Currency Live Auctions Group on Facebook, was at the Florida United Numismatists show in Orlando in January when she looked at a $20 Federal Reserve note she had just gotten in change. She immediately noticed that the serial numbers on the Series 2013 $20 note from the Boston district were mismatched — MA54550151B on the top left and MA54545151B on the bottom right. Paper Money Guaranty graded it Very Fine 30. 

As to how such an error occurs, the service explained in its announcement of having graded the note, “The serial numbers printed on a note are imparted by a pair of numbering wheels. When the serial numbers don’t match, it indicates something went wrong — such as one of the numbering wheels being temporarily stuck.”

As to the error’s value, a Friedberg 2097-A note similar to this one, graded Extremely Fine 40 Premium Paper Quality by PCGS Currency and with similar serial numbers (MA54552690B and MA54547690B) was sold for $3,760 by Stack’s Bowers Galleries at the 2017 American Numismatic Association auction in Denver. The description for that lot said, “It is our understanding that the BEP has technology in place now that makes mismatches easy to catch before release. That is why they are so rare today.”

Similar Series 2013 $20 errors from the Richmond district have recently been selling for much less in better condition. An example graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated Exceptional Paper Quality sold for $1,140 at Heritage Auctions’ sale at the January 2020 FUN Show. 

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