How to destroy money and make a profit

By on August 26th, 2016 in Editorial

But rarely has this been more literally embodied than in the thriving collectors’ market for misprinted money. The wide variety of possible balls-ups in the complicated minting process means there are a whole range of bizarre mistakes that might befall a banknote – and the more of them that are present on an individual piece, the more rare and valuable they’ll be.

Let’s take a look at some choice examples of the USD variety, and calculate how much specific accidents have inflated each note’s worth.

upsidedownThose with an eagle eye may be able to pinpoint how things have gone slightly awry here. The back of this $1 bill has been printed upside down, and – not only that – but misaligned to the point of almost 25% of its iconic imagery being sheared into the abyss. With the eye of God capsized and burrowing downwards, the implications are almost satanic.
Value: $1,053
Increase: 105,200%

Here’s a textbook example of a foldover making it look like George Washington is blowing his nose. The top right of this bill was folded over prior to being cut – that’s why you can see right-hand serial number, treasury seal and two of the four District numbers (the 5s) printed on the bent over corner.
Value: $760.5
Increase: 75950%

A slightly more subtle example – look closely and you can see the star just to the left of 7th US President Andrew Jackson is careening towards his head like a throwing star in a ninja assassination attempt. Look closer and you can see both serial numbers, the treasury seal and all four district numbers have also shifted to the right.
Value: $643
Increase: 3115%

random lines
Unexpected crimps and creases have created a fun array of random lines on this single, as if George Washington has gone to an exciting laser show. Perhaps the first President of the United States was a Pink Floyd fan.
Value: $175.5
Increase: 17450%

Uh oh. What’s happened here? Looks like good old ‘Sawbuck’ Clarence was asleep at the minting machine when he printed this faceless $10 bill. The serial numbers, district star and federal seal are all in place though, so we’ll let old Clarence off the hook this time – he’s been in the job 40 years and cranked out more flawless notes than most people have had hot dinners.
Value: $351
Increase: 3050%

missingbackClarence, you’re fired.
Value: $555.75
Increase: 2678.75%

That was really uncalled for, Clarence. Sorry everyone, but a disgruntled ex-employee has flown off the handle and taken his frustrations out on an innocent ten-spot, leaving this unfortunate Hamilton looking like it has been soiled by a furious squid.
Value: $438.75
Increase: 4287.5%

All images and prices provided courtesy of

Posted by

James is freemarket’s Chief Commercial Officer. He has a history of finding new ways to solve age-old financial challenges and was responsible for launching some of the first online money transfer and prepaid card initiatives in Europe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *