Error notes are examples of paper money that somehow managed to make it into circulation, despite the obvious printing mistakes displayed on their faces (fronts) and backs. It shouldn’t be too surprising that a certain number of error notes exist. After all, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces more than 10 billion notes a year, so a statistically tiny number of errors is hardly an indication of lax quality standards. But that very scarcity is precisely what makes error notes so interesting to collectors.

Errors are often organized by when the error occurred during its printing and handling. U.S. paper money produced during the 20th century is printed in three waves. The first printing creates the image on the back of the note, the second printing is for the face, and the third printing adds serial numbers and seals to the face. Other errors are due to the way the paper is handled (folding and cutting errors) during any of these printings. In all cases, the more dramatic and glaring the error, the more valuable it is to collectors.

The so-called “king” of paper-money errors is a note with mismatched denominations on its face and back, which means the mistake occurred during the second printing (sometimes a mismatch error is perpetuated through the third printing, too). A less-valuable but related error is a note whose face is inverted. Double printings at any stage are also sought, evidence that a sheet has gone through the press more than once. The result is usually a note whose face, back, or overprints appear blurry, since the images are not perfectly aligned.

Lack of ink, or too much, is a relatively common error. In general, the bigger the blank spot or smear, the more valuable the error. Offset printing errors refer to those goofs that result in some of the face appearing on the back of a note, or vice versa. Notes printed out of register are also fairly common. In these situations, the image intended for the back or face of a note might appear to be cut off at the top or bottom. In fact, the error is due to the printing of the note, not its cutting.

That said, sometimes an error in cutting is exactly the problem, although such notes are only considered valuable if you can see approximately 50 percent of bottom and top halves of the face or back, stacked on top of each other like a movie projector that’s gone haywire.

Finally, errors committed on the various types of large-size notes issued from 1861 to 1928 are even more rare than the ones that have been produced since. In general, that means that an error on a large note such as a Silver Certificate will be worth more than the same error on a modern Federal Reserve Note. Still, as always, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, the value of an error found on most National Bank Notes, which were issued from 1863 to 1935, generally has more to do with the inherent rarity of that particular National note rather than the type of error on it.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

American Currency Exhibit

American Currency Exhibit

This collection, from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, covers currency from 1690 through half a dozen era… [read review or visit site]

Bank Note Bank

Bank Note Bank

This world banknote and currency image-sharing database is notable for its breadth of contributors and content (abo… [read review or visit site]

Two Cent Revenue Stamped Paper

Two Cent Revenue Stamped Paper

Everything you'd ever want to know about revenue stamped paper (first authorized in 1862). This site features infor… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1993 $10 Federal Reserve Note Cutting Error Note Pcgs Choice About New 58ppq1995 - $1 Federal Reserve Note - 3rd Printing Shift Error - CirculatedFrn Rare Currency Error Mismatched Serial Numbers Certified Pcgs 1969-d $1 NoteGiori Press Test Note Single Lincoln Washington Grant1969 D One Dollar Bill Misprint No Reserve!$10-1977-a Full Face To Back Offset Fed. Res. Ink Error Note! Extremely Rare!!!"unc-gem" Shifted 3rd Printing Error 1969c Fr-1972-d $5 "d15197055b", Scan-#175Rare Mismatched Serial Number $5 1974 Frn 35/36 Pcgs 58 Ppq From Run Of 64s/65sUs 1985 $1.00 Error Frn Note Seals & Numbers Printed On Reverse Au1977 Us $1.00 Offset Print Transfer Error"unc Cu~gem" Printed Foldover Error 1988a $5 (5 Dollars), Scan-023Tcs 1934d $5 Silver Certificate ***gem Uncirculated*** Superb Mint Gem1935-d $1 Silver Cert-excess Butterfly FlapGiori Test Note Reverse Designs, Blank Back, With StainDouble Error!!! Dramatic Green And Black Shifting Downward 1981 A $1 Fed. Res.Misaligned Green/black Portion Of Overprint 1981 $1 Error Note Extremely Rare!!!$2 1928g Large Red Seal Us Note Error E25586242a Two Dollar Free Shipping Tcs 1899 $2 Silver Certificate. ***the Mini Port Hole Note*** Horseblanket1996 $100 Frn 30% Partial Offset Onto BackDramatic Foldover Error On A Series 1977 $1 Federal Reserve NoteTcs 1928 "no Letter" A/a $1 ***funnyback*** ***gem Uncirculated*** Superb"unc Cu~gem" Printed Misalignment Error 1950a $10 (10 Dollars), Scan-023"pcgs-66" 1 Pc. Overinked Star In Lr S/n Error 2006 Fr-2094g* $20 "ig 05437637*""unc" Offset Error 100% Face To Back 1977a Fr-1910l $1 "l20087757g", Scan-#0611985 $5 Major Mint Error Green Seal Federal Reserve Bank Of Cleveland,ohioPmg 1974 $5 Federal Reserve Note Fold Over Error Choice Uncirculated 64 1988 $5.00 Back To Front Overprint Error Federal Reserve NotePartial Face To Back Ink Transfer 4 In-a-row! $5 1995 F.r.n. Amazing!!!Series 1950b $10 Federal Reserve Note- Off Center1981 $1 Frn Extra Paper On Top Of Note1981 Boston, Mass. One Dollar Low Serial Number Star Note A 00581894 * Un CircFive Dollar Federal Reserve Inking Error On Serial Number!"pcgs-66" 1 Pc. Overinked Star In Lr S/n Error 2006 Fr-2094g* $20 "ig 05437639*"2014 Coin & Currency Set Frn Pmg 66 Epq **error Note** With Turned Digit1977 $20 Major Mint Error Green Seal Federal Reserve Bank Of Chicago,illinois$1 Federal Reserve Note, Front Only Alignment Error, 1977 A, Atlanta, Kg4Error Note Frn $5 1950 Pmg Graded Vf 30 Epq Nice Errror Note $5.00 Star Note 2009 Series 00300090* Lots Of Zeros! Over Inked! Error Note Au!Unique & Gorgeous 1995 Five Dollar Federal Reserve Inking Error Note! Rare!!!Partial Back To Face Offset Inking Error Note $5 Frn Uncirculated 1995-stunning!$1 1977 Error Federal Reserve Note Pmg Gem 65 Epq "pcgs-65" 1 Pc. Overinked Star In Lr S/n Error 2006 Fr-2094g* $20 "ig 05437638*"Giori Test Note Washington , Lincoln, Grant Obverse Designs Blank Back, Unique 1995 $5 Double Shift Error Note! Both The Serial#s &black Seal!"unc Cu~gem" Printed Foldover Error 1981a Fr-1977k $5 (5 Dollars), Scan-511Two Dollar $2 Bill Funny Cut Lucky MoneyUnique $5 Moderate Faulty Alignment Of Overprint 1981 Series!!!Error 2006 $1 Frn District Seals Overinked 2 Consec Gem Unc 99cent Start Nr 2006 $1 Federal Reserve Note Full Repeater Note Error $5 1974 Federal Reserve Ntoe Offset Printing Pmg 58 Epq Great Color"vf+" Shifted 3rd Printing Error 1976 Fr-1935-c $2 "'c22791621a", Scan-#0611990 Federal Reserve Note Error. No Serial Numbers. Ex. Lyn Knight Cert. Rcgs 252006 Misprinted One Dollar Bill Ink Transfer CirculatedSeries 2004 A 20 Dollar With Treasury Seal Missing."vf+" Offset Error 1981a Fr-2074g Chicago $20 (20 Dollars) "'g28714803a", #930Nice Ink Smear$5 Federal Reserve Note With Rare Inking Error On Left Front Face!1995 $1 Misaligned Face Printing ErrorError Note Silver Certificate 1935-c Me Block Signatures Are Brown Rare $1 2009 Gem Cu Faux Mismatched And Miscut Fake Error, From Uncut Sheet1953 A $2 Error With Extra Serial Number