How to destroy money and make a profit
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.
$1 WITH INVERTED OBVERSE
Those 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.
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.
$20 STAR SHIFT
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.
$1 MULTIPLE GUTTER FOLDS
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.
$10 MISSING FACE PRINTING
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.
$20 MISSING BACK PRINTING
Clarence, you’re fired.
$10 INK SMEAR
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.