Counterfeit Detection: Malaya 1 Dollar with Solid-8 Serial Number

Posted on 10/19/2021

A counterfeiter tried to get fancy — and lucky — with this fake note.

Solid Serial Numbers are a type of fancy serial number that involves only one number that is repeated. For notes with print runs in the millions, Solid Serial Numbers are extremely rare and highly desired by collectors. Because paper money collectors appreciate Solid Serial Numbers more today than they did decades ago, it can be difficult to find examples of them on vintage notes.

Recently, a Malaya 1941 (ND 1945) 1 Dollar (Pick# 11) with a Solid-8 Serial Number was submitted to PMG. Solid-8 Serial Numbers are particularly popular: They are considered lucky in much of Asia because the Chinese character for “eight” looks similar to the one for “fortune.”

Counterfeit Malaya 1941 (ND 1945) 1 Dollar (Pick# 11) with a Solid-8 Serial Number.
Click images to enlarge

The PMG grading team noticed that the paper of this note felt strange. It is thicker than expected and has an odd, glossy sheen to it, similar to very thin photo paper.

Suspicion that this is a counterfeit note was quickly confirmed by viewing it under high magnification. The note’s surface is covered in rosettes of dots colored cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This is indicative of a halftone/four-color process printing, in which dots in basic colors are printed in varying sizes to create all other shades and colors. Banknotes are not printed using this process because it is too easy for counterfeiters to exploit.

Close-ups of serial numbers on the counterfeit (left) and a genuine note.
Click images to enlarge.

Let’s look at this counterfeit note a little closer to see how these dots are a telltale sign of trouble. Notice how the edges of the 8’s of the serial number seem bumpy, unlike a genuine serial number. The wavy lines behind the serial number also appear much thicker on the counterfeit. A keen eye will also spot subtle differences in the font used on the 8’s in the counterfeit versus the ones in the genuine example.

Interestingly, the counterfeiter tried to replicate the watermark of a lion that is usually found on these notes. However, the image of the lion is not a true watermark; it was printed using the same process as the rest of the note! When the magnification is increased, it looks less like a lion and more like the smattering of dots that it truly is.

Close-ups of the watermark area of the counterfeit note.
Click images to enlarge.

PMG has certified more than 4,500 examples of Malaya Pick# 11, each one backed by the PMG Guarantee of authenticity and grade. You can explore the relative rarity of genuine examples of this note and many others in the PMG Population Report.

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