SOME PAPER MONEY TERMS
Welcome to our
some commonly-used terms you'll come across as you discover the world
paper money. You'll pick up others from reading and talking with other
collectors and dealers. Feel free to e-mail us any appropriate
you don't find here. Also, if you can explain a term better or
correctly than here, please also feel free to send it along to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(AMC) - notes used in WWII by Allied military forces. These were
for use in such places as France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
is a piece of paper money which has had one or more of its prominent
changed in order to make it worth more. This could also apply to
a previously devalued note which has had a fake overprint applied in an
effort to make it acceptable in a country where the old notes have been
- this is
a note of the French Revolution from the 1790's. This money was
backed by gold or silver but by seized Church property.
the side opposite
the face of a note, basically the paper money equivalent of the reverse
of a coin.
(Bank Note) -
this can be spelled as one word or two. If you're a dealer and
run classified ads, it's definitely one word! This term has come
to indicate any paper money, whether or not it was issued by a
this is a note of the 19th century which became non negotiable or
as money due to the issuing bank going out of business. Sometimes
a bank was never really in business but issued notes as a money-making
scheme. This type of bank was called a wildcat bank.
Note - one
which has had its legal tender status removed and been declared
Cancellation may be performed by punch or pin perforation, cut
or an overprint.
these are cardboard issues from the Mexican Revolution years which were
presumably issued to help with the shortage of coins during the
been around for quite a while and are essentially paper instruments
a bank to pay out a sum of money to a specified individual or
usually after being signed or stamped. Often old checks are collected
with paper currency. Many are very ornate.
In the course of teaching business practices and the handling of
some business schools in the late 1800's produced their own fake
for use by students in the classroom. These are highly collectible
- Specifically the paper money issues in North America while under the
rule of Great Britain prior to the Revolution, from about 1690 to
- Similar to a commemorative coin, such a note is made to commemorate a
specific person, persons, or event. It should be noted that there
are far fewer different commemorative notes than there are coins.
A counterfeit note which was made during the time the genuine notes
circulating. Generally this term refers to an old counterfeit of an old
note, as opposed to a modern reproduction or counterfeit of an old
Many old contemporary counterfeits today are worth as much or more than
the notes that they were supposed to be imitating.
- These were banknotes issued during the American Revolution from 1775
to 1779 by the Continental Congress. The expression "Not worth a
Continental" comes from the fact that the currency rapidly lost its
during the war. Today, of course, these notes are highly valued by
- Paper money forgeries created to pass as the genuine item.
old notes had basically a detachable stub which would be kept by the
as a record of the note having been issued.
- Any form
of money in use as a medium of exchange or value.
Similar to a cancelled note in that the legal tender status and
value of the note has been removed. A demonetized note has not
been cancelled, however.
describes an early Canadian note vignette of Queen Elizabeth II which,
it was said, contained a likeness of the devil in her hair. There was a
hue and cry raised over this and the Queen's hairdo was modified as in
this vignette. It could be said a "Devil's Head" note is one that
has been demonitized
This refers to any of three issued U. S. large size silver certificates
from the 1896 series. They are in $1, $2 and $5 denominations and are
by many to be the ultimate in beauty as far as U. S. paper currency is
- Any banknote
which after printing is not of the quality intended for release, for
reason. It may be smudged, be lacking some part of the printing, the
numbers might not match up, etc.
is a design of a trial note which may have subsequently been authorized
or rejected by the issuing authority. It may be used to test the
of the design or to check the difficulties of manufacture.
The front of
a piece of paper money, basically the paper money equivalent of the
of a coin.
is a fake note of a design or denomination that may not even exist.
of these can look quite real to the casual observer.
Reserve Bank Note
- This is a special type of U. S. currency issued sporadically from
to 1933 by the country's Federal Reserve banks.
- Sounds like the above but actually these notes are issued through the
Federal Reserve banking system but backed up by the Federal Government
and comprise almost all of the notes you'll encounter in circulation
They've been around in one form or another since 1914.
be considered sort of the paper money hobby's equivalent to toning on a
coin, except that the yellow-brown stains of varying intensity which
foxing are generally undesireable, whereas toning on a coin may be
depending on who you talk to. Generally considered a minor defect
unless its a really noticeable stain.
- In general, banknotes of a value less than one of the issuing
standard units. When talking about U. S. paper money, this term
to the less than a dollar denominated, government-issued notes from
A note issued by the United States which was at one time redeemable in
gold coin for the face value. Issued between 1863 and 1922, these
certificates are all still worth their face value today but can no
be exchanged for gold. Other countries have issued notes
in gold from time to time.
- This term
generally refers to all of the U. S. Federal Government issued notes
1861, even though some of them don't have green backs.
- This is
the technical name for a geometric design found on many banknotes.
these guilloches are used not only to make the note look pretty but to
make it tough to copy, thus they are a security device.
One which has one or more actual autographed signatures of an
person. Signatures may also be engraved or handstamped.
fantasy note which has been created specifically for use in Chinese
where these notes are burned.
- A special
type of photographic film used in 3D imaging. These are sometimes used
on notes as a security device although their use has been somewhat
to date. It's a relatively new technology. You'll see holograms
many credit cards.
Note - This
type of note has an extremely high denomination and generally is seen
countries where massive inflation rates are occurring due perhaps to
or other severe economic pressures. Examples in the 20th century
include post WWI Germany, post WWII Hungary and present-day Yugoslavia,
where multi-billion-dinara notes were issued a few years back.
- This is a piece of currency upon which is written a promise to pay
after a specified passage of time.
note issued by a country's military to troops during the course of an
into another country. This term has also come to represent JIM
(JIM NOTE) - This currency was issued by Japan during the Second
War for use in countries which they had overrun and occupied, including
Burma and the Philippines.
- Any note officially issued solely for the use of its armed forces by
a country's military. If it's issued in an occupied country by these
forces, it's often called occupation currency.
(MPC) - These certificates comprise several series of U. S.
notes issued solely for use by its military and only in establishments
of the U. S. armed forces. The idea behind these was to prevent or
activities by military forces with respect to the black market.
- U. S. banks with a federal charter issued these notes which are also
called national bank notes. They were backed by Treasury bonds and were
issued from 1863 to 1935.
- this term
means 'emergency money' and is applied to some early 20th century local
German issues as well as a number of other countries. A lot of
later so-called notgeld were actually issued as souvenirs and
and have much less rarity and value, though they are still
collected by a number of people today.
an extra printing which has been added to a note sometime after the
original issue and it's been added by the authorized issuer or
These overprints may serve as cancellations or as a means of changing
value of a note.
is a generalized term that represents all money produced in the form of
a paper note. It also is applied, however, to certain items
from bark, plastic, cardboard and other materials.
catalog number of a note listed in the Standard Catalog of World
Money, the hobby's bible. Each number is unique for any one
You could have a P-1 for Bolivia and a P-1 for Brazil, but they would
totally different notes.
- A small
number that sometimes appears on currency showing the number of the
used to print it. These numbers are especially in use on U. S. paper
If you've heard of the term "web note," you use the location and style
of plate number to determine whether or not you have a web note, that
a U. S. Federal Reserve note that has been printed within the last
years on an experimental press known as a "web press."
- This was a type of emergency issue produced by the French colonial
in Canada sporadically between the late 17th century and mid-18th
due to a major shortage of coinage. Basically they cut up actual
playing cards into pieces and marked them as currency.
- This is
a person's picture appearing on a piece of currency.
produced for use in POW camps by prisoners of war under terms of the
is a design of a note and may be complete or not but was not issued for
general circulation. As such, serial numbers and signatures are lacking
and often there are punch holes through the area where the signatures
normally appear. Proofs are produced to test the technical
of the press and the quality of the results, among other reasons.
Sometimes proofs exist in colors different from the genuine issues and
may represent color trials.
This is a copy of a note (sometimes crude, but with the intention of
a person's attention to it) with some sort of message printed on
A note like this might be produced by a country which is at war with
The country might plant or airdrop a bunch of these phony propaganda
onto the enemy's soil so they would be picked up and read.
- One whose
serial number reads the same, forward or backward. Some
particularly those of U. S. currency, collect paper money with radar
Rag - A
piece of paper money, generally in an uncollectible state except for
- A slang
term for a paper money collector, i. e. one who sorts thru rags,
out the collectible items.
which has had its original value raised by means of an overprint from
issuing authority. A raised note can also refer to one which has
been altered in appearance in some way by unscrupulous individuals in
hopes of passing it as a higher value note.
which has been withdrawn from circulation and then put back in later
- an unissued
or unfinished note which never was placed into circulation by the
backing it. A remainder usually is missing some aspect of the
issued note, usually a date or signatures, and sometimes a serial
one which has been issued to replace a damaged, destroyed or lost
You can usually identify a replacement note by its serial number.
Some, such as on U. S. currency, have a star at the beginning of the
number. Thus, replacement notes of the United States are known as
"star notes." Notes from other countries might have an asterisk,
or start with the letter R or the number 9, for example, depending on
country. Usually a replacement note is in demand, depending of
on its condition, because it's quite a bit scarcer than the so-called
a note which was made no longer legal tender, then restamped and
as legal tender currency at a later date.
- this is a variety of propaganda note that promises safe conduct to
soldiers who surrender and turn in the note. These passes are usually
behind enemy lines.
this is a
type of substitute paper money that can be used to purchase goods or
or may be redeemable for cash in some instances.
Strip - this
is a special strip of material inserted into a note during manufacture
that may be magnetic or can glow under ultraviolet light or utilize
other property that helps to make counterfeiting that note a little
difficult. The more recent U. S. Federal Reserve notes from
of $10 up have a security strip in them. The newly redesigned
have a strip that glows under uv light. To the casual observer,
strip can sometimes look like a fold in the note.
is a system used in the majority of currency issued to keep track of
number of notes in circulation and to make counterfeiting more
because each note has a unique number. These numbers can be important
the collector, who often has a passion for low or special numbers. A
with a serial number consisting of all the same numerals, for example,
is highly sought after.
term for U. S. continental currency notes issued during the American
Because of their nearly worthless status at the time, the notes were
to be good only to stuff in your boots to fill the holes and keep your
legs and feet warm. This term also has been applied to small
notes from the U. S. and Canada.
to one or more notes which have been autographed as souvenirs,
by members of an armed forces group. These are collected by a number of
Siege Note -
of emergency currency issued during a siege to reduce a money shortage
usually caused by hoarding.
- a U. S. banknote which guaranteed payment of its face value in silver
by the U. S. Treasury. These are still legal tender but are no longer
- this generally refers to U. S. paper money issued on and after July
1929. It is quite a bit smaller in size than the older so-called
large size note shown here.
currency note, often but not necessarily with serial numbers of all
The original purpose of such notes was to provide banks and other
with examples of newly-issued money. A number of such specimens
been created expressly to satisfy collector demand. Some of these
were regular-issue notes simply overstamped "SPECIMEN" in the official
language of the issuing nation. In most examples of specimens,
are over- stamped in this way.
are facsimile notes or totally concocted notes for use in movies, tv
theatrical performances, etc. and are sought after by some currency
- a note
which has a serial number that is a repeating number.
Uncut Sheet -
refers to a sheet of paper money which was how it was printed prior to
being cut up. Obviously there are different numbers of notes to a
sheet for different countries or different historical times. Many
obsolete "broken" banknotes were printed four to a sheet. Modern
U. S. currency is printed with 32 notes to a sheet and is said to be a
32-subject sheet. Partial sheets, where the complete sheet has
cut up into smaller sections, also exist for some notes. U. S.
sheets are available at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in $1,
& $5 denominations. They are also available by mail order
the Bureau and also sometimes from dealers and at certain coin shows
the Treasury sets up an exhibit.
- a note which
has been printed only only one side. Many old U. S. "broken"
are uniface notes.
generally a rubber-stamped, hand-applied impression placed on a note to
authorize it's use in a certain area or to validate the issue in some
It could also be used to change the original value of a note or to
a previously withdrawn note.
is a slang term for a certain German 10,000 mark note design, of which
there are a couple of size varieties and two different back types of
larger size note. It's referred to as the "Vampire Note" because,
if you turn the bill a certain way, it was said you could see a vampire
reportedly sucking the blood out of the neck of the German worker
This is the German equivalent of the Canadian "Devil's Head" note.
is any of a series of Phillipine notes issued from 1944 to 1949 with
word "Victory" overprinted in large letters on the back. These
with the return of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's forces to recapture the
from the Japanese in World War II.
- This is
any picture or scene on a note other than a portrait.
the production of some paper, a special mark or design is implanted
the paper which is usually only visible or fully visible when the paper
is held up to a light source. Watermarks have been used by many
as a security device for their notes for quite a long time. The
States finally adopted a watermark for use in the newly-redesigned