Michele Orzano

Paper, Ink and Steel

Michele Orzano

Michele Orzano, senior editor, paper money, is responsible for the vast majority of Coin World’s paper money coverage and edits Paper Money, a section of the monthly Coin World. She joined the Coin World staff in 1985, and in addition to paper money, has written extensively on legislative and legal topics, including Coin World's ambitious coverage of the 50 State quarters circulating commemorative coin program.


Visit one of our other blogs:

Paper money errors can make a collector's day

Errors are the headache of the manufacturing world. But paper money errors can sometimes make a collector’s day.

As with any production process, errors will occur and the processes used at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in paper money production are no exception.

Error dealers and collectors have always told me the types of errors that can be clearly spotted by anyone tend to draw a higher price than errors that are more subtle.

That’s what makes a Series 1935E $1 silver certificate with a portion of the third printing missing so interesting.

This eye-popping error note sold for only $470, during the Sept. 3 to 9 Heritage Auctions Currency Auction during the Long Beach Expo in Long Beach, Calif. (All prices cited include the buyer’s fee.)

In addition to the partial missing overprint error, the face of the note was scribbled on with a blue wax marker by a BEP inspector clearly indicating it should be pulled out for destruction. In addition, someone at the BEP attached to the face a vivid red- and white-striped BEP rejection sticker.

Those two actions individually but certainly together should have alerted someone down the line to pull this note.

But to some collector’s delight it didn’t happen and the note has a new owner. That note was graded Choice About New 58 Premium Paper Quality by PCGS Currency.

For those with deeper pockets, the auction also sold a double-denomination error – known as the King of Errors.

A Series 1974 Federal Reserve note with a $20 face and $10 back sold for $32,900. The note graded Choice About New 58 Premium Paper Quality by PCGS Currency.

Heritage sold another double-denomination Series 1974 $20/$10 FRN for $28,200 during its Currency Platinum Night Auction Aug. 6  during the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Rosemont, Ill . That note was graded Choice About New 58 PPQ by PCGS Currency.

Another collector was happy to be seeing double in winning the auction of a Series 1976 $2 Federal Reserve note with doubled overprint of the serial numbers and the Treasury and Federal Reserve seals. The note was graded Gem New 65 PPQ by PCGS Currency and realized  $15,862.50 .

BEP employees and inspection equipment have definitely improved through the years. That has reduced the number of errors coming into the market today. But it has not eliminated them. So keep your eyes open.

Check those paper notes in your pocket, you never know what you might find.

You are signed in as:null
Older Comments (11)
The population Census for double denomination King of Errors is quite high (IMO), and even the $2 series 1976 double 3rd printed errors number around 30 pieces..
My focus was on obtaining one example each of the overprint on back $1 errors from the only 3 Blocks now classified as Experimental since the series 1963 introduction to FRN's..
The first overprint error was printed on the right half of 19 sheets in Run #62, E-H Block series 1977A Natick Test Paper..
The 2nd & 3rd examples are from the failed 4 1/2 year Test Run on the Alexander Hamilton Web Press..

Of the 9,666,000 - 32 subject sheets serialed for the Web-Press-Notes, only one single 1/2 sheet from the series 1988A , A-F & G-P Blocks had received the overprint on back error..
Current Census shows 32 Natick errors and only 5 confirmed errors from each Web Sheet has surfaced..

It had taken me 14+ years to obtain one example of each Web error, and recently had all three holders by PMG in their 3-Note Holder..

While these are extremely rare, I do have a truly unique error note that was pictured in Coin World's Feb.2009 Edition..