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What is this circle?

5 posts in this topic

Please look at my attachment. I've seen this on many fractional notes (usually the Washington 3c, 5c and 10c) and I can not find any explaination for it. I initially thought the guy I bought it from had marked it and ruined it. My logic tells me that maybe they stamped them this way to cancel them, does anyone actually know?


Thabk you


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The bronze overprint on the obverse of the 2nd issue fractional notes was an anti-counterfeiting device. A process of photo-copying was coming into being during this time period and the counterfeiters were using it as a means to copy notes

and etch their own plates. The government printing dept began adding a bronze powdered material surcharge to the notes as a deterrent to this process. On original notes, this would appear as a bronze lusture, but when copied via the new photo-copy method, it would turn-out black. So only notes with the bronze lusture circles would be considered genuine.


Overtime, and due to environmental conditions, this bronzing itself would turn dark. And depending upon how the note has been stored or handled it may even turn greenish in color (due to the copper in the bronze material). Examples of this series which still have the bronze lusture are more difficult to find. Examples that are graded MS-65 or MS-66 and up which have blacken surcharges are over-graded, as these grade levels should reflect closeness to when the note was originally manufactured and as such, should reflect a note with bronzing lusture. So an MS-66 2nd issue note with black or greenish surcharges is not properly graded and doesn't reflect the quality of examples within the census of these notes.


There does exist examples without the surcharge, but these are primarily experimental or proof and are cancelled with stamp and hole-punch. However, few people know that there are 1-2 examples which do not have bronzing surcharges nor are stamped or punched and are held in a couple private collections.


Hope this has been helpful in some of the history behind the oval surcharge on 2nd issue notes.

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