Paper, Ink and Steel
Michele Orzano served as editor of Paper Money Values magazine and the Paper Money section. She has written extensively on legislative and legal topics and has won major state and national awards in graphic design and feature and news writing. Michele was essential in Coin World's ambitious coverage of the 50 State quarters circulating commemorative coin program and since 1993 has written most of the paper money coverage. She graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor of arts in journalism.
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.