Counterfeit Detection: Altered $5 Note from a US Bank

Posted on 8/20/2019

Until the National Bank Acts were introduced in 1866, obsolete banknotes were often used to deceive unsuspecting people.

Prior to the establishment of a federal banking system in the United States, many institutions printed and issued their own paper money. Such institutions included state banks, state and local governments, railroads, and merchants. The term “obsolete banknote” is used to refer to this kind of paper money, which is no longer accepted as currency. Obsolete banknotes were used until 1866, when the National Bank Acts stripped the right of institutions to issue their own notes.

During the era of obsolete banknotes, many dishonest people tried to swindle the unsuspecting with non-genuine currency. The $5 note below appears to have been issued by the Pocasset Bank of Fall River, Massachusetts.

Altered $5 note, Pocasset Bank.
Click image to enlarge.

While the Pocasset Bank was a real bank in Massachusetts, they never issued the note pictured above. Its design does look suspiciously similar to the note below, from the Southern Bank of Bainbridge, Georgia.

Original $5 note, Southern Bank.
Click image to enlarge.

The note in question has residual ink where the guilty party failed to completely remove the original text. Part of the word “GEORGIA” remains beneath the bank name, and part of the letter “d” from “Bainbridge” remains above the letter “E” in “RIVER”.

Part of the word "GEORGIA" remains beneath the bank name.
Click image to enlarge.

The top of the letter "d" in Bainbridge remains above the "E" in Fall River.
Click image to enlarge.

These alterations can be easy to spot without the use of special equipment. All notes encapsulated by PMG are backed by our PMG Guarantee, including any altered, counterfeit, or spurious obsolete notes listed in James Haxby’s Standard Catalog of United States Obsolete Bank Notes.

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