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1928-1928A $2 Legal Tender

No Back Plate #

The first Series of 1928 $2 Legal Tender notes were delivered to the BEP (Bureau of Engraving and Printing) vault on April 24, 1929.  The face design included a portrait of Thomas Jefferson and the reverse design features a vignette of Monticello, Jefferson's home in Virginia from 1770 until he died in 1826.  Like all other notes printed by the BEP, each side of the $2 Legal Tender sheets was printed by a production plate in which a unique plate serial was engraved.  The plate serial number was used to identify the production plate that printed the note and was tracked within the BEP ledgers when it was sent to press, removed from press, and other times.  Each production plate was thoroughly inspected before being finished to ensure that it was free from defects.  


Regardless of type or denomination, the front plate (FP) serial number was engraved on the face in the lower right corner, just inside the border design.  Similarly, the backplate (BP) serial number was engraved on the reverse in the lower right part of the note, although the exact location varied by denomination.  For two-dollar backs, the BP serial number was engraved to the right of the vignette, just below the middle-most ornate design element along the right side. 


Until late 1937, the size of the plate serial numbers was very small and could be difficult to read once a note had moderately circulated.  These are referred to as micro-size plate serial numbers and were used on series of 1928, 1928A, and 1928B two-dollar faces and two-dollar back plates #1 through #288, as shown below (at left).  At arm's length, some single-digit plate serial numbers on $2 backs, specifically BP #1 and #4, were engraved so close to the edge of the design elements that they appear to blend into it.  

At some point during 1929, at least one two-dollar back plate without a plate serial number was sent to press.  It is unclear what caused this to happen, but the result was two-dollar sheets being printed without back plate serial numbers, as shown in the image below (at right).  

$2 Legal Tender Back with Micro BP #25

$2 Legal Tender Back with No BP # Error

It is possible that a two-dollar back production plate was finished without a back plate serial number engraved, but how it was missed upon initial inspection makes this seem unlikely.  Also, how it was missed when sheets were inspected after printing creates even more doubt.  There are other scenarios as to how this curious error came to be, but how it came to be and how it went unnoticed by the BEP is still a mystery. 

This error was first noticed by collectors sometime during the 1970s. It has since been found on the Series of 1928 regular and Star (replacement) notes and one confirmed example was discovered from the Series of 1928A.  Most known examples are in uncirculated condition, although a handful of circulated notes are also known.  All Series of 1928 error notes confirmed or credibly reported were delivered to the BEP vault over ten months from July 1929 to April 1930.  While some isolated serial numbers are known, most came from three different runs, delivered to the BEP vault in September & December 1929 and January 1930.  A breakdown of confirmed and credibly reported serial numbers and the dates they were delivered to the BEP vault can be found below:

Series of 1928

A19 654 169A = July 8, 1929

A21 461 137A = July 17, 1929

A22 158 973A = August 2, 1929

A27 132 xxxA run = September 24, 1929

A35 395 xxxA run = December 2, 1929

A35 843 708A = December 5, 1929

A37 262 989A = December 10, 1929

A39 023 40x run = January 29, 1930

A46 594 739A = April 30, 1930

All regular Series of 1928 notes on the census without a back plate number came from all six plate positions (PP) on the left side of a 12-subject sheet (A-F), except two isolated serial numbers from plate position G (upper right corner).  Of the three Star (replacement) notes on the census, two are from plate positions K & L on the right side of the sheet.  No error notes from plate positions H, I, & J are currently known.  

Series of 1928A

A61 979 969A = May 29, 1931

The sole reported Series of 1928A example stands out as it was serial numbered and delivered to the BEP vault 13 months after the highest known Series of 1928 example.

It is advised to examine two-dollar No Back Plate # notes carefully to verify the authenticity of the error and avoid notes in which the backplate number could have been erased or chemically removed.  

1928 $2 LT No Back Plate # Error - Micro FP #42, No BP #

Related SPMC "Paper Money" Journal Articles

"Deuces Wild!" (requires SPMC membership)

March/April 2020 - Whole #326; pgs 148-149; Robert Calderman (Cherry Picker's Corner)

The Census Report

New - 02/28/2024

37 Notes Added

Notes Included:

1928-1928A No BP#

Notes Not Included:

1928-1928A with BP#s (common)

Current Census Population

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