Changed to a Blue Seal Note
By Peter Huntoon
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
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