Counterfeit Detection: Hong Kong, China 10 Dollar Note

Posted on 2/19/2019

Counterfeiters go to great lengths to create much sought-after lucky serial numbers.

This month we will look at a 1988 10 Dollar Hong Kong, China note, issued by the Standard Chartered Bank (Pick# 278b). Because of the note’s highly desirable fancy serial number, solid number eights, our experts made sure to check it for alteration.

Hong Kong, China, 10 Dollars, 1988 (Pick# 278b) with altered serial number.
Click image to enlarge.

Both serial numbers on this note have been completely changed. The alteration is more evident on the right serial number because the underprint around the numbers has been disturbed. Close inspection, even under normal lighting, reveals that something doesn't look quite right here:

Close-up of right serial number under regular lighting.
Click image to enlarge.

The next image shows the note under a specialized light source, highlighting the problem further. The areas around the numbers fluoresce brightly. The shapes of the white spots resemble numbers, indicating the original serial number. That serial number, and surrounding underprint, were likely scraped off.

The solid #8's were then added, and the missing underprint filled in by hand. The different ink that the counterfeiter used to redraw the underprint resulted in the observed fluorescence.

Close-up of right serial number under specialized lighting.
Click image to enlarge.

The left serial number does not show the problem quite so dramatically, as it is printed on a white background without any underprint to give away the alteration. Despite that, faint shadows of a previous number are still visible under specialized lighting.

Close-up of left serial number under specialized lighting.
Click image to enlarge.

A common tool that collectors can use to investigate notes is an ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light helps to highlight things on the note that may not be visible to the naked eye. The following image shows the altered serial number under UV light. The bright blue specks that surround the numbers would not be present if this note hadn’t been tampered with.

Under a different light source, the counterfeiter's ink shows brightly on the altered note.
Click image to enlarge.

Identifying an alteration can be difficult to the untrained eye. Here at PMG, we have experienced graders and equipment to catch alterations. Collectors can be assured that any note encapsulated by PMG is backed by the PMG Guarantee of grade and authenticity.

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