The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 39, September 25, 2022, Article 28


An article in the September 24, 2022 MPC Gram (Series 23 No. 2541) by Larry Smulczenski discusses altered North Africa silver certificates. It is republished here with permission. Thanks! -Editor

  North Africa $10 note

An Altered North Africa Note

Just like the Hawaii notes that were issued after the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in case a ground attack followed and U.S. currency needed to be declared invalid should it fall into the hands of the invaders, a similar issue of silver certificates was issued for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. These notes were also used for the invasion of Sicily. The only identifying feature of these notes was that the blue seal of a silver certificate was changed to a yellow seal. As is common in any conflict on foreign shores that involve American troops, U.S. currency finds its way into the local economy.

When it became known that the North Africa notes could possibly be demonetized at any time, either during or after the conflict, some of the local holders became concerned that they could be left with worthless notes. Someone came up with the scheme to convert the North Africa ten dollar note to a current Federal Reserve note. This involved changing the seal from yellow to green, the serial numbers from blue to green, replacing the large blue 10 with the black New York Federal Reserve seal, changing the position of the legal tender clause and adding the New York district numbers in the four corners of the note. No attempt was made to change the "Silver Certificate" title at the top of the note.

  North Africa $10 Altered reverse N

An error was made in the development of the New York seal where the N of New York has the diagonal line printed from upper right to lower left instead of the correct upper left to lower right orientation. This seems like a stupid mistake for a craftsman to make who did such good work on the rest of the alteration. Remember, however, that there are countries across the Adriatic Sea that use the Cyrillic alphabet and people do migrate. It could be that the designer of the alteration had a Cyrillic background and in a senior moment reverted to the Cyrillic alphabet where there is a letter that looks exactly like the backwards N. I have never heard that argument before, but I believe it has merit. If you have an opinion, I would like to hear it.

I bought one of these notes at a Memphis Paper Money Show many, many years ago. I remember walking around and showing it off like a proud Papa showing a picture of his new offspring to anyone who would take the time to look and listen. It generated a lot of looks but one person who exhibited keen interest in the note and the subject of the North Africa notes, was a fellow by the name of Bill Doovas.

Fred [Schwan] and I went to a lecture, the subject of which I do not remember, but Bill went with us. Before he went to the lecture, Bill bought a North Africa $10 note on the bourse floor. While Fred and I sat there and paid attention to the presentation, Bill sat over to the side and rubbed on that North Africa note with a plain yellow wooden pencil with a red rubber eraser on top. The lecture lasted 30 or 40 minute. During that time Bill had erased the blue serial numbers, the large blue 10 and legal tender clause on the left and 90% of the yellow seal on the right. He wanted to prove that the ink on the North Africa note could be removed without damaging the note.

  North Africa $10 comparion notes

I can tell you there were no scratches on the note, no thin spots, and other then a trace of yellow, no remaining colors of the removed parts. I am not saving this is the way it was done, but I will say that Bill proved that the ink would come off and the alteration could be made. Bill then offered me that note that he worked on for the amount that he paid for it and I gladly bought it from him. As I remember it was only $20. You can see it at the bottom of this page. Pictured are a North Africa note, the Doovis erasure, the altered North Africa note and a New York Treasury note for comparison.

The MPC Gram is an email newsletter for collectors of Military Payment Certificates and other military numismatica. To subscribe to the MPC Gram, see: . -Editor

Archives International Sale 79b cover front

Wayne Homren, Editor

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