Counterfeit Detection: 1934 Series ‘Dollar’

Posted on 8/17/2021

Not only was this note produced by an inkjet printer, but it also doesn’t exist in any paper money catalog.

The PMG grading team has certified more than 240,000 Small Size Federal Reserve Notes, from the lowest denomination (often referred to as “dollar bills”) to the incredibly rare and valuable examples of the highest denomination: $10,000. But when PMG received this note in a recent submission, it was scrutinized right off the bat, because it doesn’t exist in any paper money catalog.

Counterfeit 1934 Series “Dollar”
Click images to enlarge

A close examination of the print on the note quickly identifies it as a counterfeit. It was printed on non-banknote paper using an inkjet printer. Under magnification, you can see the fuzziness in the fine details of the Treasury seal (such as the scales of justice) when compared to a real example. That’s because inkjet printing is accomplishment by spraying dots of ink on paper.

Close-up of the Treasury seal on the counterfeit (left) and a real banknote.
Click images to enlarge.

This counterfeit also had staining added to make the note appear to look heavily circulated. Similarly, counterfeiters will add toning to a fake vintage coin so that it doesn’t look like it was recently struck. This weathered look can help give a potential buyer a false sense of security.

Small Size Federal Reserve Notes began with the 1928 Series and continue to the present day. The denominations of $1, $5, $10 and $20 are what Americans typically carry in their wallets for everyday transactions and these notes are recognized as de facto currency in many other nations, as well. But the $1 was not introduced until the 1963 Series, and it did not exist as a denomination in the Large Size Federal Reserve Notes, the predecessor to the Small Size Federal Reserve Notes.

So we have a bit of a mystery here. The front of the note includes the words “FEDERAL RESERVE NOTE” at the top, and the words “SERIES OF 1934” appear in two separate places. But no paper money catalog includes a Series 1934 $1 Federal Reserve Note. And this note lacks the Federal Reserve District seal that is present at the left side of the front of all other Small Size Federal Reserve Notes of that era.

Genuine 1934 $1 Silver Certificate graded PMG 64 Choice Uncirculated EPQ.
Click images to enlarge

The counterfeit’s design does resemble that of the 1934 $1 Silver Certificate. It appears that note was used as a template and then certain design elements were changed to create the supposed 1934 $1 Federal Reserve Note. Whether this was initially done for profit or just for fun is a matter of speculation, but the note did eventually find its way to PMG in a submission.

If you have an odd-looking note and you want some additional insight into whether it’s a previously unknown paper money rarity before discarding it, remember that the PMG Guarantee backs the PMG grading team's determinations of authenticity and grade.

Related Links:

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free PMG eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the PMG eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List