Mule Notes Offer Opportunity

A detail of the Plate Numbers on a small-size mule note.

Mules have always been interesting to me and over the years I have noticed that even some of the rarest mules can be "cherry picked," or bought from dealers who have not attributed them as mules. The best mule I know of that was purchased in this way was the unique 1928-E $5.00 Legal Tender, Star Note with back plate 637. This note was bought out of a coin shop for just $50.

Just what is a mule? For small-size notes, a mule is where the plate size of the face and back do not match. This does not mean that the plate numbers are mismatched, such as 4 or 663, but that their physical size of the numbers is mismatched. In the late 1930s plate number size changed from 0.5 mm to 1.0 mm.

Mules are produced in two ways. The first and most common mule is leftover stock of backs that were already printed from the previous series. The second occurs when old plates are reused. The 629 and 637 backs were produced later when the Bureau of Engraving and Printing discovered these two plates were left over and produced notes from them.

A PMG-certified 1935-A $1 Silver Certificate mule.

Some other scarce mules to look out for include:

1928-C $2 Legal Tender
1928-C $5 Legal Tender, Back Plate 637
1928-D $5 Legal Tender, Back Plate 637
1934-B $5 Silver Certificate, Back Plate 637
1934-C $5 Silver Certificate, Back Plate 637
1934 $20 Federal Reserve Note, Boston, Back Plate 204
1934-A $20 Hawaii Federal Reserve Note

Keeping a keen eye out and knowing your mules makes collecting fun!

PMG may be contacted by writing to P.O. Box 4755 Sarasota, FL 34230 or by calling toll-free at 1-877-PMG-5570. PMG's email address is:

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