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Inconsistent Paper Size. How, And How Common?

 
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Author Previous TopicReplies: 8 / Views: 869Next Topic  
Valued Member

United States
76 Posts
 Posted 01/25/2023  5:21 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add TheSerialFlorist to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I got a nice bunch of star notes the other day and it caught my eye that the margins were kind of large. I wasn't looking for this specifically and it's not blatant but it was definitely noticeable.

Turns out that it's not so much the margins as the length of the paper itself is larger than the standard 15.6 cm (6.14 inches); it's 15.85 cm. Careful not to get into an OCD quagmire, I decided to compare 25 random bills of different denominations and years to see how much the paper size might be different. The physically largest and smallest are in the pictures. I know these are not worth anything but I started to wonder, do the differences accumulate? Like laying tiles, once you get out of whack you're screwed?




Between the star note and the 1963 red $5, the variance is 2.6% which sounds like an awfully wide range to me for a highly regulated, highly repeatable production process. I looked but I could not find anything on line about BEP tolerances for currency paper size. For reference, a standard sheet of 8.5x11 paper has an allowable 1.4% variance. I'm hoping to learn more about BEP standards.

Is there a tolerance for size of a bill given the adopted standard of 6.14 x 2.61? If the tolerance is violated, are the bills destroyed and star notes created?
I have a few similar star notes from the same strap (not precisely consecutive tho), all at the larger 15.85 cm. Do those excess 25 cms (3/32nds) somehow snowball into more and more 32nds? Do other bills or sheets get cheated?
Is there any known error where a bill is printed normally but on an unfolded, significantly larger uncut piece of paper, like a 7-inch footprint?

Awaiting to hear from the experts!
Edited by TheSerialFlorist
01/25/2023 6:33 pm
Pillar of the Community
United States
4034 Posts
 Posted 01/25/2023  6:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SteveInTampa to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It doesn't surprise me that the older, $5 Legal Tender is shorter. Back then the paper was dampened before both the first and second intaglio print run.

Paper naturally shrinks over time. I don't believe the minor differences measured are a big deal. Margins on modern $1 FRNs, especially the backs, have always seemed more generous than other denominations to me.
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United States
1594 Posts
 Posted 01/26/2023  12:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add DoubleEagle20 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I would assume the size is more consistent now, due to bill readers.
Valued Member
United States
76 Posts
 Posted 01/26/2023  1:10 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TheSerialFlorist to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
thanks @SteveinTampa, and @doubleeagle20 yeah it seems that newer bills are more consistently close to spec, other than of course those larger 2017 star notes. But I agree no big deal, thx for the info guys
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 Posted 01/28/2023  12:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add datadragon to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting finding. You should compare the 2017a to prior 2017, 2013, 2009 to see if it started with any particular series. Per the Treasury Department Appropriation Bill of 1929, notes issued 1928 and earlier were 7+ 7/16 by 3+9/64 inches (18.9 cm 8.0 cm) and later issues were to be 6+5/16 by 2+11/16; (16.0 cm 6.8 cm), which allowed the Treasury Department to produce 12 notes per 16+1/4 by 13+1/4 (41 cm 34 cm) sheet of paper that previously would yield 8 notes at the old size.

Modern measurements of these large size notes reveal an average dimension of 7+3/8 by 3+1/8 inches (18.7 cm 7.9 cm). Small size notes (described as such due to their size relative to the earlier large-size notes) are an average 6+1/8 by 2+5/8 inches (15.6 cm 6.7 cm), the size of modern U.S. currency.

Each measurement is 0.08 inches (2.0 mm) to account for margins and cutting. (Note: differences in size may also involve in historical changes in the definition of the inch.) Also here https://www.coinworld.com/news/pape...g-hobby.html

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1331 Posts
 Posted 01/29/2023  7:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add coinsearcher83 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The $1 looks like it's from position J1 which is the bottom left note on a 50-subject sheet. Maybe the sheet was shifted slightly to the left during cutting which left it a little extra paper horizontally.

The red seal looks shorter, at least in part, because it's so wrinkly.
Valued Member
United States
76 Posts
 Posted 02/03/2023  9:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TheSerialFlorist to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I did a little more research and compared a few more recent bills. I included a second 2017A for comparison. The range is the same as my original set...a small of 15.45 cm and a large of 15.85. The shortest is still within the spec provided by @datadragon of 15.6 +/- .2, but the larger one is out of spec and I have 25 new near-sequential star notes like it. All are15.85 length and thus all out of spec. The plate position on every one is J5, or the lower right corner of a 50-bill sheet. So there must be others from the '5' column, assuming the sheet were straight.



But I observed something more. It's not just the paper that's larger. The printing itself is larger. One of my star notes forfeited its numismatic life in the pursuit of knowledge... I folded it so I could better line up features and confirm the lack of alignment.

Below, the larger bill green frame is 14.5cm, and the shorter frame is 14.2cm. they are aligned on the left side but 3mm apart on the right side.


below I tried to align the frame around the portrait but the size difference contorts the picture. Note that the green design on the larger bill extends beyond the smaller bill's design on both sides.



Not earth shattering but I thought an interesting quirk
Edited by TheSerialFlorist
02/03/2023 10:05 pm
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 Posted 02/03/2023  11:05 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add datadragon to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting Here is some basic info on the production process and inspection https://www.bep.gov/currency/how-money-is-made Also keep in mind The Large Examining Printing Equipment (LEPE) used for the $1 these days may also have differences to the older equipment. Font sizes, serial number coloring left vs right side, paper size, who knows what will be found as few are really looking that deep like some of the people on this forum. https://www.coinworld.com/news/pape...ep-lepe.html
Valued Member
United States
76 Posts
 Posted 02/05/2023  3:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TheSerialFlorist to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the links datadragon, very helpful and insightful as always. Sounds like two independent things going on. First, the paper itself being out of spec, even though the website specifically says it scrutinizes both edges. Independently, there is variation in the plates (my bills are all J7, J41 or J42)). Seems I happened to get a combination of both a large bill and a large plate, and the other one was a small bill and a small plate?

Large Star note: 14.5 back green frame, 15.85 bill width
Normal 14.3 back green frame, 15.60 bill width
Smaller Lew note 14.2 back green frame, 15.45 bill width

I wonder what the smallest plate would look like on the largest paper or vice versa but I'm done for now.
Edited by TheSerialFlorist
02/05/2023 3:47 pm
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