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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Did YOU KNOW SERIES (17) : The new $ 100 Bill/banknote with additional Security Features introduced into circulation on 08.10.2013 by the US Federal Reserve:

Did YOU KNOW SERIES (17) : The new $ 100 Bill/banknote with additional Security Features introduced into circulation on 08.10.2013 by the US Federal Reserve:

Luckily for me, Jayant Biswas, a leading Numismatist and International currency collector  was touring the USA and he went around several Bank Branches requesting for them to give him two pieces of the new $100 Bill (one for his collection and one for mine). Some Banks said that they had placed their indent/requisitioned for the new $ 100 Currency Note, a consignment of which was expected to be received shortly, others said that based on popular demand, they were reserving their received consignments for being distributed among their customers only. 

Not one to be easily discouraged, Jayant managed to get at least one $ 100 Bill for his collection, scanned images of which I am presenting below. The “meticulous rationing” by the Banks who are treating the new $100 Bill like a “treasure find” meant that Jayant could not obtain a piece for my collection, hence I have borrowed his Banknote for the purpose illustration in this article.


The $ 100 or one hundred dollar Bill/Banknote features on its Front Benjamin Franklin, who was a US statesman, inventor and diplomat. On the reverse of the Banknote is an image of Independence Hall. The time on the clock of Independence Hall on the reverse is 4.10 (approx).

The $ 100 Bills are also referred to as “Benjamins” or “C-Notes” (based on the Roman numeral “C” for “hundred”).

Interestingly, the C-Bill is one of the two denominations being printed/in circulation, present day, which do not feature a President of the United States, the other being $ 10 Banknotes which feature Alexander Hamilton.

The $ 100 Banknote has been the largest denomination of currency in circulation since 1969. Following the passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, Federal Reserve Banks began issuing Federal Reserve Banknotes in 1914 in denominations of $1 to $ 10000. In 1969, Banknotes of denominations greater than $100 i.e. $ 500, $ 1000, $ 5000 and $ 10000 were withdrawn due to poor demand.

The “Series 2009” $100 Banknotes redesign was unveiled on 21.04.2010 and issued into circulation on 11.02.2011, but its printing was stopped as more than 30% Banknotes were found unusable due to a manufacturing flaw. A vertical crease in the paper revealed a blank space on the Bill when pulled out.

In their replacement and in keeping with the continuing the high demand for this denomination, the “Series 2006 A” were circulated, which retained the previous 1996 generation design.

The Front of a “Series 2006 A” $100 Banknote/Bill in my collection. 

The Back of the above $ 100 Bill showing Independence Hall. Don’t miss the clock on Independence Hall showing the time as “4.10”.

Stationery Firm Crane & Co. based in Dalton, Massachusetts, makes the paper on which the $100 Banknote is printed on. Crane has been the only supplier of currency paper to the US Treasury since 1879.

New $ 100 Bill/Banknote released on 08.10.2013:

The new Design for the $ 100 Banknote was conceptualized in 2010, but the actual release could not take place due to production delays. As mentioned above, in December 2010, a printing problem caused the $100 Banknotes to crease and were accordingly considered unusable and not fit for circulation. This defect/error meant that the new Design $100 Banknotes could not be released as per their earlier schedule in 2011.

On 08.10.2013, the Federal Reserve has begun circulating the new $ 100 Bill/Banknote with a fresh new design as well as smarter and better security Features. 

Notice that the new $ 100 Bill is marked as “Series 2009 A” and not marked as from a later Series, indicating that it is in continuation of the 2009 Series, but with additional Security Features and issued after ironing out the flaws of the earlier paper/printing.

The Back of the above $ 100 Bill showing Independence Hall. Don’t miss the clock on Independence Hall showing the time as “10.30” (approx) which is different from the earlier timing of “4.10”. 

Security Features of the new $ 100 Bill:

The new $ 100 Bill which has been put into circulation from 08.10.2013, has several additional security features, including an image of the Liberty Bell that appears in an inkwell as well as a 3-D blue motion strip running vertically down the centre.

The Federal Reserve is overseeing the introduction of the new $ 100 Bill and targeting much of its messaging to foreign countries. Going by the list of languages the Federal Reserve’s marketing materials are translated into, major users/holders of this denomination of Banknotes are expected to be Azerbaijan, India, Indonesia, Korea, Russia, Vietnam, etc.

The latest technologies in place on the $ 100 Bill/Banknote:

Different Firms – Crane & Co. (which supplies the printing paper for printing the US Treasury since 1879), De La Rue (which prints currency for several countries) etc. use several trademarked technologies for enhancing the security technologies/features to dissuade counterfeiters. 

Some of the new security features/technologies now being used by Crane & Co. are as under:

a)   MOTION: images appear to move in a fascinating and counter-intuitive way, as if floating on a liquid surface. This striking effect is caused by a micro-lens array interacting with a pre-programmed image array. The lens array causes the striking image effects that are both novel and unique immediately catching the discerning user’s attention. This technology sets a new standard in optical security features and is the first ever micro-optic based material used in Banknotes.

b)   COMET: “Coded METallic” security thread. This feature is based on the interplay between micro and macro demetallized elements, in which the micro elements contribute to a machine enabled readable encoding scheme.

c)   DURAMET:  This feature uses demetallization and lamination to cover and protect the metal layer.

d)   SWITCH: This is a windowed diffractive security thread upon which two unique and easily recognizable diffractive elements are replicated. As the viewing angle changes, a prominent switch between the two images is seen. Behind the SWITCH image, a diffractive background adds security and more complexity as well as enhances the brilliance and overall aesthetics of the thread.

e)   SECURATEXT: This is a demetallization technique which improves the legibility and security of demetallised optically variable security threads. SECURATEXT fine line demetallization cannot be simulated by metallic ink or foil transfer counterfeiting techniques.

Studying the  new Design Security Features as incorporated on the $ 100 Bill:

The well-known image of Benjamin Franklin still features on the new design, but the image is not surrounded by an oval as hitherto before.

Two key security features of the new Bill include a 3-D blue motion security strip/ribbon running vertically down the centre, with images of “bells” and “100s” and a colour shifting bell inside a copper inkwell on the front of the Banknote.  These features, among several others, have been added while retaining at least three highly effective security features from the earlier $100 banknotes, to prevent counterfeiting.

Reading/Deciphering the Blue Ribbon feature: When one looks at the blue Ribbon on the Front of the Banknote, if the Banknote is tilted back and forth, the “bells” change to “100s” and the Bells and 100s move from side to side. If one tilts the Banknote side by side, the bells and 100s move up and down. Another interesting feature of the Ribbon is that it is woven into the Banknote paper and not printed on it.

Reading/Deciphering the Bell in the Inkwell feature: When the Banknote is tilted while looking at the colour shifting bell  inside a copper coloured inkwell on the front of the Banknote, the colour of the bell shifts from copper to green in an effect that makes the bell seem to appear and disappear in the inkwell. 

By the inkwell: there is a “100” label in the Banknote’s lower right corner. Its colour too alternates between copper and green if the Banknote is tilted, which is another security feature.

Around the inkwell and not in it: is a quill, representing the pen used by the Founding Fathers to sign the Declaration of Independence.

The new note also features “raised printing” (intaglio printing) – if one moves one’s finger along Franklin’s shoulder on the left side of the Note, it feels somewhat rough resulting from the enhanced intaglio printing process which has been used to create the image.

It is felt that these new security features will make it easier for users to authenticate the genuineness of the $100 Banknotes and deter counterfeiters.

The “ghostly” watermark of “Ben” Franklin’s face: visible on the right side of the Bill when one holds it up to a light is still there, but the portrait has been simplified.


It costs 12.5 cents to make one $ 100 Banknote now, because of the new Security Features (up from 8.7 cents the earlier $100 Bill used to cost for printing, an increase of 60 % - primarily because of the cost of incorporating the new security features and for “raising the bar” for counterfeiters).

“Raising the bar” for counterfeiters:

It is estimated that roughly $ 60 million to $ 80 million in counterfeit dollar Banknotes are circulating around the globe at any point of time. This works out to between 80 cents and $ 1 for every 10000 Banknotes in circulation, mostly in $ 100 denominations which has been attempted to deter counterfeiters further, by  introduction of the new $ 100 Banknote.

An estimate of the difficulty in counterfeiting a USD Banknote can be made from the fact that less than 1/100th of 1% of US Currency per year are counterfeit. The higer value denomination of $ 100 is the most counterfeited – in other words, the higher the risk/difficulty in counterfeiting, the counterfeiter faces, higher the denomination of the counterfeit currency to compensate for the risks involved.

If counterfeiting is extremely difficult, then what prevents stealing the Banknotes?

In June 2013, when a currency transfer was being effected from a Switzerland office of a Bank to the USA, it was reported that a theft of $1.2 million in $100 Banknotes/Bills had taken place from a Swiss International Airlines Passenger Flight when it arrived in New York from Zurich. The money was part of a currency shipment meant for the Bank’s US vaults, but during transit, when such large shipments are required to pass through Federal Reserve facilities (where old and worn out Bills are exchanged for new ones), the theft/shortage was detected when the shipment was received at the Reserve in Rutherford, New Jersey. It seems that in one of the large containers carrying 3 crates, one of the crates had a large gaping hole on one side, much larger than the usual forklift dents/damages which went unnoticed during the various transfers, as such the theft or the mishandling could have happened anywhere on the various places where the containers had travelled.

Hopefully, lessons would have been learnt and stringent security measures would be set in place so that the new $ 100 Bills does not encounter such thefts/misplacements. 

$100 facts:

a)   Prior to the new design of $ 100 Banknotes which was released for circulation on 08.10.2013, the last design change of the $ 100 Banknote was carried out in 1996 and the Banknote was put into circulation in March 1996.

b)   By the end of 2012, around 8.6 billion $100 Banknotes were in circulation. By June 2013, 77% of the value of all US currency is in the form of $100 Banknotes. Most of these Banknotes (about two-thirds) are being held overseas. The number of $ 100 Bills has quintupled over the past two decades, making it one of the fastest growing circulation rates for any denomination of Banknote. The $ 100 Banknote is the second most common bill in circulation, after the $ 1 Banknote (10.3 billion Banknotes).

c)   Around 3.5 billion new $100 Banknotes have been printed so far for distribution among the 9000 odd Banks that are doing Business in/with the USA through 28 Federal Reserve Bank Cash Offices as well as global circulation.

d)   The estimated “life span” of a $100 Bill is about fifteen years, which is the longest for any denomination of Banknote. This compares favourably with the life span of a $1 Banknote (5.9 years approx.) and $ 20 Banknotes (7.7 years approx). To have an idea of the intrinsic strength of any USD Banknote, it is estimated that, while a regular piece of paper can be folded about 400 times before it breaks/gets torn, a USD Banknote can withstand up to 8000 folds.

e)   The older $ 100 Banknotes will eventually get returned to the Federal Reserve and gradually be replaced by the new $ 100 Bills/Banknotes. Nevertheless, it is a US Government policy that all designs of US currency remain legal tender, regardless of when they were issued. To that extent, it may be several years, before the older version of the $ 100 Banknotes will get returned to the Federal Reserve.

 “Camouflaged”/"hidden" messages:

In 2002, when the $20 Bill was folded in a certain way , it revealed images that resembled the 9/11 attacks, a theory that gained ground with several theoreticians/naysayers who opined that as these Banknotes were issued in 1998, someone was trying to pass on a message.

With the release of the new $100 Banknotes, there is a flurry of activity among people obsessed with such “imagination”/”fantasies” into attaching a “meaning” to the various “messages” that the $100 Banknote may hold within its folds. So, one should not be surprised, if one gets a severely folded Banknote in circulation. It is probably someone from this lot of skeptics who was trying to find a “message” by folding the Banknote in several different ways!!

1) The Great Seal of the United States of America

2) Native American Themed $1 coins Programme

3) State Commemorative Quarters Programme

4) Westward Journey Nickel Series 2004-2006

5) Susan Anthony Commemorative Dollar Coin

6) America The Beautiful Quarters Programme - 2010

7) America The Beautiful Quarters Programme - 2011

8) America The Beautiful Quarters Programme - 2012

9) America The Beautiful Quarters Programme - 2013

10) America The Beautiful Quarters Programme 2014

11) The Strange Case of me becoming a US Citizen, without even applying for it, thanks to the US Mint

12) US Bicentennial Coins

13) America the Beautiful Quarters Programme - 2015

14) Forever Stamps: Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the US Civil War 1861-1865

15) Commemorating the 225th Anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service with coins

16) American Gold Eagle Coins

17) American Gold Buffalo Coins

18) America the Beautiful Quarters - 2016