What is a Star Note?
The term "Star Note" commonly refers to Replacement Notes. These are notes that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) uses to replace misprinted and damaged currency before it gets released into circulation. Modern replacement notes look exactly like normal paper money, except that there is a star printed at the end of the serial number rather than a letter. Older types of paper money like Gold Certificates, Silver Certificate, and Legal Tender notes the star was printed at the beginning of the serial number.
Star Notes are printed in what are called "runs." For the current printing techniques used by the BEP, the maximum run size for Star Notes is 3,200,000 notes (100,000 32-note sheets). Sometimes a lower quantity of Star notes are needed, in which case fewer are printed. Common run sizes are 320,000, 640,000, 1,280,000, and 2,560,000 but there are others.
If a less-than-full run of Star Notes is printed, the next run will start at the next closest multiple of 3.2 million.
For example: a printing of 1,280,000 followed by 640,000 followed by 3,200,000 would use these serial numbers:
- Run 1: X 0000 0001 * - X 0128 0000 *
- Run 2: X 0320 0001 * - X 0384 0000 *
- Run 3: X 0640 0001 * - X 0960 0000 *
Star Note Rarity
Star Notes get their rarity from the quantity printed and released into circulation. Some collectors put together sets of Star Notes broken down by each print run. Other collectors put together sets of Star Notes broken down by the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) - indicated by the first letter of the Serial Number.
Due to different collecting goals, there is debate whether Star Note print run size or the total quantity printed per FRB is more important for determining value.
Collectors generally consider Star Notes from print runs of 640,000 notes or fewer to be rare enough to be worth more than face value. Condition is extremely important to value for modern notes.
Two Types Of Star Notes
There are two types of Star Notes - Sheet Notes and Regular Notes. The difference is when in the printing process they are used. The print type has a large impact on whether a Star Note is rare or not. Read more about the two types here: Two Types of Star Notes: Sheet Notes vs Regular Notes.
How Rare Is My Star Note?
If you want to find the rarity of a Star Note, you need to find the production values for that run and FRB. I have two references on my site for series 1976 to the present - the Star Note Lookup and production tables: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100. That will give you a sense of whether your note might be rare/valuable or not. To dig in further you can read about how to find your note's estimated value here: What Is My Note Worth?