Paper Money

Portrait differences found on recent $2 notes

A collector’s dream is to find something no one else has noticed, as may be the case with a new and significant variety of the current $2 Federal Reserve note that seems to have surfaced to little notice, though no official explanation is forthcoming

It involves a distinct difference within notes of the 2013 series, in which the portrait of Jefferson appears to have been redone, including the hair, neck and eyes, as well as other details. The features in the new variety appear much darker. The hair in particular, is reproduced in the newer version and, when not under magnification, almost seems to be a different color, based on an image provided by the collector who found the distinctive note.

The discovery was brought to Coin World’s attention by Eduardo A. Náter, a 34 year-old collector in Puerto Rico, who has been collecting for over 20 years and recently got involved with modern $1 and $2 bill complex blocks (i.e. different printings within a single block), with a special interest in the latter denomination.

He explained, “While scanning the Series 2013 in high resolution to add to my (Flickr) page, I noticed something really particular. I scanned an FA COPE printing and then an FA LEPE printing and saw that the hair on Jefferson was darker. I immediately made an image to compare both blocks and noticed the evident differences in the hair, eyes and neck, among other differences in Jefferson’s design.”

The whiter (earlier) design exists within Series 2013, Series 2009 and older series. In the 2013 series, the lighter version is seen in blocks FA (COPE printing), F* and KA. The other 2013 blocks show the new, darker printing. The Series 2013 BA blocks have the newer design whether printed by COPE or LEPE. Based on current observations, notes from the Series 2017A production are only the darker, new version.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has been asked whether the difference has anything to do with COPE or LEPE, or the reformulated ink that it had been using first at the Fort Worth, Texas, plant and then at the Washington facility, or some other possibility. The BEP has not responded to a request for comment.

COPE (short for Currency Overprinting and Processing Equipment) and the next generation LEPE (Large Examining and Printing Equipment) are printing and examining equipment used by the BEP. The BEP began using COPE in the 1970s. It explains on its website that this press adds the two serial numbers, the black Federal Reserve seal, the green Treasury seal, and the Federal Reserve identification numbers. Sheets next go through the COPE Vision Inspection System, which compares the scan of the sheets against a database containing captured images and numeric qualities and quickly decides whether or not to accept or reject each sheet. If a sheet is defective, it is replaced with a star sheet.

There are only three lines of LEPE presses, two in Fort Worth and one in Washington. All were introduced from 2012 to 2014. These 144-foot-long presses are the first ones able to print 50-subject sheets, although they also print 32-subject sheets, as do earlier presses. The LEPE presses perform full sheet examination, letterpress printing functions, product verification, cutting, and packaging of currency. They also do multiple inspections and verifications using a total of 20 cameras as they inspect, print, verify and package currency, all at the rate of approximately 9,000 sheets per hour.

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