Stamps and Marks on Money

I have been fascinated with symbols for most of my life. Between tattooing and doing artwork I am regularly exposed to symbols that I am curious about and want to find out the meaning of. I have been wondering about these for a long time. Recently it became my trivia question to ask people if they had seen them and if they knew what they were.

It turns out that most people have never noticed them.

I have my theory. I have heard some other people’s theories. If anyone out there has any idea what they are really…. please let me know. Internet searches have not turned up anything – but this is possibly because the keywords for stamps and currency (and everything else that I could think of) pointed to other more obvious places.

—————–

I had always figured they were a drug thing. I thought that some dealers stamped their product with logos and they were probably stamping their money as well just for giggles or maybe for tracking purposes… I don’t know.

One of my friends thinks that they are used by law enforcement to track money that they are giving to criminals to see where it winds up.

Someone suggested that they might be part of the Where’s George thing. I tried testing this theory by entering some of the bills into wheresgeorge.com and they were not listed as being in there.

So here are some of the ones that I have found recently. I am planning on scanning and adding more as I come across them. If you have any – please scan them and send them to me and I will add them here.


a couple more than I found this week:

a couple from June 2010:

this one also has a few:

a couple of more (July 2010)

and one that Jonas found in his travels:

New one July 2010…. a little piggie!!

July 27th, 2010 – the first kanji one that I have seen

This week I asked the folks at my bank about these – thinking they might be able to offer some insight. Every single one of them said that they had never seen them. I pointed out that the money they had just given me had one in it. Nope, none of them had ever noticed them before. They said that they would start to look for them and ask around to see if anyone else knew anything about them. Interestingly enough all of them did point out that it is illegal to mark money in any way (wasn’t clear on whether that was because they thought I might be contributing to the stamping).

I also spoke with a woman who collects currency and taught me a whole lot of other things to watch for on bills, but did not have any insight on the marks. I will keep looking and posting them here when I can.

Dylan found this one today (August 17th,2010) The first duplicate that we have come across:

Found this one at the tattoo convention this weekend: (ROC City)

A few more (Thank you Gretchen!!!)

and today (August 30th, 2010) : a very well marked $50 a fish (on the other end of the same $50) : and another duplicate. Personally I think this makes the foreign currency exchange mark less believable…. but as I have said before that may just be me.

Another one that Jonas found in his travles (Jonas has a particular affinity for Two dollar bills)

weird how some bills have so many – and so many bills have none. This one was found in November 2010


Linbar Change stamp on $50 bill

These two bills are not sequential but have apparently been traveling together. So did these bills both go all these places to get stamped? Or were all of the stamps applied in the same place? (Found by me on October 12, 2011)

marked Fifty dollar bills

 

~ by justteejay on May 11, 2010.

31 Responses to “Stamps and Marks on Money”

  1. teejay,

    here’s an answer for you from a bunch of coin collectors… they are chopmarks. for more info read this link:

    http://www.coinpeople.com/lofiversion/index.php/t8551.html

  2. Yay! Gretchen thank you so much!
    Very cool and much better than thinking it was drug dealers.

  3. now the fun really starts, follow chops!

    • aaah – more geekdom for me! I already enter the wheresgeorge bills that I find. Now I will be scanning and collecting these to see what I can find. Fascinating that most of the ones that the other post described look like kanji while the ones that I am finding are more of the picture variety. It will be interesting to collect them.
      Thank you again for solving the mystery.

  4. Another blog that I came across asking about them
    http://underdesign.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/funny-money-marks/

  5. and another that explains them as chop marks
    http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v11n36a10.html

  6. I work at a local casino and come across these all day, most often on $100’s. The slot machines won’t accept them due to the marks on the back. I take these bills out of casino circulation all the time.

  7. Just got some 100$ bills yesterday and i just happen to be counting them and saw on 3 of them that they were stamped each one with a different mark. I would like to scan them and post them on here will some one tell me how to post the images.

  8. My nephew is a numismatist and wanted to visit the Mint when he was here in north TX visiting this summer, so we packed up the whole family and went in. I wouldn’t’ve thought I’d find it so fascinating, but we were all pretty amazed by the cool things we learned and saw, not least of all where all of the symbols and design elements originated, how they evolved, and the incredible artistic process all American paper currency undergoes continually. I had NO idea! As an artist I was blown away by the old-school craftsmanship still used. I have a feeling you’d be greatly impressed by the stuff too, given *your* artistry and interest in the add-on art that becomes part of the stream of currency with these chops!

    • That does sound like it would be a wonderful experience. I think there is a mint in Philadelphia (?) not sure – I will have to go and look it up. Would be a great weekend trip. Thanks!

  9. […] The original post and many subsequent marks was posted here: Stamps and Marks on Money […]

  10. I have continued this thread on a new post which can be found here:
    https://justteejay.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/more-chops-stamps-and-marks-on-currency/

    TeeJay

  11. […] Stamps and Marks on Money […]

  12. My comment is on the last pic. It seems they show the least amount of circulation. I assume the receiving exchange stamped it once when then acquired it. Then it was sold to another exchange who stamped it again, before they sold it to the person who spent it in the united states.

  13. I have one bill with 9 small stamps on it. I’ve been looking everywhere for their meaning. let me know if you want a photo and I’ll send it!

  14. Are you still collecting?

    • I still take note of them and sometimes take photos of the neat ones – but I haven’t been posting them lately as my scanner isn’t working properly. If you have images you can send them and I will add them on here.

    • I’m still collecting. I have been away from the blog so I wasn’t posting. I have a bunch that have been emailed me – enough that I may need to start another post with them.

  15. i actually believe some of them come from check cashing places, i have a $50 with a few different marks on it

  16. I have one, I cant find it anywhere and there is no pictures of it anywhere, Nothing. I guess Im the only one thats ever found one of them? I dont know. But anyway, I should probably tell you what it is, its a 20$ bill, and the stamp on it is a blue tiger. The whole body including the face and its blue. Ive found some about a blue tiger eye, but thats all. its like the stamp i have doesnt exist or something lol or maybe its rare?

  17. I came across your blog seeking the same answers. I have a 20 dollar bill that has quite a few stamps on it. ( none of which I saw on your page.) it makes me want my own mini stamp. Lol. I did wonder though… some have hand written numbers on them, and my guess is it would be a way of marking an amount in a savings cache. The stamps have me stumped. I’m holding on to that twenty. I may just start a stamped bill savings cache! Lol

    • I was saving them for a little while and I started to find way too many to hold on to. That was when I had started taking pictures of them instead.

  18. I have also been noticing stamps and little hand written letters or symbols on the Australian $50 notes and also believe it to be possibly law enforcement trying to track where the money is going!? I have a few that have the same symbol stamped but numbers are the same, some with pencil initials and plenty others, but the most cool one has a perfect statue of liberty stamped on it! would love to show you if you want to send me your email.

    • I don’t have any answers for you, but I would love to see the photos that you have. My email is justteejay@gmail.com
      None of the law enforcement folks I have talked to here have used these type of stamps (or chop marks) to mark bills.

  19. I found a $20 that has (jL) symbol on it, and I cant see to find any evidence of where it might have come from.

  20. Google chop marks. That’s what they are.

  21. I have a very well marked 50 I am holding on too..maybe you have seen these marking the numbers don’t match up..you will see what I mean..how can I send a photo of it.

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