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1934A $5 FRN

San Francisco LFP #52

Five-dollar San Francisco Series of 1934A face 52 is one of four late-finished Series of 1934A Federal Reserve Note (FRN) face plates. It originally was a 1934 master face plate that in 1938 the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) altered to a 1934A master face plate to use as a template for making other 1934A faces. They finished face 52 in 1944 as a production face and used it for regular sheet printings. 


The process of making intaglio printing plates involved masters, bassos and altos. Masters served as templates for producing altos, which were intermediaries lifted from masters, and had designs in relief as opposed to the incuse designs on masters. Bassos were plates lifted from altos after depositing metal onto them, and were exact replicas of the master plates used to make the altos. Most bassos were cleaned, polished, etched with plate serials and logged into the plate vault for use as production plates. Some instead were reserved as master plates.

$5 1934A San Francisco Plate #52 Proof

Image courtesy of Jamie Yakes

The BEP began face 52 as $5 San Francisco Series of 1934 face plate 2 on November 15, 1934. They produced it from alto 1199, which had been lifted from steel intaglio master face plate 1 on November 8. They designated face 2 the electrolytic master basso and used it to prepare five altos from November 21 to December 4, and four more in late 1935 and early 1936. Altos from faces 1 and 2 would serve to produce all 1934 $5 San Francisco production faces. 


In January 1938, the BEP began etching macro serial numbers on finished face and back plates and designated those faces Series of 1934A. On June 10, 1938, they altered face 2 to a 1934A by etching an “A” after each “SERIES OF 1934” located on all 12 subjects. They reassigned it plate serial 52, which was the first serial for $5 1934A San Francisco faces, and designated it the 1934A master basso. Aside from the different sizes of plate serials, bassos destined to become 1934s or 1934As had identical designs, and conveniently nothing else needed to be altered, deleted, or added in the process.


In July 1938, the BEP lifted four altos from 52, which spawned all 1934A San Francisco production faces made through June 1945, inclusive of serials 53-146. The BEP had produced a new $5 San Francisco steel master face plate (face 129) in June 1944 and a new electrolytic basso (face 138) in October, but never used altos produced from them to make production bassos. (Face 138 had been lifted from an alto produced from face 129).


The BEP certified San Francisco face 52 as a production plate on November 7, 1944, and added it to the routine press plate rotation. They sent it to press for two short press runs in November and December 1944, a four-week run in April and May 1945, and a final eight-week run from November 1945 to January 1946. It was used alongside 1934A faces 80-114. The BEP dropped face 52 from press on January 23, 1946, a month before they began using Series of 1934B $5 San Francisco faces. They canceled it on December 31, 1946.  


Face 52 notes will have L-A serials above 70 million and possibly L-B serials. This is based on observations of 1934A notes with plate serials used concurrently with face 52. Overprinting of Hawaii brown seals and serial numbers ended prior to June 30, 1944, so all notes will have green seals and serial numbers. 


The L-A and L-B blocks contain reported 1934A back plate 637 mules. Back 637 was a $5 master basso for 10 years until finished as a production plate on November 10, 1944, with micro serial numbers. It had numerous press runs between June 23, 1945, and June 14, 1949, and sheets wound their way to face printings for $5 legal tender notes, silver certificates and FRNs. The BEP had been using back 637 prior to the final press run for face 52 and sheet stock would have been available to mate with that face. 

By Jamie Yakes

1934A $5 San Francisco LFP #52

***Recently discovered and currently the only known San Francisco non-Star LFP #52***

Image courtesy of Derek Higgins


1934A $5 San Francisco Star LFP #52

***Currently the only known San Francisco Star LFP #52***

Courtesy of Derek Higgins

Related SPMC "Paper Money"Journal Articles

"Discovered!—$5 San Francisco LF Face 52 Star" (requires SPMC membership)

Jan/Feb 2023 - Whole #343; pgs 74; Jamie Yakes


"$5 San Francisco Late-Finished Face 52" (requires SPMC membership)

Jan/Feb 2022 - Whole #337; pgs 72-73; Jamie Yakes

"Altered 1934A $5 & $10 FRN Master Plates"

Jan/Feb 2017 - Whole #307; pgs 54-56; Jamie Yakes

"Series of 1934A Late-Finished $5 and $10 FRNs"

Jan/Feb 2016 - Whole #301; pgs 42-43; Jamie Yakes

Other articles covering Late-Finished Plates

The Census Report

Updated 03/04/2024

1 New Note

Notes Included:

1934A San Francisco LFP #52

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