It’s All About the Benjamins

Posted on 10/22/2013

The newest member of the PMG staff, Zach Habermas, takes a look at the security features of the redesigned $100 note and offers up some fun facts.

In celebration of the release of the new $100 note on Tuesday, I’ve decided to give a comprehensive look at all of the new security features in the note as well as provide some other facts that you may find interesting. These notes were delayed several years due to printing errors that caused creasing, however all the kinks have been worked out and now we are finally seeing the final product. The following is a list of the new security features to be used on the first redesign of the hundred dollar bill since 1996.

  1. 3-D Security Ribbon - This new feature will probably be the first thing that you notice. The blue ribbon is woven into the paper and has bells and 100s on it. When you tilt the bill up and down and from side to side the designs move perpendicular to your movement, a feature never before seen on a United States note.
  2. Bell in the Inkwell - To the right of the blue ribbon you will find a copper colored inkwell with the Liberty Bell inside. When you move the note, the bell will change colors from green to copper, while appearing to, well, disappear, in the process.
  3. Color-Shifting 100 - The color of the 100 at the lower right corner will shift from copper to green when the note is tilted. This security feature has been seen on a few other notes in the BEP’s “Color of Money” redesign that started with the $20 note ten years ago this month.
  4. Gold “100” on Back - There is a large gold “100” on the back of the note to help those with vision problems.
  5. Raised Printing - On Benjamin Franklin’s shoulder on the left side of the note the printing is slightly raised and will feel rough to the touch. This is a feature that is seen on many United States notes, due to the Intaglio printing method employed by the BEP.

Along with these new security features there are some familiar features still being included on the notes such as the watermark of Franklin, micro-printing hidden throughout the design and the security thread.

Other Changes to the Design
There are some changes to the basic design as well. Franklin is no longer encased in an oval. There is a large feather to the right of Franklin’s portrait to go with the new inkwell. On the reverse, Independence Hall is shown from the back rather than the front as in earlier versions.

While these new notes were released Tuesday, they probably won’t be found in circulation for many months as banks must first distribute the older notes they already have. However, with $3.5 billion of these notes produced, you’re bound to see one soon.

Now, to leave you on a fun note, here are some interesting facts about $100 notes.

  1. International Superstar - United States $100 notes are quite popular overseas. In fact, it is estimated that around one-half to two-thirds of all $100 notes are held internationally. With $900 billion worth of $100 notes in circulation, that’s around $450-$600 billion worth held overseas. They’re most popular in Azerbaijan, Russia and Vietnam.
  2. Live Long and Prosper - Every note the BEP produces can be folded up to eight thousand times before it tears. However, out of all US notes, the $100 note lasts the longest with an average lifespan of 15 years. This is compared to 5.9 years for a $1 note and 7.7 years for a $20 note.
  3. Priciest to Produce - A $100 note costs 12.5 cents to produce as opposed to 9.8 cents each for the other bills. This is mostly due to the new security features.
  4. Expensive Shipping - The Federal Reserve usually ships $100 notes by pallets. Each of these pallets holds 640,000 notes worth $64 million.
  5. Tick Tock - The time on the clock on top of Independence Hall on the reverse of the bill is 4:10. Why is that? Well that’s anyone’s guess as the Bureau of Engraving and Printing stated “There are no records explaining why that particular time was chosen.”

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