Papermoney Dictionary


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$ — The Dollar Sign, qv. Various theories exist for the origin of this symbol. When I was a very young stamp collector I thought I had it all figured out: the $ had emerged from superimposing an S over a somewhat taller U, this from observing the monogram on early US stamps. In any case, $ had been widely used long before it was adopted for the United States dollar in 1785.

saddle blanket — Or, horseblanket. Nickname for Large Size USA papermoney.

Safe Conduct Pass — A sub-species of propaganda notes, qv, air-dropped behind enemy lines, promising safe conduct to any surrendering traitors. A fringe collecting area of syngraphics.

safety paper — See: security paper.

sans serif — Without serifs. A printer's or typesetter's term refer-ring to a style of type without serifs, qv. Most of this book is set in a serif typeface, ie, a typeface that contains serifs. This sentence is set in a sans serif type style. See also serif for comparison and clarification.

satirical notes(s) — See: political note.

scarce — Uncommon, but definitely not rare. Difficult to obtain by a collector; seldom encountered. The scarcity could be artificial, ie, due to hoarding. Or, due to dealers reluctance to handle an item, due to its diminutive popularity. In general, the size (printing or mintage) is not a major factor, as small issues usually find their way into hoards which are cumulatively larger than the collector market. Something to do with the herd mentality of investors, I reckon.

scotch tape (on notes) — A syngraphist's worst nightmare. Rumor has it that carbontetrachloride (available in any stamp store for rendering watermarks more easily visible) will dissolve tape residue. Caveat lector!

SCWPM — Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. See: Pick catalog.

scrip — Non-legal tender substitute for money, redeemable in merchandise or services, and sometimes even convertible into legal tender. Samples include POW Scrip, authorized by a national government, Depression Scrip, issued by municipal institutions as well as by private businesses, etc.

seal(s) — Seals on notes can be embossed, printed as part of the background design, or printed in a secondary printing in a different color. Seals used to be one of the primary security devices on early notes. Embossed seals were phased out relatively early, as they tended to disappear (flatten out) with normal wear. And, printed seals became less and less challenging to counterfeiters. Nowdays, while most issues contain at least one obligatory seal, their functions are mostly only informative and decorative.

sealskin money — Private scrip "notes", with crude designs, produced from skin or parchment by a Russian fur trading company in Alaska circa 1818-1830. All are extremely rare (=expensive), thanks to overkill publicity in the trade press. Considering the ease of possible reproduction, would an authenticator need a degree in Leatherology?

secret marks — Ah, the games engravers can play! Many stamps and notes contain secret marks, some even to foil counterfeiters.

security device(s) — Anything and everything attempted to foil counterfeiting: Special papers, special inks, watermarks, signatures, serial numbers, colors, etc, not to mention all the high tech things being experimented with.

security paper — Any paper produced to foil counterfeiting. Aka safety paper.

selvage — 99% of all postal clerks do not know that the unprinted paper around panes (sheets) of stamps, which they tear off all day long, is called selvage. If you've ever cut apart broken bank note sheets, you know that the term is easily transferable to papermonies.

serial letter(s) — Part of a serial number, qv.

serial number — See Table, after number.

serial numerals — See Table, after number.

series — All the variations of design and value of a particular issue. See also: set.

series number — A number, letter, or combination thereof which identifies a particular edition of a note issue. Often changed when only a minor change is made to the note, eg, to the signature combination and/or date. See also: minor and major varieties.

serif — A printer's or typesetter's term referring to one of the fine lines of a letter. Most of this book is set in a serif typeface, ie, a typeface that contains serifs. See also sans-serif for a comparison and clarification. As a general rule, serif typefaces make it easier to read things longer than a few paragraphs. Something to do with ergonomics, specifically that the eye seems to suffer less fatigue when reading serif type. See also: font.

set (philatelic) — A unit of stamps with a common design or theme issued, either simultaneously or over a period of time, for a common purpose.

set (numismatic) — A group of coins, such as a proof set, year set, a mint set, a type set, etc. Curiously enough, also used for a group of coins of identical design, such as a Franklin Halves Set.

set (syngraphic) — A group of notes, such as a Specimen set, a year set, a type set, etc.

se-tenant — In stamps, an attached pair, strip or block of stamps that differ in design, value or overprint. In notes, many "broken bank" issues, for just one example, were printed in se-tenant sheets.

shilling — A monetary unit of Great Britain. One pound contained 20 shillings (until decimalization in 1971), and one shilling contained 12 pence. [Thus, 1 = 20/- = 240d, and 10/- = 120d, etc. For example, 3/2/6 reads 3 pounds, 2 shillings, sixpence.]

shinplaster(s) — Nickname for Canadian fractional currency notes. Also, any worthless moneys. The term originated when American soldiers stuffed worthless Continental notes into their boots for warmth during the American Revolution.

short set — A set of stamps, etc, consisting only of some of the lower denominations of the given set. A significant market for short sets exists, notably among collectors with small budgets. In the case of coins, a short set could exclude, for example, any gold or platinum denominations. In the case of papermonies, a short set could exclude, for example, the $500 and higher denominations.

short snorter — One or more notes of any kind "autographed" by GI drinking buddies to each other during WWII, often connected end-to-end with tape and "scrolled".

shoshi — Special adhesive stamps attached to certain Japanese notes for validation purposes, shortly after World War II.

Shqipnis — Albania, in Albanian. The various spellings found on notes and stamps undoubtedly have specific meanings as Albanian must be a highly inflected language. Here's a short list: Shqipins, Shqiptar, Shqiptare, Shqipterise, Shqiperia, Shqiperija.

siege note(s) — A specific kind of emergency money, issued to a besieged populace.

sight draft — A draft payable upon presentation.

signature(s) — One of the earliest known security devices on paper-monies. There are four major types of signatures: (1) handwritten; (2) rubber stamped; (3) printed, as part of the background design; and, (4) printed, after background design has been printed. The numbers loosely indicate historical popularity, albeit with overlaps.

silk paper — An example of security paper, qv, which includes visible, and often colorful, silk fibers. Not to be confused with silk notes, for example, certain German Notgeld issues.

Silver Certificate(s) — The several series of USA papermonies, authorized in 1878, backed by and redeemable in silver by the US Treasury. The silver redemption privilege was revoked in 1968, but the notes remain, of course, legal tender. ..... If you are a non-collector who just happened to pick up this book, and just happened to crack it open to this page, please, please never approach a dealer and ask: "Hey, I have some silver certificates in a dresser drawer somewhere. Are they still exchangeable for silver coins?"

size — Unless specified otherwise, the size of a note is the size of the paper, not any aspect of its design, eg, the frame. Exceptions include notes produced under lacking or poor quality control conditions resulting in varying paper sizes, and, conceivably notes of identical paper size existing with more than one frame size. The printed size could vary, for example, when a flat plate printing plate is converted to a rotary plate printing plate; this would result in one dimension being longer. See also: measurements.

Small Size Note(s) — A syngraphic term for all the USA paper-monies issued since 10 July 1929. The size reference is to Large Size Notes, qv, coined (!) at the same time. Many countries, particularly those on the American continents and in the Caribbean, have imitated this format, and consequently, a good percentage of modern papermonies are very close to or identical in size to the US SSNs.

Soumi, Soumen — Finland, Finnish, in Finnish.

souvenir cards — Prior to 1969, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) produced souvenir cards for philatelists only. In 1969 it began issuing these cards also with syngraphic themes. While they contain extremely beautiful engravings, these cards have no real function of their own. That is, they can't be used for postage, or spent like money. Their only function is to be sold to collectors. In general, they are "issued" in conjunction with large conventions.

souvenir sheet — A small sheet of stamps with a commemorative inscription of some sort.

specialist collector — In syngraphics, philatelics, numismatics, etc, a collector interested in a restricted area or aspect of a collecting field, as distinguished from a generalist, or worldwide collector. Of course, to the outside world, any collector may appear as a specialist, eg, "He is a papermoney specialist."

specie — Gold, silver and other coin, as distinguished from paper money.

speciman — There is no such word. The noun specimen, qv, is the singular.

specimen — A part of a whole, or one individual of a class or group, used as a sample or example of the whole, class, or group. The plural would be specimens, eg, in discussing the urine specimens of more than one subject.

specimen note(s) — A note that is genuine, but not negotiable. Usually overprinted SPECIMEN (or its equivalent in the language of the issuer). In some cases the word SPECIMEN is perforated or rubber stamped. Usually with serial numbers consisting of all zeroes, or some other special numbers (for example, 12345678 in one position, and 87654321 in the other). Sometimes without any serial numbers. Signatures, if used, are usually those of the first signature combination. Sometimes the signature positions are hole punched to further indicate non-negotiability. The purpose of issuing specimen notes is to familiarize banks, law enforcement agencies, etc, (including those in most other countries) with new issues, and to provide a comparative means of detecting counterfeits.

specimen overprint(s) — Regular notes, subsequently overprinted, rubber stamped, or perforated with the word SPECIMEN or its equivalent. For example, in Estonia the existing notes were overprinted with PROOV, and displayed in banks, post offices, etc, together with the specimen notes of the new issues, after the currency reform in the late 1920s; the reason was to invalidate the samples, and thus render them unstealable, while their counterparts were still valid during the changeover period. Another example involves a number of post World War II era Czechoslovakian notes perforated either with the word SPECIMEN or with three small holes. One theory is that this was done to facilitate marketing them to collectors. That seems odd for two reasons. First, papermoney collecting, at that time, was embryonic at best. Second, if they were demonetized anyway, why bother with such unnecessary mutilation? Do the words cost effective ring a bell?

speculative — A stamp issue released primarily for sale to collectors, rather than to meet any legitimate postal need. A coin issue, eg, NCLT (Non-Circulating Legal Tender) released primarily for sale to collectors, rather that for the use of the populace. This adjective is ready and waiting to describe any papermonies which may be produced for similar purposes. The Franklin Mint produced specimen sets probably qualify. See also: collectors junque.

SPMC — Society of Paper Money Collectors. Emphasis on USA materials.

spurious — Fictitious, false, bogus. Not proceeding from the true source, not genuine, illigitemate. Superficially like, but morphologically unlike. Fantasy. See: speculative, collectors trash. See also the table of often confused terms after counterfeit.

stage money — Fantasy notes or crude imitations of actual notes not intended to defraud, but produced for use as props in the visual entertainment industries. Not only do they eliminate the risk of theft among the multitude of people milling about a stage or studio, but until quite recently it was against the law to film real USA papermoneys. Since a celluloid note will not fool anyone, I've always been of the opinion that this law existed only because the lawmakers couldn't fine tune the writing of the law to apply only to photography which could possibly lead to the production of counterfeiting plates.

stamped money — In certain uncommon situations an issuer has found it necessary and practical to affix an adhesive stamp to its note or series of notes, usually until new notes are ready for circulation. Reasons include the validation of obsolete notes, or possibly the notes of a different issuer, for their new function. An example of this is the first series of East German (DDR) notes issued in 1948. Another reason might be a change in face value. Such stamps are usually specially prepared for the occasion, and are neither postage nor revenue stamps. Generically, such stamped monies straddle both emergency and provisional issues, qv. For my money (sic!), I would think that overprinting or overstamping would be much more cost effective, not to mention infinitely less likely to peel off. Curiously, no issuer has ever bothered to consult me on such a matter.

star note(s) — A replacement note, qv, of USA.

state bank note(s) — Notes issued by banks chartered under state, rather than federal, authority in USA in the 19th Century.

state note(s) — Notes issued by state governments in USA in the 19th Century. Prohibited since the FRS gained its monopoly powers.

stock certificate — Aka: certificate of stock. A certificate that is evidence of ownership of a specified number of shares in a specified corporation. Should syngraphists include stocks and bonds under syngraphics, qv? Or, should stock and bond collectors be urged to come up with a name of their own?

stub — Akin to a check stub, a method of keeping a record of issued notes in the 19th Century. One man's counterfoil, qv, is another man's selvage.

sultanate — Akin to a kingdom, except ruled by a sultan.

sutler note(s) — A private scrip issue of an American Civil War sutler, a merchant authorized to travel with military units to provide food and other goodies to augment regular rations.

surcharge(d) — A note or stamp with an overprint, qv, that changes the denomination from its original face value. A specific case of an overprint.

Sverige, Sveriges — Sweden, Swedish, in Swedish.

syngraphics — The collection and study of papermonies and related paper documents. ..... Syngraphics is to papermonies what Philatelics is to stamps and Numismatics is to coins. ..... The word is derived from the Greek syn, meaning with or together, and grafikos, meaning to write. Moreover, in Latin, syngrfa means a written agreement to pay. ..... The word was officially announced jointly by Dr (Father) Richard Doyle, Chairman of the Department of Classical Languages at Fordham U in New York, and Cataloguer-Author Gene Hessler, at The Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum before an audience of famous collectors and journalists from a variety of hobby publications. The year was 1974. Free At Last, Free At Last! We papermoney fiends finally had a name of our very own. No moah just Collector The Tenth! No more just the poor stepchilds of numismatics. The word enjoyed immediate popularity, and is now universally accepted and used.

Copyright MMII, by Tiitus Syngraphics. All rights reserved.     .....     Last Revision:  2009-05-08