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BP Number

In early November of 2000, it was noted by David Evans in Calgary, that several of the then circulating $5 notes (BC-56c) had a back plate number that seriously out of place.

Traditionally, the plate number was assigned by the company that printed the note. Each time a note was printed, new "plates" or masters were made up for use on the press. To keep track of this, very small numbers are added to the image and was changed every time a new plate was prepared. This small number is on both sides of every bill.

Sometime in 1990, the plate number was changed to be more of a position number. From that date on, the printing companies printed sheets of note (40 up on a sheet) with each note having a different plate number. To add to the fun, there is no particular pattern to how the "position numbers" are placed on the sheet (well, at least as far as I can determine anyway). We still refer to them as plate numbers, even though the term is no longer technically correct.

But I digress... the error.

In this example, the plate number should be
down into the clearer blue area and out of
the grass, like this:

One theory on the cause of this was that the blue layer, which prints the blue plate number was out of registration (alignment) and you could not tell because there are no other spots on the note where registration is this critical.

Unfortunately, assuming (and it is a big assumption) that the plate number is on the same print layer as the text of the bird name, we see the following. I have used a triangle lined up with the bottom left corner of the letter "M"

Normal location

Normal location

Error location

Error location

The back plate number (BP#) on the error note is not in the same position as the normal note when compared to the letter "M".

While it remains a mystery, and the Bank of Canada is not saying much, members of the CPMS are currently tracking numbers and looking for patterns.



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