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What Is and Is Not a Star Replacement Note?

What Is A Star Replacement Note?

Here is a tip from week 1, day 1, hour 1, of the basics of currency collecting.  If the note you are looking at has a star in the serial number then it is rarer than the same note without a star in the serial number.  This rule only applies to star notes that were issued as replacements for other bank notes that were damaged during the printing process and destroyed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  This seems like an easy rule, but it can get a little bit tricky.  Some notes were issued without letters in the serial number.  Sometimes the star is at the beginning or at the end of the serial number.  Sometimes the star is hollow, and sometimes it is solid.  What does all this mean?  Look at the picture below for some real world examples:

Serial Numbers Without Letters:
Most bank notes have a serial number that either begins or ends with a serial number.  However, some notes were issued without numbers.  They have characters instead of numbers.  Lots of different characters were used.  The type of character never affects the value.  It is really just a place holder to keep people from altering serial numbers.
serial-number-no-letters

Serial Numbers With A Solid Star:
Most bank notes dated as 1869 have a star symbol in the serial number.  The same rule applies to treasury notes from 1890 and 1891.  This star was simply used like any other character.  These were issued before the concept of “replacements” even existed.  You can tell if the star is just another character if it is solid (without a hole in the center).  Again, there is no premium for solid stars.
solid-star-serial-number

Serial Numbers With A Hollow Star:
Replacement stars were first used in 1910.  However, based on the way some currency was printed, some bank notes dated as 1880 were still being released into circulation past 1910.  So you can find a hollow replacement star on notes dated as old as 1880.  Some have stars are at the beginning of the serial number, and others are at the end.  We are still using the same hollow star symbol today to show that the bank note replaced another one that was damaged during the printing process.
hollow-star-serial-number

Star Symbols As Part Of The Design:
Some bank notes have a design that includes a star.  The biggest offender is the modern $50 bill.  The star is very close to the serial number and it has confused a lot of people.  The star has to be hollow, and it has to replace the first or last character of a serial number in order to add any value to the bank note.
star-in-design

What Is A Star Note Worth?
The short answer is that it just depends.  Some star notes are very valuable.  Most star notes issued since 1935 are still relatively common.  Contact us for details.  Sales@AntiqueMoney.com