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Glossary Of Bank Note/Paper Money


  • a note with a major feature or denomination fraudulently changed to raise its value or make it passable


  • the reverse side of a note

Banknote or bank note:

  • in its most literal sense, a promissory note issued by a bank. In practise, the common name for any note issued by authority of a nation and fulfilling whatever specificatons are laid down by that nation for production of paper money

Block numbers:

  • numbers designatin printing sequence or run of an issue of notes.


  • “Good fors,” taken from the wording of early 19th century private note issues of Canadian merchants, manufacturers, railways,etc


  • notes rendered worthless as money by official cancellation with punched holes, pin perforations, cutting ,overprinting, or handwriting.

Commemorative issue:

  • a note made in remembrance of some person or event, usually containing special dates, appropriat text or special serial numbers.

Control coupons:

  • government issued ration coupons to be exchanged in combination with currency to control or localize exchanges during transitional periods.


  • unauthorized, illegal reproduction of a banknote


  • the part of a note cut with or without perforations and retained by the issuer as a record at release.

Cut notes:

  • paper money officially halved, quartered or otherwise divided, with each division given its own value,often indicated by overprinting. Usually an emergency measure to provide small change during a coin shortage.

Demonitized notes:

  • paper money officially withdrawn from circulation and no longer redeemable. Not to be confused with notes no longer legal tender but still redeemable by the issuing authority or its designates.

Devil’s head notes:

  • Bank of Canada 1954 notes with a “devil’s head design” in the curls of Queen Elizabeth’s hairdo. Because the public objected to their use, the notes were withdrawn and new plates engraved or overprinted on earlier notes.

Emergency Issues:

  • note issus made under emergency conditons. Often printed or overprinted on earlier notes

Essay Note:

  • a trial print made to test a new design, to try a manufacturing or printing concept, or to otherwise preview certain features before a note is officially authorized. Essays are rarely available to collectors, but since demand is low, they may or may not bring high prices


  • the front sid of a note, similar to the term “obverse” used for coins

Fantasy note:

  • a totally invented or concocted design or denomination of paper money, whether or not in imitation of an actual note. Political parties have issued numerous varieties in pre-elections.

Federal Reserve Notes:

  • U.S. paper money issued since 1914 back the Federal Government, rather than the individual bank through which it is issued.

Fiat Money:

  • money not convertible into precious metal or specieof equivalent face value. Current U.S. Federal Reserve Note are an excellent example

Fiduciary Issues:

  • Bank notes without the backing of gold or other securities

Foil Note:

  • a process by which 2 thin layers of metal(gold,silver,etc) are bonded to a paper center, then a design impression is made


  • yellowish-brown aging stains sometimes found on older paper money, generally detracting from its value


  • commonly used term for U.S. government paper money issues. The name derives from the deep green ink used on the backs of virtually all such issues since 1861


  • the geometric design frequently surrounding the denominaton of a note

Halved note:

  • paper money issues cut into two equal portions as a precaution against loss during transportation from branches to the main offices of a  bank. These are to be differentiated from “cut notes”

Hell Money:

  • name given to varieties of specially printed fantasy paper money burned at Oriental funeral rites

Inflation Money:

  • very high denomination notes issued in periods of hyperinflation, often caused by war. In this century such issues were common in China, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia, Zaire and others. The issues were demonitized at the end of the inflationary period and the currency system completey reformed.


  • process of printing postage stamps, paper money, souvenir cards, etc. After etching a mirror image design onto a plate, the plate is inked and applied to paper, creating a normal image that often feels “raised” to the fingertips.


  • a technique developed in 1798 by a German map inspector based on the priniciple that water and grease repel each other. The image is transferred to a plate, combining the use of ink-absorbent and ink-repellent materials, the applied to paper. The final product lacks the detail and definition of intaglio as the ink is thoroughly absorbed into the paper (often used for emergency purposes or counterfeiting)

Low numbered notes:

  • notes bearing very low serial numbers, indicating they were among the first printed of a specific issue. Such notes usually command a premium especially the A /1 or #1 serial number

Military currency:

  • official paper money issues of military authorities for use by troops. Military currency includes invasion, occupation, liberation and partisan issue

Military payment cerificates(MPC):

  • U.S. military notes for use only by military personnel at U.S. military establishments to combat black market activities.


  • a note made from two plates not originally intended to be used together.

Multilingual notes:

  • paper money issued with legends in more than one language as in India, Belgium, Cyprus, the USSR,etc

Multiple denominations:

  • a note bearing denominations in more than one monetary system to facilitate exchange.


  • official printing added to a paper money inscribed for purposes of reissue, revaluation, cancellation,etc

Paper Money:

  • the general term for all forms of money inscribed on paper

Plate letters:

  • letters such as A,B,C,D,E indicated sheet position of the note at printing.

Plate numbers:

  • figures often appearing in very small type of notes to indicate the number of the plate from which they were printed. Not to be confuse with block numbers

Polymer(plastic ) notes:

  • material patented and used exclusively by Note Printing Australia or production of modern otes for Australia, Brunei,etc


  • the image of a person as seen on a note


  • a whole or partial note design without such authorizing marks as signatures, serial numbers,etc as it is not intended for circulation. May be a color trial of a note’s face or back design, a progressive color trial of two or more colors, or an imprint on large paper or paper that is otherwise different from that used for circulation notes. Proofs of notes and/or vignettes prepared by bank note printers for quality control, counterfeit detectors or salesman’s samples are someties encountered among collectors. See Essay

Propaganda Notes:

  • counterfeit notes or facsimiles of notes imprinted with a propaganda message, usually by a nation at war. Such notes were often air-dropped behind enemy lines. The similitude to genuine money of the nation caused military personnel and civilians to pick them up and read the message which could be derogatory and might also include surrender terms. Such notes have been used in both world wars and frequently since.

Psywar Notes:

  • similar to propaganda notes except that they are not made in representation of specific enemy notes. Usually intended to demoralize enemy forces.


  • Withdrawn issues placed back in circulation after a lapse of time, often with an overprint, such as a new issuer’s name.

Replacement Notes:

  • notes issued to replace damaged notes during production. They do not run in normal serial number sequence and usually bear a star, asterisk, special pre-fix letter or similar devic in the serial numbr to indicate their status. Naturally scarcer than other notes, they command a significant premium


  • notes printed from the original plate(s) but subsequent to the original issue, usually many years later, and often after the plates have fallen into hands other than the original issuing authority. Some notes are known only in reprint form, the orginal being unavailable

Revalidated Notes:

  • paper money bearing an official overprint, stamp or other marking to indicat renewed status as legal tender, despite previous invalidating of the note.


  • an overprint to change the value of a note. Frequently this is caused by monetary reform, though sometimes inflation or occupation is the cause.

Serial numbers/letters:

  • the system of numbering notes to check the quantity put into circulation and guard against counterfeiting. Often important to collectors of certain types of paper money.

Silver certificates:

  • the series of U.S. paper money first authoized in 1878 and redeemable in silver by the U.S. Treasury. This redemption privilege was revoked in 1968, although the notes are still currently legal tender for their face value.

Small size notes:

  • collectors’ terminology for the reduced size U.S. paper money that first appear July 10, 1929 and which is still in use


  • sample notes, usually bearing special or all zero serial numbers and overprinted or perforatd with the word “Speciment” in the language of the country of origin Usually distributed on a restricted basis between national banks, treasuries and law enforcement agencies to familiarize them with newly issued currency

Stage money:

  • fantasy notes or imitations of genuine notes, made for use instead of real money in movies, plays, television and the like. A number of paper money collectors seek such notes.

Stamped notes:

  • paper money issued with revenue or other adhesive stamps attached to add to the face value or to validate the notes

Star notes:

  • replacement notes issued in the U.S. so called for the star preceding the serial number on earlier issues and following it currently.


  • basic form of printing involving setting type-used very little today for paper money with the exception of adding type in margins of dates, bank branches,etc

Uncut Sheets:

  • paper moeny basically as it was printed in sheet form before separation into individual notes for circulation. Special formats such as 8,16 and 32 subjects of U.S. currency have been releasedto the collector market.

Validating stamps:

  • a handstamp added to notes either upon issue or on older notes for authorization in an area other than originally intended.


  • a pictorial design on a note, as distinguished from frame, lettering,etc. Vignettes may be scenes, objects, building, allegorical figures, portraits and the like

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