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    

Dramatic 1969c $5 Frn Printed Fold Error Pmg Extremely Fine 401999 $1 Frn Inverted Overprint Error Pmg About Uncirculated 53**error** $1 1928 (( Red Seal )) Funny Back United States Note #-am1995 $1 Frn Missing Back Printing Error Pcgs Choice New 63ppq1974 $1 Federal Reserve Note Mint Error1988a $20 Frn Overprint On Back Error Pcgs Superb Gem New 67ppq1999 $1 Frn Insufficient Inking Of Back Error Pmg About Uncirculated 53 Epq$1 1988a Major Shifted Second Print Error Or Misprint Pmg Very Choice Unc 64 Epq$1 1977a Major Shifted Third Print Error Or Misprint Pmg Very Choice Unc 641985 $20 Frn Insufficient Inking Of Back Error Pcgs Very Choice New 64ppq1981 $20 Frn Ink Smear On Back Error Pcgs Very Choice New 64(2)1996 $20 Frns Crisp & Appear Unc Offset Printing Error Consecutive Even #'s Rare Denomination Blank Back $10 Error Pcgs 64ppq Choice New 1977a Fr. 2024c2006 $1 Frn Misalignment Error Pmg Extremely Fine 401999 $20 Twenty Dollar Frn Fold Over Error Pmg Vf 251981 $20 Overprint Misaligned Error Fed Note Kansas City Pmg Cu 63Lot Of 2 $5 Pcgs 65ppq Gem New Insufficient Face Ink And Cutting Error Both 19881995 $5 Frn Insufficient Inking Of Back Error Pmg Gem Uncirculated 66 Epq2013 Sequential $1 Insufficient Inking, Note Error (340-e & 341-e)1996 $20 Frn Insufficient Inking Of Back Error Pmg Gem Uncirculated 66 Epq2013 $1 Bill Wet Ink Offset Transfer Error, Front To Back Super Rare (k Series)1977 $1 Frn Insufficient Inking Of District Overprint Error Pmg Gem 65 Epq1950a $5 Frn Dark Partial Back To Front Offset Printing Error Pmg Choice 64 Epq1957b $1 Silver Certificate U37/u47 Mismatched Serial Numbers Error Pmg 66 EpqRare 1935 C $1 Silver Certificate Major Off Center Shift Error Note1935c $1 Silver Certificate Misaligned Back Printing Error Pcgs Very Fine 20Two 2 Lot Of $100 Notes! Black Ink Smear Error $100 1996 & 1981 Green Ink Smear Frn Rare Currency Error Mismatched Serial Numbers Certified Pcgs 1969-d $1 Note1995 $1 Dollar Bill Misalignment Error Shift Print Fed Note Currency Paper MoneyLot Of 2 $1 Error Notes - Dropped Seal And Butterfly Cut - Bid Now!Excellent Error $20 With Third Print On Back! High Grade = Bid Now!Hgr ((error)) 1995 $5 X-rare ((seal + Serial#'s Missing)) Pcgs Superb Gem 67ppq1929 $20 Dollar Bill Brown Seal Fr Bank Note National Currency Old Paper Money1969 D $1 One Dollar Frn Error Back To Face Offset Pcgs 64 Ppq Fr 1907-fJc&c - Rare Fr.1607 1935 $1 Silver Certificate "1935 D Silver Certificate Off Center Back PrintVery Scarce $2 Board Break On Face 1995 Pcgs 65ppq Gem New! Great Error Bid Now1977 $1 One Dollar Frn Error Pre-back Print Foldover Pcgs Vf35 Ppq1935 E $1 One Dollar Silver Certificate Error Back To Face Offset Pcgs Vf 20 1995 $1 Frn Misaligned Face Printing Error Pcgs Very Fine 302013 $1 Frn Insufficient Inking , Rare Note ErrorRare Error $1.00 Dollar 2013 Miscut Print Faulty Alignment United States Note1935 E Silver Certificate Inverted Serial Number Error Y-g2003 $2 Frn Minor Misalignment Of Digit In Ur Serial Number Error Pcgs 64ppqCu Giori Press Test Note - Edgar L. Pigman Hoard Reverse Designs Blank BackCu Giori Press Test Note - Edgar L. Pigman Hoard Lincoln Washington Grant Fr-1975-g Pmg 1977a $5 Federal Reserve Note Chicago Choice Uncirculated 632013 $1 Insufficient Inking, Note Error (955-e)Hgr ((error)) 1995 $1 X-rare ((seal + Serial#'s Missing)) Near UncirculatedScarce Fr. 2037a* Uncut Sheet Of (4) 2003 $10 Star Notes, Rare Ten Dollar BillsFr-2118-b Pmg 1974 $50 Federal Reserve Note New York Choice About Unc 581988a $1 Frn Ink Smear On Back Error Pcgs Gem New 65ppq$2 1995 Frn==overprint On Back==deep Embossing= "no Reserve" 2013 $2 Dollar Bill, False Cutting Error In Crisp Uncirculated Condition2013 $1 Frn Insufficient Inking , Rare Note Error2013 $1 Frn Insufficient Inking , Rare Note Error 2003-a $1 Frn Insufficient Inking , Rare Error Note 1974 $1 Frn Minor Misalignment Of Overprint Error Pcgs Gem New 65ppqNew Miscut 2003-a $1 Dollar (((atlanta))) False Cutting ErrorFr-2023-b Pmg 1977 $10 Federal Reserve Note New York Choice Very Fine 35