Counterfeit Detection: Altered $2 Legal Tender Note
Posted on 7/20/2021
Error notes have an enthusiastic following in the world of paper money collecting. But not everything that looks like an error is genuine. For example, the PMG grading team recently received this example of a 1953B $2 Legal Tender Note (Fr# 1511).
The serial numbers and seal ought to be a robust shade of red, but instead, they look sickly yellow. If it were genuine, this would be a rare and valuable Wrong Color Ink Error. Let’s take a closer look.
It is interesting that a small portion of the seal does appear to be the correct color. While it is possible for something to contaminate the ink at the printing facility and change its color, it would not produce the variation in color seen here. That’s because this note’s serial numbers and seal are created in a single pass using a single color of ink.
Special lighting provides some additional insight. While this particular note is not in terrific shape to begin with, notice that there is an area to the right of Jefferson’s portrait reacting differently to the light. This patch overlaps with the part of the seal that remained red, which indicates the bright areas around it were treated with some sort of chemical that altered the overprint color.
It’s not clear why the person who altered the note left a small section untouched. It is possible that they were using a chemical to remove stains on the note, and the change in the color of the serial numbers and seal was accidental. If the surviving original color was left intentionally, perhaps it was meant to highlight the change in color. Whatever the reason, this note cannot be certified by PMG.
PMG does certify genuine Wrong Color Ink Errors, including this 1990 $50 Federal Reserve Note (Philadelphia). As you can see, the Federal Reserve District seal (at left) and the four Federal Reserve District numbers (“3”) appear in dark green, not the expected black. This particular note realized $900 at a Heritage Auctions sale in January 2020.
|1990 $50 Federal Reserve Note (Philadelphia) with Wrong Color Ink Error graded PMG 35 Choice Very FineClick image to enlarge|
If you want to make sure your banknote error is genuine, remember that the PMG Guarantee backs the PMG grading team's determinations of authenticity and grade.
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