Collecting genuine artifacts from the past has been an exciting and rewarding hobby for many people around the world. But why do so many people choose this as their favorite pass time? Well. collectibles recall the living conditions, lifestyles, and interests of people that lived centuries and years before us.
Authentic pieces and artifacts such as antiques, tools, artwork, coins, or paper money honor and illuminate the past times and awaken curiosity and interest. A lot of people collect old money and coins from around the world. The most popular US money are Colonial, Confederate, and Federal Reserve Notes.
In this article, we will talk about the 1934 $20 bill value, how many types are there, and where you can find them.
Short History Of $20 Bill
So let’s start from the bottom. As you all know we mentioned a lot of times that back in the day people considered $2 and $5 bills as large denominations. These bills were rarely used and printed, not to mention $10 or $20 bills.
However, sometime in 1775, the first $20 bill was printed in the Philadelphia mint. It was produced during the Colonial Period, and the first confederate $20 bill appeared in Richmond, Virginia. Fun fact, almost all 1775 $20 bills were destroyed after Civil War so they are extremely rare nowadays.
Since most $20 bills were destroyed, Congress authorized the new $20 bill design in 1861. This is when the Federa00l Reserve printing period began. But since the demand for these bills was low they were rarely printed. The $20 bill from the 1928 series was a gold certificate, unfortunately, all series after that one lost the possibility of getting gold instead of paper money.
1934 came and this is when our bill was printed for the first time. Now, you should know that there are regular 1934 $20 bills and 1934 Hawaii Pearl Harbor $20 bills.
All denominations in that period were printed with a brown seal for exclusive use in Hawaii and the Pacific. The reason was that Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor so the government wanted to be sure these bills would be worthless in case the Japanese get them.
How Will You Recognize 1934 $20 Bill?
The good news is that after reading this article you will be able to determine different series of 1934 $20 bills, as well as to determine if they are real or fake, rare or common.
The great thing is that both regular and Hawaii 1934 $20 bills have the number 20 in all four corners on both sides of the bill. This is accompanied by THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA on the top edge and the denomination TWENTY DOLLARS below.
The design of the 1934 $20 bill
Logically to be able to recognize a real 1934 $20 you’ll need to know the design of the bill in detail. These bills feature a stylish and distinctive design. Things to remember are standardized texture, printing, and paper quality. Also, pay attention to the color of the seals and signatures on these notes.
Look at the obverse and reverse sides
Pay attention to how both sides of the bill look like. On the front side of the bill, you will notice a portrait of 7th American President Andrew Jackson. Also, look for the green seal on the right side and the serial number which is located on the top right and bottom left corners. Serial numbers will always include any of the first twelve letters since all twelve districts printed these banknotes.
On other hand, the front side of the 1934 Hawaii Pearl Harbor $20 bill is a bit different. Yes, the design is the same, but these bills as well feature two words HAWAII on the right and left edges. All of these bills are overprinted in bold letters, and they have brown instead of a green seals.
The reverse side of the 1934 $20 bill features attractive decoration and design. You’ll notice a beautiful vignette with a centrally positioned White House surrounded by tree lines. Make sure you remember that the 1934 Hawaii Pearl Harbor $20 bill has the Hawaii overprint on the entire reverse side.
What is interesting about this bill is the printing texture. When you run your fingers along the surface you can feel raised texture. This texture is impossible to counterfeit so if your bill is too smooth then it is 100% fake.
All Federal Reserve notes, as well as the 1934 $20 bills, are made of paper that contains three-fourths cotton and one-fourth linen. You will recognize them by the red and blue security fibers on the banknote’s surface.
Let’s talk about some basics now. I’m sure many of you know that the Federal Reserve banknotes seal is always placed on the left side of the obverse side. This seal is black, on the other hand, the treasury seal placed on the right side has changed over time.
When we talk about the 1934 $20 bill, this one has a green seal on the right side. Don’t forget that the 1934 Hawaii Pearl Harbor $20 bill must have a brown treasury seal.
No matter the denomination every bill has a serial number made of a combination of ten symbols, including two letters and eight digits. When we talk about 1934 $20 bills you’ll notice two serial numbers on the front page. They must be identical!
Now make sure you pay attention to the following information. It is possible to find a 1934 $20 bill with two different number rows with typically only one altered digit. If you come across this bill, keep it! These are considered error bills, and they are extremely valuable and rare.
Now let’s talk some basic information about how to read serial numbers. The numbers determine the series year, while the letter points out in which of the Federal Reserve bank printed that particular bill. The letters on the bill go from A to L and they refer to one city.
Remember that letters like O and Z are never printed on bills. O since it is easily confused with 0, and Z because it is always used for test printing. Also, you’ll find a star symbol instead of the last letter of some serial numbers, and these are replacement bank notes or also called star notes.
It is illegal to print two banknotes with the same serial number so placing a start symbol means this bill replaces the original which is damaged in some way. Pay attention to unique serial number combinations as well since they are very attractive among collectors.
Before you start looking for 1934 $20 bills you need to know that the US Bureau of engraving and printing produced five different types of this bill, plus two types of Hawaii series that were printed during WWII.
So in total, there are seven different types of 1934 $20 bills, and every type has two signatures on the front page, like all other US banknotes. Here is the list of signatures sorted by type:
- 1934 $20 – Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. and Treasurer William Alexander Julian
- 1934 A $20 – Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. and Treasurer William Alexander Julian
- 1934 B $20 –Treasury Secretary Frederick Moore Vinson and Treasurer William Alexander Julian
- 1934 C $20 – Treasury Secretary John Wesley Snyder and Treasurer William Alexander Julian
- 1934 D $20 – Treasury Secretary John Wesley Snyder and Treasurer Georgia Neese Clark Gray
- 1934 $20 Hawaii – Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr.and Treasurer William Alexander Julian
- 1934 A $20 Hawaii – Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. and Treasurer William Alexander Julian
It is good to know and remember all these signatures since they are one of the features that can help you identify if the bill you are currently having or looking is real or fake.
Most Valuable 1934 $20 Bills
Most of you know that bills that come from circulation are in not-so-great condition, so they will only sell for their face value, and some not even for that. However, circulated 1934 $20 bills in very fine condition, as well as Hawaii series and star notes, will sell for a premium price tag considering they are rare. Keep in mind that the 1934 $20 bills have three different seal varieties – green seals and brown seals (Hawaii series).
Now let’s quickly go over some value estimation for 1934 $20 bills so you can know what to expect, or how to form a price. As already mentioned, there are five 1934 $20 bill types, and two printed in Hawaii. Their estimated value depends on the condition and variation.
Regular series of 1934 $20 bills:
- 1934 $20 bill – This banknote comes with a green seal and is typically worth $30 to $40 in circulated condition or $50 if in very fine condition. On the other hand, this bill in uncirculated condition with rade MS 63 will cost around $115.
- 1934 A, 1934 B, 1934 C, and 1934 D $20 bill – These series are usually less expensive than the first printed series. Bills that come from circulation in very fine condition can reach up to $35, while those that are in a worse condition are worth only their face value. Uncirculated bill in the mint state goes around $75.
- 1934 $20 Hawaii bill – Expectedly, Hawaii Pearl Harbor notes are rare and very valuable ones. Many collectors are willing to pay $1,000 to $2,500 for uncirculated bills. Those that originate from circulation still manage to fetch a nice amount of money. Circulated 1934 $20 bill in very fine condition costs around $125, while in extremely fine condition $300.
- 1934A $20 Hawaii bill – These are a bit less desirable and valuable that the first Hawaii series. Uncirculated 1934A $20 Hawaii bill is rare and will bring you at least $775 and up to $900. The circulated bills in very fine condition are worth $115, while in an extremely fine condition worth around $165.
1934 $20 Star Note series:
- 1934 series $20 star notes – A bill from circulation with a very fine grade are worth around $85. For those that are in extremely fine condition, the estimated value is $150. In uncirculated condition, the price is around $675 for banknotes with an MS 63 grade.
- 1934A series $20 star notes – are worth around $75 in very fine condition. In extremely fine condition the value is around $150. In uncirculated condition, the price for a bill with a grade of MS 63 is $350.
- 1934B series $20 star notes – This series of star bills is a bit more popular among collectors. A circulated bill in a very fine condition worth around $125 to $175. In extremely fine condition the value is $225. On the other hand, for an uncirculated bill, the price is around $650. Remember that star notes issued from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas are even more valuable.
- 1934C series $20 star notes – These are worth around $80 to $100 in very fine condition, in extremely fine condition the value is $150. An uncirculated bill with a grade of MS 63 will cost you around $450.
- 1934D series $20 star notes – Like the B series, the D series of star notes is much more attractive and rare. Circulated star bills from this series are worth around $110 to $130 in very fine condition. For those that come in extremely fine condition, the value is around $175 to $225. In uncirculated condition, the price is at least $625.
- 1934 $20 Hawaii series star notes – These bills are extremely rare. If they come out on the market they disappear very soon. No matter the condition they will cost a couple of thousands of dollars.
1934 $20 bill errors
Errors bills are not very common with American banknotes since they practice a very strict controlling process. In case errors occur they get rid of them immediately. However, sometimes you can come across a bill with atypical imperfections. Those banknotes are very attractive to collectors and will achieve very high price tags.
The most common type of error is misprinted bill. A misprinted 1934 $20 bill usually has mismatched serial numbers on the front page, however, this is an extremely rare error. They are typically very valuable, and you can expect to pay or get at least $500 per piece.
List of most valuable 1934 $20 bills
Where Should You Look For Rare 1934 $20 Bills?
Well, since these bills are old and very rare the best option is to start looking in your local numismatic shop, local numismatics shows, or auction. On events like these, you can inspect the banknote you are considering buying and determine its real value, and if it’s real or fake.
Also, a great place to search for these bills is at some online collectors community that is focused on collecting paper money. Here you can collect all kinds of necessary information about the particular bill from other people. In the end, as usual, you can explore the internet and see what’s in store there.
Platforms such as eBay, Etsy, and LiveAuctioneers are always good options since there you can always find at least a few sold examples that will help you form a price. Like always, I will recommend you to check the seller before making any purchase, since old bills are valuable and some people will try to sell you fake ones.
Why is Hawaii’s 1934 $20 bill more valuable?
The Hawaii bills were published during WWII by the US government in two series 1934 and 1934A. The government printed these bills in smaller amounts as a precaution in case Japanese troops took over Hawaii. In that case, these bills would be canceled and become useless.
Keep in mind that Hawaii bills feature brown seals and the word Hawaii was printed on the reverse side in big bold font. These notes are rare and valuable!
What is the rarest 1934 $20 bill?
The rarest series of 1934 $20 bills are definitely the Hawaii Pearl Harbor series. Even though the regular 1934 Hawaii series is a bit more attractive and valuable than the 1934A Hawaii series, these will fetch you a nice amount of money.
The estimation is that both series will bring you at least $1,000, but some specimens can be worth much more, for instance, star banknotes.
What serial numbers are most popular among collectors?
Unusual serial numbers will always be sought-after among collectors, no matter the denomination or year of release. Examples are low serial numbers, ladder serial numbers, reverse ladder serial numbers, birthday serial numbers, solid serial numbers, and so on.
If you have any type of bill with those kinds of serial numbers you can expect a high price tag for it. Make sure you are focused on searching for numbers below 100 and 1,000.
Here are some examples that you should look for when we talk about 1934 $20 bills:
- Number 1 serial A00000001A – Depending on the condition, and rarity the price can go up to $15,000
- Low serial A00000099A or A00000999A – These will go from $100 and up
- High serial A99999900A and higher
- Perfect up or partial up ladder A12345678A, or A00012345A
- Perfect down or partial down ladder A87654321A or A87654000A
- Solid serial number, for instance, A11111111A – Price will go from $500
- Seven numbers in a row A12222222A
- Double quad, something like A44445555A
- Super or partial repeater A23232323A – These will bring you at least a few hundred dollars
- Palindrome, also known as radar notes A00011000A
- Super radar A34444443A
- Flipper when the serial number has 69 or 96 somewhere in combination like A0006900A – Up to a few hundred dollars
- Binary super-repeater only 1s and 0s A01010101A – The price goes from $900
Is It Worthy To Collect 1934 $20 Bills?
I will always say yes to collecting old money. This is a very fun and in the end a very fruitful hobby. You can earn a lot of money by simply learning which denomination and banknote varieties are currently popular among collectors.
Keep in mind that money that was printed during the Great Depression, will always be in demand since it presents a piece of history. This period was the worst economic downturn in the history of the US. Because of that the government did not print and minted a lot of money and coins which make them very rare, Unfortunately, a lot of coins and banknotes from that time were destroyed.
However, those that survived ended up in the numismatic collections, and nowadays they are very sought-after and valuable. In case you or someone close to you had experience with selling or buying money from 1934, please make sure you share that adventure with us.