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.


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1985 $20 Federal Reserve Note Frn Paper Money Error Note Insufficient Ink Pmg 53$5.00 -1988-a Atlanta Distrct Seals + Serial Numbers Inverted Frn Error* Star Mismatch Pmg 1988 $1 Frn Error Mismatched Serial Number G11*/g00* Rare$20 1993 Major Overprint Left Shift Error/misprint Pmg Choice Very Fine 35 Epq1977a $5 Blank Back Error Federal Reserve Note AuRare! Fr#1957-c Mule, 1934a $5 Federal Reserve Mule Note Back Plate #637 Xf+1990 $20.00 Federal Reserve Error Note "wet Transfer" Reverse To Obverse VfUs Paper Money Error 1985 $20 Federal Reserve Note 3rd Printing Shift Error Down1977 $10 Federal Reserve Note - Offset Printing ErrorRare Mismatch 1981a $1 Frn Error Mismatched Serial Number Rare F98/f99 Bart CoaPmg Certified 1957 $1 Sc Error Mismatched Serial Number Rare Aa Qa $1 Start1981 $20 Federal Reserve Note. Error, Reverse To Front.Pmg Certified Cu 64 1977a $5 Frn Error Mismatched Serial Number *rare Lb44/451977 $1 Insufficient Inking Of Black Overprint Error Pcgs Very Choice New 64ppq1977 $1 Federal Reserve Note - Offset Printing Error1977 $10 Federal Reserve Note Inverted Overprint Error Pmg 25 Very Fine. $1 1985 Cleveland Missing Green Overprint Pcgs 25ppq1985 $10 Dollar Bill Full Offset Error Print Federal Reserve Note U.s. Currency1977 One $1 Dollar Federal Reserve Note D - Cleveland Ohio Ink Smear Error United States Usa 20 Dollars 1990 Vf New York Blank Crease Error P.497, Fr.2077b1985 $5 Federal Reserve Note - Offset Printing ErrorPmg Certified 1974 $5 Frn Error Mismatched Serial Number Rare J36/j35 $1 StartPmg Certified 1963a $10 Frn Error Mismatched Serial Number Rare E63/e64 $1 StartUnited States 2009 A 100 Dollars Error Extra Piece Pair Two Notes ScarcePmg Certified 1969a $1 Frn Error Mismatched Serial Number Rare D42/d32 $1 StartSeries 2004a Error Bill Missing Seal - Twenty Dollar - Circulated"error" " Mis-matched Serial" Gem New Pmg 66 Ppq 1957-b $1 Sc 3359 1950-b Twenty Dollar Frn Error- J Kansas City-misprint Error- Rare- Gutter Fold1988-a $1.00 Federal Reserve Error Note "wet Transfer" Reverse To Obverse XfG-a Block 1957 Fr-1619 Rare "mis-matched Serial" Pcgs 55 $1 Silver Cert 27861914 10 Philadelphia Large Tender Silvercertificate&1928g Two Red Seal Richmond 1981 One $1 Dollar Federal Reserve Note D - Cleveland Ohio Butterfly Fold Error Series 1993 Us $1 Federal Reserve Note-print Error$2 1953a Legal Tender Minor Misalignment On Overprint Pcgs 151934-d $10 C.u. Green Seal Federal Reserve Note ~ Error Gutter Note1995 $1 Federal Reserve Note New York Reverse 3rd Overprint Error Scarce!Mistake/error- 1953 B $10 Us Silver Certificate Blue Seal Frn. Nice Addition!!Misprinted Circulated $1 Bill, Series 1995, District I Minneapolis1950-a Ten Dollar $10 Error Note- Gutter Fold1928 100 Lucky 6 Federal Reserve Note Currency Midgrade X-a Block 1957-b Fr-1621 "gutter Fold Error Note" Pcgs 40 Ppq Extr-fine 9395Fr#1701m, 1934 $10 Mule Silver Certificate Pl# H67/593 Vf+ To XfError $5 Five Dollar Bill, Miscut On Front Image, Nice 1999 No ReserveG-a Block Fr-1619 Rare "mis-matched Serial" 1957 Pmg 30 $1 Silver Cert 9475G-a Block Fr-1619 1957 Rare "mis-matched Serial" Pcgs 40 $1 Silver Cert 27461934 20newyork, 1934a 20philadelphia, 1953b 5alanta Reserve Currency Ugrade L31974 $1 Note With Large Ink Smear Error - Bank Of Boston1935 G $1 Dollar Bill Minor Misalignment Error Note Silver Certificate Money1996 $20 Federal Reserve Error Note Pcgs 40 Apparent Extremely Fine;b683Off Center 1950 A Us $10 Dollar Bill Federal Reserve Note Circulated ( B ) Ny 1928e Circulated United States Note Red Seal With Major Offset Printing Error Us Paper Money ErrorOne-dollar-bill, Interesting Error2 Consec 1969b $1 Fed Reserve Ia Block Error Notes Ch Cu