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Yellow Seal Changed to a Blue Seal Note
By Peter Huntoon

In what constitutes one of the most bizarre occurrences involving the paper money issued during World War II, black marketers, or other illicit holders, spuriously altered American $10 Yellow Seal Silver Certificates into Blue Seals. This was done by chemically removing the yellow seal from the notes, and overprinting a new blue seal in its place from a counterfeit die.

Joseph Boling has just discovered the fourth such specimen reported to me, and his find has the added delightful twist that the altered note was printed from Series of 1934A late-finished face plate 86.

Plate serial number 86 was assigned to a $10 Series of 1934 Silver Certificate face plate before the conversion to macro-size plate serial numbers. However, its completion was delayed until after the change, so it was finished as a Series of 1934A with the large numbers.

Plate 86 was on the presses for all of the World War II Yellow Seal $10 printings, so it was inevitable that some were spuriously altered. Finding one that was altered certainly adds icing to the cake.

The reason the notes were altered was that substantial quantities of the Yellow Seals found their way into illegitimate hands, and those holders feared that the series would be demonetized after the war. These people were sufficiently versed in American money to know that Blue Seal Silver Certificates were in regular circulation in the United States, so they simple altered their Yellow Seals so they would pass. Probably the alterations were made after the war.

Boling’s note is typical. The fine detail in the underlying TEN printed from the intaglio face plate was faded by the chemical removal of the seal.

The counterfeit seal itself is certainly passable at a quick glance, but not a perfectly faithful reproduction. The spikes on the seal are imperfectly formed, which is a common problem for counterfeiters. Many details within the seal are also imprecisely executed, including the floral elements surrounding the shield, the quality of the lettering in the Latin inscription, and the details of the key and baskets hanging from the scale.

The sure way to spot these intriguing altered notes is to find Blue Seals with serial numbers that were assigned to the Yellow Seal printings.

Now that collectors are starting to recognize these altered notes, I suppose the next step is variety collecting, with Joseph’s note being one of the keys. How about an altered star note? It is fitting that Boling should find this note. He is the foremost authority in numismatics on counterfeit and altered notes, regardless of country of origin. He told me that he has been looking for one of these ever since he learned of them. With a guy like that, it is just a matter of time.

Much more important to me is this fact: Clearly the illicit holders had sufficiently large numbers of $10s to make altering them worthwhile. You can be certain they also possessed plenty of $5s. It is time for collectors to look at their $5s because surely some of them were altered as well.

Here are the $5 and $10 Yellow Seal serial number ranges:



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