Counterfeit Detection: Friedberg #1930-F

Posted on 8/18/2020

A shifted seal indicates that a Friedberg #1930-F is a falsified error.

As we have seen in previous examples, some alterations require less effort from a counterfeiter than others. Generally, an alteration that only requires one step — such as simply adding an overprint to change a Pick number, or removing a section of print to create an insufficient inking error — will be easier to believably execute than one that requires multiple steps, and will also leave less evidence for a collector or grader to notice.

However, certain alterations may require a counterfeiter to make multiple adjustments to the same piece in order to create a believable alteration. In many cases, a genuine section of print may need to be removed before a false addition is made.

Counterfeit Friedberg #1930-F
Click image to enlarge.

The note that we are looking at today is one such alteration. The above note, a Friedberg #1930-F, was submitted to PMG as an error, as the district overprint appears to be misaligned. However, right away, our graders were able to notice something wrong: only the district seal is shifted, whereas the rest of the district overprint (the 6’s in the four corners) is where it is supposed to be. As these elements are normally printed in the same pass, such an error shouldn’t be possible, so we looked a bit more closely.

Shifted seal (left); Close-up of shifted seal (right)
Click images to enlarge.

First, we took a look at the ink on the shifted seal. As you can see, at high magnification, the seal looks much different than the adjacent print — a fuzzy blue halo appears around the edges. This is likely indicative of printing using a high-quality inkjet printer (which, of course, is not how US paper money is normally produced).

This evidence should be enough for us to deem this note altered, but just to be safe, we also wanted to take a look at the area where the original seal should be. After all, as mentioned before, our counterfeiter would have had to remove the genuine seal in order for the fake seal to make sense as a misaligned overprint.

Area where the original seal should be
Click image to enlarge.

Under normal lighting, nothing seems to be too wrong here — there is a bit of wear in the area where the seal should be, but that could be normal. However, when we look at this area under different light sources, the problem becomes more evident.

Area where the original seal should be
under special lighting
Click image to enlarge.

Under this special lighting, we can see that the area of the seal is lighting up somewhat. Such a reaction is often indicative of a chemical substance being used to remove ink from the note. Unfortunately, we cannot make out any distinct shapes, so we checked a few more light sources to be safe.

Area where the original seal should be under short-wave light (left)
and long-wave ultraviolet light (right)
Click images to enlarge.

The above two images were taken under first short-wave and then long-wave ultraviolet light. Under these light sources, a very clear dark circle is evident where the seal should be, and there is even a faint outline of the district letter “F” in the center. At this point, we were able to say with certainty that the genuine district seal was removed and a false one was added in the wrong location.

Whether ink is being removed, added, or both, PMG’s graders are able to use their expertise and special equipment to catch falsified errors such as these. As such, collectors who submit to us can rest assured that their notes will be backed by the PMG Guarantee of grade and authenticity.

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