Error Note Chronicles: Inverted Back

Posted on 12/21/2021

When the front and back of a note don't have the same top, the result can be a valuable printing error.

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 Inverted Back Error.

Many countries produce coinage where the reverse side is intentionally flipped (as is the case with US coins), but the same is not true of paper money. Banknotes are expected to be printed like any other document, where the top is the same on each side of the sheet of paper.

An Inverted Back Error occurs when the back of a note appears to be upside-down compared to the front. This only happens due to human error. Sheets of banknotes are printed one side at a time, and when the second side is fed incorrectly into the printing equipment, the sides are wrongly oriented in relation to each other.

It's called an Inverted Back Error because we tend to look at the front side of a banknote first and then turn it around to view the other side. In fact, when the back side of the notes are printed first (as is the case with US paper money), technically it is the front side that has the error.

1891 $20 Silver Certificate graded PMG 35 Choice Very Fine with Inverted Back Error.
Click images to enlarge.

This 1891 $20 Silver Certificate has a typical Inverted Back Error. As you can see, PMG has encapsulated it in the holder this way to call attention to the error. This particular note is a being offered in a Heritage Auctions sale in January 2022, with an estimate of at least $10,000. (To view the lot, click here.)

1974 $50 Federal Reserve Note Boston graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ with Inverted Back Error.
Click images to enlarge.

Errors on small-size US banknotes come in two types. While the Type I errors have designs that are well-centered, the Type II notes will have a misalignment on the back, as can be seen on the note above. Due to a change with how the Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced these notes, all examples starting with Series 1981-A are Type II errors. A small number of earlier notes, such as the Series 1974 $50, also are seen with the Type II error.

This particular note realized $2,280 in a Heritage Auctions sale in January 2021.

Mexico - Revolutionary, Estado de Chihuahua 1915 50 Centavos graded PMG 25 Very Fine with Inverted Back Error.
Click images to enlarge.

Inverted Back Errors can also be found on world notes, like this one from Mexico printed over a century ago.

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

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