The American $100 bill is arguably the most important and most used bill on the planet. Hundreds make up about 75% of the value of all cash that’s currently in circulation, and they’re incredibly popular overseas as a hedge against fluctuating local currencies. This popularity has led to widespread efforts to counterfeit what has become the gold standard of American currency. That’s why about 10 years ago, the process to redesign the bill began, with the goal of making it much harder to counterfeit.
And the new Benjamin does have some state-of-the-art anti-counterfeiting technology, including tiny 3-D images that move when you move the bill, a hidden message on Ben Franklin’s collar and a Liberty Bell that changes color from copper to green when you tilt the bill. Security experts agree that the new note will be much harder to counterfeit… so difficult that the government itself is having trouble printing it.
Back in 2010, when the new bill was due to roll out, inspectors at the Federal Reserve found that a number of the new notes had creasing that created a blank sliver of space on the front and back of the note. The entire shipment was sent back to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), along with a scathing report that blamed the BEP for not performing “necessary and required testing to resolve technical problems before starting production of the NexGen $100 note.” It was back to the drawing board for the BEP.
Fast-forward to 2013. The new $100 notes are due to come out in October, but there’s been another problem. This time, the issue is “mashing,” which means that too much ink has been applied to the paper, causing the lines to blur. Just how this happened is a question that hasn’t been resolved, but the fact is that the Federal Reserve just sent another thirty million $100 notes back to the BEP, this time with a directive that no bills from the BEP’s Washington, D.C., facility will be accepted until further notice.
That leaves the Fort Worth plant to produce the entire run of $100 bills before the October 8th deadline, which is quite a tall order indeed. The BEP says that the shipment of new notes will be delivered before the deadline, but with all the miscues so far, there are probably a few people over at the Fed wondering whether their new $100 bill might just be cursed.
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