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Weg
I believe they're like test notes for approval. At CPMX I saw some Philippine Specimen notes but not knowing much about them I moved on. Are some rare while others are common?
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Wizard1
Specimen notes are basically 'specimens' for financial institutions or entities that deal with large volumes of cash on a daily basis. They are mainly produced when a new series or note (such as the upcoming $100 USD note) is about to enter circulation. This allows workers to examine and understand what special security features or other aspects of the notes that might help them to process the notes and recognize them as legitmate, when the notes actually begin circulating.

I recently mentioned about a 1937 Specimen note from Canada in Cinch's thread talking about recent ebay finds. Yes there are some that are rarer than others, but this is completely determined by the number that were released by associated printers. In regards to the note that I posted there were two types/prefix groups released one being quite rare while the other was more plentiful (relatively speaking). The more common version had 39 notes released while the rarer one had only 8 released.

Hope this helps.
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MoneyMonkey
Wow, what a broad question! Specimens were made (and are still made) for all sorts of reasons, and range from Unique to very common.
Fractional Currency specimens were sold to the public in sets.
Specimens can be found in books (albums) prepared by bank note companies, for presentation or for salesmen to show to prospective buyers.
They can be made to test plates, papers, presses, etc., and are occasionally found in the estates of engravers or other Treasury officials.
They can be made for foreign governments.
They can be made for presentation (i.e. the Fractional Currency presentation books of 1866).
Today Federal Reserve Banks, the Smithsonian Institution, and other government agencies can order specimens from the Treasury for display or other purposes.
The list goes on...
And this doesn't even touch on the question of what a "specimen" is vs a "proof" (the dividing line is rather fuzzy)!
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HistoryMajor


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Fractional Currency specimens were sold to the public in sets.



What was the purpose for this? To introduce the public to fractionals? How many of these sets were sold?
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cinch
Fractionals were produced as a collectible item because the public showed a fascination when they first were produced. You can find the array of issues in fractional currency shields. (I'm sure someone here can add to this, I only have a passing knowledge of the subject.)

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Weg
Apparently there is a lot more to or about them than I thought; and then MoneyMonkey mentioned proofs. I was probably thinking about proofs when I thought they were made for approval. Knowing so little, I'm glad I didn't buy the specimen notes I saw at the show. Any more input would be appreciated. thanks guys.
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SaorAlba
These days they are more created for collectors than actual banking institutions, government agencies etc. Early specimens were essentially samples of the notes mainly used for authentication purposes.
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MoneyMonkey


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Fractional Currency specimens were sold to the public in sets.



What was the purpose for this? To introduce the public to fractionals? How many of these sets were sold?



Part of the reason for Specimen sets (and Shields) was the public fascination with the series, but there was another angle, which we still see today.
I sold a letter written by Treasurer F.E. Spinner last year in which he stated that the third issue red backs were meant to be saved by the public as souvenirs and thus aid the Treasury! The specimen sets, regular issue sets, and shields were no doubt sold at least in part for the same reason - to generate funds for the treasury. One only has to look at the Treasury's web site to see the incredible number of sheets, low number sets, and proof sets and mint sets available to realize this is a big, profitable business.
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Weg
I'm getting a fair picture on specimens, thanks.
It was said or something close to, there is a fine gray line between proofs and specimens. I'm thinking there is a big difference in the purpose of coin proofs and currency proofs. It's almost like specimens are to currency collectors as proofs are to coin collectors. If so, then proof currency serves a different purpose; correct?
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Wizard1


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I'm getting a fair picture on specimens, thanks.
It was said or something close to, there is a fine gray line between proofs and specimens. I'm thinking there is a big difference in the purpose of coin proofs and currency proofs. It's almost like specimens are to currency collectors as proofs are to coin collectors. If so, then proof currency serves a different purpose; correct?




You also have to realize that specimens aren't mass produced for the general public/collectors as proofs are to coin collectors. At least Canadian ones aren't. ALL the Canadian specimens that currently exist in the wild originated from the only public sale EVER by the Bank of Canada in November of 1999. This sale was to clear out whatever they wanted to get rid of, while the remaining/significant material resides in the Bank of Canada Currency Museum.

While proofs are mass produced in Coin sets for collectors.

Also (also speaking based on my knowledge of Canadian notes) Proofs basically only exist as front and back proofs while Specimens are always printed on both sides.
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Weg
You're saying that Canadian proofs are printed on one side only either front or back? Is this true for U.S. proofs too?
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Berny
Although the line between proofs and specimen notes is somewhat fuzzy, let me try to give you my short definition of the difference.

A proof note is typically printed on thin India paper and on one side only. There are single sided back proofs. Generally they were printed to make sure that the plates were engraved correctly, to make sure that they would produce a good print, and to show to the bank clients. Only a few were typically printed and the copies tended to stay with the bank note company for in-house use.

Specimen notes on the other hand were printed on regular bond paper and on both sides. That is, they were essentially the same as issued notes except that they usually have "SPECIMEN" either printed on or punched into the paper so that they could not be used for circulation. Typically specimen notes were printed in larger quantities than proofs since they were actually sent to the banks so that they could tell real ones from fakes, etc.

The above is simplified. If you want to learn more, a search on this forum or at Greg Davis' Borkenbanknotes.com forum will yield much information. Greg and I also gave a 1 hour talk at the 2010 Memphis show that is available online at Coinvideo for a mere $25. Neither Greg or I make any money from this CD.

If you have more specific questions, ask and I will try to answer.
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Wizard1


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You're saying that Canadian proofs are printed on one side only either front or back? Is this true for U.S. proofs too?




Yes for Canadian proofs you either have a front or back proof. I've never seen modern U.S proofs, but obsolete bank proofs can either be front or back or both (missing the signatures) [correct me if im wrong people b/c I mainly specialize in Canadian notes and only started U.S notes recently]
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HistoryMajor


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Part of the reason for Specimen sets (and Shields) was the public fascination with the series, but there was another angle, which we still see today. I sold a letter written by Treasurer F.E. Spinner last year in which he stated that the third issue red backs were meant to be saved by the public as souvenirs and thus aid the Treasury! The specimen sets, regular issue sets, and shields were no doubt sold at least in part for the same reason - to generate funds for the treasury. One only has to look at the Treasury's web site to see the incredible number of sheets, low number sets, and proof sets and mint sets available to realize this is a big, profitable business.



Interesting!! They were planning on making money off the collecting community even back then. I wonder how many were actually saved in such a way?
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SaorAlba


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You're saying that Canadian proofs are printed on one side only either front or back? Is this true for U.S. proofs too?




Yes for Canadian proofs you either have a front or back proof. I've never seen modern U.S proofs, but obsolete bank proofs can either be front or back or both (missing the signatures) [correct me if im wrong people b/c I mainly specialize in Canadian notes and only started U.S notes recently]




And actually for most ABNCo printed and then their successor companies like CBNCo did that. With quite a few of the earlier Charter notes they exist more in proof form with front and back prints but are very scarce in issued form.
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dtreter
To make things even muddier, some specimens can be unifaced and printed only on one side (at least with fractionals). Shown below is a wide margin specimen, not a proof.





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SMC
Let's really muddy the waters here. How about those pesky fractional currency "experimentals" from the second to fifth issues?
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Weg
I'm getting to appreciate mud. Currency is just fascinating; I love the variety. It's been tough staying focused trying to finish a complete variety set of one type but it's turning into a good thing by giving me time to learn more. I can't believe there's a crash course for all of this.

Edit: Just thinking, Since some specimens are overstamped "SPECIMEN" have these been faked?

I doubt proofs were needed for Emergency notes but I'd think specimens would have been printed. Does anyone know of any N. Africa or Hawaii specimens?
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MoneyMonkey


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Let's really muddy the waters here. How about those pesky fractional currency "experimentals" from the second to fifth issues?



For those not into the series, the fractional currency "Experimental Pieces" were primarily the result of test conducted by Spencer M. Clark, who was head of the National Currency Bureau (before it became the Bureau of Engraving and Printing). He hired a chemist/inventor named Stuart Gwynne, and they conducted endless tests of ink, bronzing material, paper, and presses in the early days. They used plates for rejected designs, paper that was never officially used, left-over remnants of test printings for other series, producing an incredible series of strange notes. Most range from unique to very rare, but there is a core of a dozen or so varieties that are easily obtainable. A very few are traceable directly to Clark, whose "collection" was sold by Edouard Frossard at fixed prices in October 1893. It was Clark's putting his own likeness on the third issue 5 cent note that resulted in the law banning the likeness of living persons on currency.
The Congressional investigation of after hours shenanigans at the Treasury makes fascinating (if not entirely truthful) reading!
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dtreter


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Edit: Just thinking, Since some specimens are overstamped "SPECIMEN" have these been faked?




Yes, some of the fractional specimens/experimentals have been counterfeited. Below are examples from the 2nd issue that are spurious. These are one of six known pairs. Notice the inverted and faked surcharges




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cinch
Here's one of my one-sided fractional specimens:






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sellitstore
He hired a chemist/inventor named Stuart Gwynne, and they conducted endless tests of ink, bronzing material, paper, and presses in the early days. They used plates for rejected designs, paper that was never officially used, left-over remnants of test printings for other series, producing an incredible series of strange notes. Most range from unique to very rare, but there is a core of a dozen or so varieties that are easily obtainable.

So, these are actually essays, a term not yet introduced in this thread. "Essays" are the patterns of paper money-the designs that never were. "Color Trials" are adopted designs in colors never issued-sort of the off metal strikes of currency.

Many of the fractional currency "specimens" are really proofs. "Specimen" was a term used for proofs in the 19th century. Some early 19th century obsolete currency proofs can be found with the word "Specimen" handwritten in the signature spaces.
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xxJOExx

**Old thread revival warning**

 

I have a couple of technical questions regarding the production of FRN specimen notes.  A number of earlier posts here explain the purposes for producing specimen notes such as these:

 

wrote:
Specimen notes are basically 'specimens' for financial institutions or entities that deal with large volumes of cash on a daily basis. They are mainly produced when a new series or note (such as the upcoming $100 USD note) is about to enter circulation. This allows workers to examine and understand what special security features or other aspects of the notes that might help them to process the notes and recognize them as legitmate, when the notes actually begin circulating.

 

wrote:
Wow, what a broad question! Specimens were made (and are still made) for all sorts of reasons, and range from Unique to very common.

Fractional Currency specimens were sold to the public in sets.

Specimens can be found in books (albums) prepared by bank note companies, for presentation or for salesmen to show to prospective buyers.

They can be made to test plates, papers, presses, etc., and are occasionally found in the estates of engravers or other Treasury officials.

They can be made for foreign governments.

They can be made for presentation (i.e. the Fractional Currency presentation books of 1866).

Today Federal Reserve Banks, the Smithsonian Institution, and other government agencies can order specimens from the Treasury for display or other purposes.

The list goes on...

And this doesn't even touch on the question of what a "specimen" is vs a "proof" (the dividing line is rather fuzzy)!

 

wrote:
Specimennotes on the other hand were printed on regular bond paper and on both sides. That is, they were essentially the same as issued notes except that they usually have "SPECIMEN" either printed on or punched into the paper so that they could not be used for circulation. Typically specimen notes were printed in larger quantities than proofs since they were actually sent to the banks so that they could tell real ones from fakes, etc.

 

The six 1977 FRN specimen notes pictured below have sold on Heritage at one time or another:

 

[lihflx2vbk7rvmot0pwv8yvspybqiylo] 

[zm2zw315ih0m0e5vugpg1s30zmpvl211] 

 

My questions are:

  • As the above six specimen notes all have the same serial regardless of plate position, is it safe to conclude that all 32 positions on the sheet were overprinted with the same serial?
  • Are/were specimen notes produced exclusively priorto the introduction of a new series? Or do they continue to be produced for a given series even afterregular production of that series has been underway for a time?
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synchr
Is the Specimen Printing a complete different pass through the press?
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