Banknotes and Special Serial Numbers

The serial numbers were used on banknotes to estimate the number of pieces printed in each series/batch. For a Notaphilist (banknote collector) the serial numbers are very special as some of them worth much more than the face value and some rare ones could worth hundreds of thousands dollars. Some of them are,  Radar serial banknotes, Specimen Banknotes, Binary Serial Numbers, Ladder Serial Numbers, Replacement banknotes, Million Serial Numbers, Birthday Serial Number, Birth Year Serial Number, Rotator Serial Numbers, Low Serial Numbers, Cycle repeaters or repeaters etc. Here is a list of most commonly sought special serial numbers;

Radar Serial Numbers

If the serial number of a note reads the same backwards and forwards it called as a Radar banknote, Mirror serial or Palindrome. There are 4 types of Radar versions,

     One Digit Radar (Solid Serial or Single Digit Repeater) – The Serial will have only 1 digit and it repeats. Only 9 notes for a specific prefix if 10 Million consecutive notes were produced.

Solid Serial, 1 digit radar, 1 digit repeater

     Two Digits Radar  – The serial number will have a combination of 2 digits only and it reads same backwards and forwards.

2 digit Radar

     Two Digits Radar Serial Example 2

     Two Digits Radar Serial Example 3

2 digit Radar

     Three Digits Radar –  The serial number will have a combination of 3 digits and it reads same from left to right or right to left.

     Four Digits Radar – The serial number will have a combination of 4 digits and it reads same backwards and forwards.

Ascending/Descending Ladder Radar – This a 4 digit radar but the first and last 3 digits will be same and the 4 digit will be a continuation to of the series in Ascending/Descending or Descending/Ascending order.

     Ascending/Descending Ladder Radar Example

     Descending/Ascending Ladder Radar Example

Specimen Banknotes

Specimen banknotes are rare to find as they print in limited quantities and never meant for circulation.  These banknotes can be easily identified as they should be punched or overprinted with  SPECIMEN, CANCELLED or SPECIMEN NO VALUE tags.  The Specimen banknotes are printed and distributed other country central banks or financial institutions to train or identify when a new design of banknotes released. These special banknotes usually printed with unique and noticeable serial numbers such as all zeros, all 9’s or 1234567890 etc.  Mostly the specimen banknotes printed with a special control number to track and identify the bank\institution where its delivered.

Specimen Serial banknote

Replacement banknotes 

Replacement banknotes are also know as star notes. The replacement banknotes are printed specifically to replace those are spoiled/damaged during the printing process to keep the same number of notes in each serial or production batch. since no two banknote serial numbers can be the same, the damaged banknotes reprinted with a * symbol in the serial number or with a “X” in the in the 3rd position of a three letter prefix in modern banknotes.  The replacement bills also called as “insert notes” and they are also rare to find as they produced in low volumes.

BRX replacement

Binary Serial Number

As the name suggests the binary serial numbers are very easy to identify as they consist only of the numbers one and zero. Any combination of ones and zero are considered as binary serial.

Binary serial number banknote

Birth Year Serial Number

Also knows as birthday serial numbers. If the last 4 digits of the banknote serial reads as a year (usually from 1900 and its depends on the collector) and first 3 digits represent a combination of a calendar date and a month (dd/mm/yyyy), –  it’s called a birth year or birth day serial banknote. To qualify for a birthday banknote, the serial number should start with zero, one, two or three. In some countries (mm/dd/yyyy) also considered as a birth day serial.

BIRTH YEAR banknote serial

Million Serial Number

If the banknote serial number has 6 zeros preceded by any number from 1 to 9, its called as a million numbered banknote. It also a rare find as only 9 notes will be available in a specific prefix if 10 million consecutive notes (for a 7-digit serial banknote series) were produced.

Million serial banknote

Ten Million Serial Number

Same like the Million serial banknote, if serial number has 7 zeros preceded by any number from 1 to 9, it’s a Ten Million Serial Numbered banknote. No ten million Canadian banknotes are printed after 1967. The rarest one is the 1935 $1, which has only 4 of them   and in 1967 only 13 of the million serial banknotes are printed. The Canadian Ten Million banknotes are produced by punching the last zero manually to a Million Dollar serial banknote!

Ten Million Serial Number Note

Ladder Serial Numbers

Ladder serial banknotes are very rare and carries very high premium. A serial number that have 7 consecutive digits is called a Ladder serial. There are 2 types ladders,

     Ascending Ladder  – The numbers are in ascending order,  ascending Ladder  combinations are 0123456, 1234567, 2345678, 3456789, 4567890

Ascending Ladder serial

     Descending Ladder – The numbers are in descending order, descending ladder combinations are 0987654, 9876543, 8765432, 7654321, 6543210

Descending Ladder Serial

Low Serial Numbers 

Any serial number under 1000 is called as low serial number notes. “Ultra Low Serial numbers” (0000001 to 0000009) are having high premiums and as the number goes up the value goes down.

Low Serial Number bills

Rotator Serial Number

If a serial number reads same when you hold the banknote  upside down ,  It’s a “rotator serial number”. The only digits can be in a rotator serial are 0,6, 8 & 9 and the 4th digit should be an Eight or Zero. The possibility of rotator serials is only 127 in a series of 10 million banknotes printed. Some collectors accepted 1 also in a rotator, but not accepted by any grading companies.

Rotator Serial Number banknote

Cycle Repeater or Repeater Numbers

Cycle repeater serial number banknotes have a repetition of the same number(s).  There are 4 types repeater notes;

     Single Digit Repeater – this is also known as Solid Serial, all the digits in the serial are same.

Solid Serial, 1 digit radar, 1 digit repeater

     2 Digit Repeater – The serial number will have only 2 digits and it repeats, like XYXYXYX, all two digit cycle repeaters are 2 digit radars. There can be only 90 two digit repeater banknotes in a series of 10 million.

2 digit Radar & cYCLE REPEATER

     3 Digit Repeater – The serial number will be in the form of XYZXYZX, and will have only 3 or less unique digits. The possibility of three digit repeater in a series of ten million banknotes are only 990.

3 digit Repeater

     4 Digit Repeater – The serial number will have a maximum of 4 unique digits and its repeats like WXYZWXY. The four digit cycle repeater notes are much more common than others because there can be 9900 4 digit cycle repeaters in a series of ten minion banknotes.



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