Posted by Chad Hawk - Paper Money Guaranty Grader
There is a significant difference between notes that have been altered and those that have been repaired.
Here at PMG we have encountered several questions pertaining to the issue of altered notes compared to repaired notes. There is a significant difference between altered and repaired notes, which I’d like to point out here. The difference between a note that is altered and a note that is repaired is that a note that has been repaired has not been worked on to give the appearance of something different. It is being worked on to enhance the appearance of the note’s condition.
Altered notes are notes that have been worked on to give the appearance of another note. For example, many US Small Size notes have been altered to give the appearance of errors. We have seen dot matrix examples of printings on top of original notes in an effort to create double print errors, offset printing errors, inking errors, etc. We have also seen US notes that have been cut from BEP issued sheets incorrectly to give the appearance of a misalignment error. The notes are considered altered because the cutting did not occur during the issuing process.
Altering is very common in other parts of the world as well as the US. We have seen several Chinese notes altered to create the appearance of specimens. The original serial number on these notes is removed from the surface and replaced with the 000000 serial number that is used on specimens. On these same notes as well as other types, false overprints are also used to create the appearance of a specimen or other variety. We have seen several good alteration examples, so it is important to closely examine all notes. We have also seen notes with cancel holes that have been filled in to give the appearance of an issued note that had not been canceled. Some notes are much rarer in this form, so it is easy to see why altering occurs.
Repaired notes are notes that have been worked on to improve their appearance. If a note is discolored, a substance is often added to the surface to repair the stained area. Tears, splits, ink burn, etc. are often repaired with some type of adhesive to close the area and improve the overall appearance. Repairs are also done to increase the value of the note. If a cancel hole is filled in with something to create the appearance of a non-canceled note, this is NOT a repair. This is a form of altering the note rather than repairing the note. If a tear coming off a cancel hole is closed, but the hole remains open, the note has been repaired rather than altered.
There can be a fine difference between altered and repaired notes, so it is important to learn how to distinguish the two. Notes are repaired and altered to increase their value, so it is important to know as much information as possible when viewing notes and always expect the unexpected. People are increasingly working on notes as the industry continues to gain strength.