Error Note Chronicles: Errors in the Design of Notes

Posted on 10/17/2023

These incredible errors were inevitable, even before the printing process began.

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 Errors in the Design of Notes.

Before banknotes are printed, they typically go through rigorous checks during the design process to ensure the notes are free from errors, but sometimes mistakes are missed. One glaring error that escaped scrutiny can be found on the front of this China, Hunan Government Bank 1906 5 Taels. The name of the denomination in English is misspelled TEALS on the front of the note. This particular example realized $2,640 at a July 2020 Heritage Auctions sale.

Click images to enlarge.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the issuance of currency by Singapore's Board of Commissioners of Currency, a special book was issued with the title "Prudence at the Helm." Included with the book was a 2 Dollar note with a commemorative overprint to the right of the sun on the front of the note. In the overprint, the name of its issuing authority is misspelled with an omitted 'I': "BOARD OF COMMISSONERS OF CURRENCY." Only a few thousand of these notes were printed. The one seen here (which earned the median grade of PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ for these notes in the PMG Population Report) realized $960 through a Heritage Auctions sale in September 2023.

Click images to enlarge.

Another error note with a missing 'I' is the Saint Helena / British Administration ND (1976) 5 Pounds. The motto on the back should read "AUSPICIO REGIS ET SENATUS ANGLIAE," but the final 'I' was initially omitted. The error, which is identified by catalog number 7a, was corrected in 7b. The note shown here was offered with a Jersey note and realized $216 as part of a July 2022 Heritage Auctions sale.

Click images to enlarge.

A popular error on paper money issued by the United States is the PCBLIC Error, which involves 1907 $5 Legal Tender notes. The error is located on the back of the note in the sixth line of the obligation clause, which reads: "THIS NOTE IS A LEGAL TENDER AT ITS FACE VALUE FOR ALL DEBTS PCBLIC AND PRIVATE..." You can learn more about this popular error here.

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 with 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

Other Error Note Chronicles columns:

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