Redesigned $100 bill aimed at foiling counterfeiters

Image of the New Bills

March 25, 1996
Web posted at: 1:35 a.m. EST

From Correspondent Carl Rochelle

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. government printing presses have been working for weeks, churning out $80 billion worth of fresh $100 bills. The newly redesigned bills go into circulation around the world Monday.

It is the first major change in the look of U.S. paper money since 1929. Designed to foil counterfeiters, the new $100 notes display no less than eight new, high-tech features.

But the redesigned bill has been creating far more concern overseas than in the United States. That's put Treasury officials in the awkward position of having to publicly reassure other nations even before the new C-note is officially released.

Image of Rubin

"As long as somebody holds a bill in good shape -- a hundred bill of the old currency -- that bill will be good," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. (102K AIFF sound or 102K WAV sound)

According to the Treasury Department, there are about two and a half billion real $100 bills circulating in the world. To reassure the many international holders of dollars, the Treasury Department has begun a massive international education campaign. (43K AIFF sound or 43K WAV sound)

Russians, particularly, are concerned -- they can't forget 1991 and 1993, when they were told suddenly that old rubles would no longer be worth anything and millions lost their life savings.

Image of a New 100 Dollar Bill

One of the new anti-counterfeiting measures features a bigger Ben Franklin -- and the image is off center to make room for a watermark visible only when the bill is held up to the light. Such watermarks will not appear if the bill is photo- copied -- even on the newer color copiers.

More anti-counterfeiting measures include a polymer thread that glows red under an ultraviolet light, micro-printed words too small to be easily forged, and color shifting ink -- the number "100" shifts from green to black.

And the Treasury Department isn't talking about some of the new security features on the bills to avoid giving tips to potential counterfeiters.

These features won't guarantee success against international counterfeiting rings. But officials say the new design will have a big impact on the casual counterfeiter -- people who use computers or photocopiers to make a few bucks to tide them over.

Ultimately all U.S. paper money will go the way of the $100 bill. The Treasury Department says next year will bring changes to $50 bills, and after that to roughly one denomination a year.

That means it will still be a few years yet before George Washington, who decorates the $1 bill, is pushed off center by the wheels of progress.


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