In 1946, shortly after the end of World War II, US military bases around the world got a whole new type of currency. They are called Military Payment Certificates. It was common, until then, for US enlisted men to get payed in foreign currency. This often created a black market where soldiers preferred trading cigarets and other physical items instead of currency.
The first series of MPC was numbered 461. This series had 5 cent, 10c, 25c, 50c, $1, $5 and $10 notes. The highest denomination for any series was $20. Most series have similar designs for each denomination, and would change color schemes with each denomination.
MPC were originally printed by the Tudor Press Corporation of Boston and later the Forbes Lithographic Company, also of Boston. It wasn’t until 1964 that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing started printing MPC.
Like any currency, counterfeiting was a concern. To combat the issue Military Payment Certificates were switched out ever 18-24 months. The change over, or C-Day, would happen over night, in a 24 hour period, without warning. The old MPC would no longer be used and the counterfeiters would have to try working on the new ones.
Despite the fantastic designs, MPC are generally an infrequently collected item. They have a small, but fervent, collector base who meet annually at “MPC Fest”. What this means as a new collector is that it is an easy series to start collecting and working your way through. Many of the notes can be acquired for less than $10 in decent condition. In fact, the hardest part in many instances is actually finding the notes. This means you can enjoy years of collecting, of enjoying the hunt, without breaking the bank.