Error Note Chronicles: Printed Fold Error

Posted on 11/16/2021

When paper folds during the printing process, ink in the design can separate or even end up on the wrong side of the note.

Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG®) is the world’s leading authority on banknote errors, a popular segment of numismatics. In Error Note Chronicles, we take an in-depth look at different errors. This month’s topic is the Printed Fold Error.

Banknotes are printed in sheets, with the ink added to one side at a time, before these sheets are cut into individual notes. A Printed Fold Error occurs when the sheet accidentally becomes folded in between printings.

For example, the design looks normal on the back of this 1928 $5 Federal Reserve Note (Dallas), but on the front, a fold created a gap in the printing on the right side. The back side of Federal Reserve Notes are printed first, so we can conclude that a fold occurred at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility between the first and second printings.

1928 $5 Federal Reserve Note (Dallas) with a Printed Fold Error graded PMG 35 Choice Very Fine
Click images to enlarge.

This note is being offered at a Heritage Auctions sale on November 21, 2021, with an estimate of $500 and up.

Printed Fold Errors are not to be confused with Gutter Fold Errors, another type of error that can create this kind of gap in the design. However, in Gutter Folds, the fold occurs before any printing takes place.

Another example of a Printed Fold Error is this 1993 $20 Federal Reserve Note (San Francisco). The error here occurred between the second printing (which includes most of the design of the front) and the third printing (which includes the serial number, seals and district numbers).

1993 $20 Federal Reserve Note (San Francisco) with a Printed Fold Error graded PMG 55 About Uncirculated
Click images to enlarge.

After the second printing was completed normally, the note and some of the excess paper beyond the margin was folded over the left side of the front of the note. The first five digits of the left serial number and nearly all of the black district seal are printed on this folded section. If you were to pull this extra paper outward and lay it flat, the serial number would separate and part of it would appear on the back of the note!

This particular note is being offered in a Stack's Bowers auction on November 30, 2021, with an estimate of $200 to $300.

World notes can also have Printed Fold Errors. Look at the back of this Bangladesh 2003 2 Taka, and you'll see text at the top of the note heading toward its edge at roughly a 45-degree angle. That text is actually a serial number, and it was supposed to have been printed horizontally above the image of the Shaheed Minar monument on the front of the note. Because the design of the front and back of the note otherwise looks ordinary, we can extrapolate that the fold happened with a printing for the serial number after most of the design was already printed.

Bangladesh 2003 2 Taka with a Printed Fold Error graded PMG 50 About Uncirculated. Realized $204 in October 2020.
Click images to enlarge.

PMG, an independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group® (CCG®), has certified many exciting error notes, including the famous “Del Monte” error note that realized $396,000 in a January 2021 sale.

Collectors and dealers who have error notes can submit them to PMG for certification under the Economy Special grading tier or higher with “error” or the specific error noted under the Variety/Pedigree column on the submission form. There is no additional fee for this service.

For more information about submitting to PMG, visit

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