Ask Cool Daddy…spare a buck?
Dear Cool Daddy: Noticed this dollar bill I got in change the other day. Odd thing about it is, on the front, the “black” printing is very worn, but the “green” still appears relatively sharp. And the reverse, which is all green, looks fine. What gives? …from Fiducia, in Sawbuck City
Dear Fiducia: So happens I know exactly what gives, but before I tell you, just a general bit of background. There are an estimated 4 billion “ones” in circulation at any given time. Life expectancy is quoted as averaging anywhere from 18 to 42 months. But of course, if they really mean that as an average, a bill could fall apart in 6 months…or…60. As a mini-experiment, I got 5 ones from the bank…a mix of series 2006’s and 2009’s…and none looked any more worn than the others,…whatever wear there was was slight wrinkling and folding of the paper itself, nothing noticeable happening with the printed design.
So here’s the scoop. Your bill is a Series 1988. And I might add, its rather old to be in circulation…somebody must have found it in the pocket of an old coat or in a drawer and spent it. In the summer of 1989, the Treasury Department got a shipment of bad ink from their supplier, which at that time was Sicpa Securink of Springfield, Virginia. This is a Swiss company, founded in 1927…their American branch was established in 1985…and they supply the Treasury Department to this day. Here’s an example I saved, along with a current bill to compare…and like yours, the green of the seal and serial number are noticeably unaffected.
And of course, that’s because the green ink they were using was OK, only the black was bad…here are the reverses of the above 2 bills compared…
The bad batch of ink was used beginning in December of 1989 and bills circulated mostly on the East Coast…until the problem was discovered and quickly corrected. Here’s a full account from the NY Times…
Notice near the end where its says these bills aren’t “collectables”…reporter Ron Alexander apparently didn’t know very much about collectors or the collecting mania!
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