Error Note Chronicles: Cutting Error

Posted on 6/21/2022

This error occurs during the last step in the creation of a banknote.

Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG®) is the world’s leading authority on banknote errors, a popular segment of numismatics. In Error Note Chronicles, we take an in-depth look at different errors. This month’s topic is the Cutting Error.

This error happens when the sheets fail to align properly during the last stage of creating a banknote: the cutting process. Both sides of the note will be affected by this error. This 1996 $100 Federal Reserve Note shows a Cutting Error affecting the vertical alignment of the note. (This note is for sale in a June 2022 Heritage Auctions sale.)

1996 $100 Federal Reserve Note (San Francisco) graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ with Cutting Error.
Click images to enlarge.

Banknotes are printed in sheets, with margins separating the individual notes. When the cutting process is done well, the margins appear evenly spaced around the edge of the notes, and this is an important factor in the grade of a banknote. When the cutting is done exceptionally poorly, a Cutting Error can occur.

Typically, in order to qualify for a Cutting Error, a small portion of the adjacent note must be visible or (when the error occurs at the edge of the sheet) a small portion of the note's design must be cut off. This 2017A $5 Federal Reserve Note has a Cutting Error that affects its horizontal alignment. It realized $228 in a November 2021 Heritage sale.

2017A $5 Federal Reserve Note (Dallas) graded PMG 63 Choice Uncirculated EPQ with Cutting Error.
Click images to enlarge.

World notes can have Cutting Errors as well. This China, People's Republic 1953 5 Fen realized $240 when it was offered by Heritage Auctions in April 2022.

China, People's Republic 1953 5 Fen graded PMG Choice Uncirculated with Cutting Error.
Click images to enlarge.

PMG, an independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group® (CCG®), has certified many exciting error notes, including the famous “Del Monte” error note that realized $396,000 in a January 2021 sale.

Collectors and dealers who have error notes can submit them to PMG for certification under an applicable grading tier with “error” or the specific error noted under the Variety/Pedigree column on the submission form. There is no additional fee for this service.

For more information about submitting to PMG, visit

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