BANANA STICKER MAKES BILL ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS ERROR NOTES IN HISTORY
Few pieces of paper money are as notorious as the Del Monte Note.
The misprinted $20 bill has been featured on CNN, and Del Monte has used it in their advertisements. It even has its own Wikipedia entry, which dutifully notes the bill “was discovered by a college student in Ohio who received it from an ATM.” It was auctioned on eBay in 2004 for $10,100. Two years later, it auctioned for $25,300.
Both sales generated worldwide press. And why not? It’s one of the most peculiar collectibles on the market – a 1996 bill printed with a red, green and yellow Del Monte sticker next to Andrew Jackson’s portrait. It originated at a U.S. Treasury facility in Fort Worth, but how the fruit tag found its way onto the paper is unknown.
PCGS Currency has authenticated the error as genuine and not somehow faked outside the printing plant. Currency, the authentication service notes, goes through three printing stages: first, the back is printed, then the face, and then the bill receives serial number and Treasury seal stamps.
In the case of the Del Monte Note, the seal and serial number are printed on top of the sticker, meaning the fruit tag must have found its way onto the bill midway through the production process.
A Treasury employee losing track of his banana during a break? Who knows?
“This note has been central to nearly every conversation about the world’s greatest banknote errors since we last offered it in 2006,” says Dustin Johnston, vice president of currency auctions at Heritage Auctions. “It’s simply one of the most unusual and colorful error notes in the hobby.”
This article appears in the Winter 2020-2021 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.