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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 In 1969, Banknotes of denominations greater than $100 i.e. $ 500, $ 1000, $ 5000 and $ 10000 were withdrawn due to poor demand.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


  1. Namasivayam Ramaswamy has commented on 24.10.13:
    "To tell you the truth nobody likes this new bill.First of all it is very difficult to get any merchandise at mom and pop stores with a 100 bill as the counterfeiters are one up over the feds. Well the additional security features are no big deal for the printing presses in Pakistan and even China and Peru. I m not a cynic but I do believe in the rumors that about 20% of US Bills are fake and if the market can take it why not. I belong to the barter generation and still believe that one cow is equivalent to say one hundred kilos of grains!"

    1. I live in Asia, many moneychangers wont take USD 100 before 2003 series. And now with the new USD 100, I am wondering if they will stop taking the 2006 and 2006A series also without a 5% 'discount'. This is especially bad in Hong Kong and Sigapore.
      I dont know about India though. When I lived in PUNE, it seemed no one even knew what a USD looked like, and very hard to find!

    2. This is not the case now in Pune/other centres in India. All Banks dealing in Foreign Exchange are not only handling USDs, but will also accept all your USDs on being tendered to the Banks including $100 Bills, as well, as give you USDs on request whenever you are travelling abroad on production of proper documents. So it is no big deal now.

  2. Thanks for the detailed insight. The new $100 Bill simply intends to "raise the bar" for counterfeiters by having multiple security threads, variable inks, shifting patterns etc.. Although not much publicised, I do fancy that it also features a new design "Eurion Constellation" pattern as well, more advanced than the earlier one . As an interesting corollary, all new scanners simply refuse to scan Banknotes holding the "Eurion constellation" feature. Even several International/Indian Banknotes have this feature to prevent scanning before facilitating counterfeiting. It would be interesting to see how things develop.

    1. I have had no problems scanning the new 100 on my I-pad to email to my friends in developing Asia what a new 100 looks like. And yes, the scan can be saved as a PDF. No problems. If I could attach it here for you, I would.

    2. Even I have an old scanner, which is also able to scan Banknotes having the "Eurion Constellation" feature. However, all the new scanners which I have tried to scan the Banknotes with, have declined to scan the Banknotes with a polite message of refusal. This is what I have recorded in my comment dated 24.10.2013.

  3. Samiran Adhicary has commented on 25.10.13:
    " I'm sure you have seen the Leonardo DeCaprio Tom Hanks starer "Catch me if you can". Very interesting period film."

  4. Yes, I have seen it three times.. One of my favorites!! Another one which I have seen is "The Counterfeiters" about USDs being counterfeited in Nazi Germany!! Interestingly, the US counterfeit detection Agencies some years ago while trying to trace $ 100 counterfeit Bills detected a counterfeit currency "factory" in erstwhile East Germany (now a part of Germany) which was printing counterfeits meant for several countries, including in Asia.


  5. Namasivayam Ramaswamy has commented on 27.10.13:
    "Very interesting indeed. In fact a Nazi agent took bagful of counterfeit bills I believe it was USD and or Pound sterling to Brussels during the war and the Bank cleared the bills as genuine. Well it was Gutenberg who invented the printing machine and it follows that Germans still have that capability to print fake bills as it is in their genes to turn out the state of the art printers.India is another story.Our rupee banknotes allegedly have even more security features than that of other industrialized nations but HMMM Pakistan are beating us in the game."

    1. It was in a movie called 'The Counterfeiters' to which you refer. The Nazi took the fake Sterling notes to Geneva, where he pressed the banker about their authenticity. The banker said the would have to have them checked with the Bank of England, who in turn notified the Swiss Bank the notes were real. The Nazi went back to the special concentration camp where some very clever ex-Jew criminals were making the notes for the Nazis, and bought them a ping pong table. Their biggest challenge was next in faking the US 100, but the war ended before they could succeed. A post-script to the movie shows a very interesting 'what if' in Monaco.

  6. Rajeev Prasad I am sending you a link for a book review titled "Money Makers- The secret World of Banknote Printing" by Klaus M.Bender, which is a very realistic study of how a few Corporations dominate the World of Banknote Printing across the World. Counterfeiting or not, this is the bigger "scam" in play world-wide and best of all - it has a legal sanctity to it!!

  7. Dipak Mukherjee has commented on 29.10.13:
    "Be it films, serious in-depth books/reports, history! You do not leave anything uncovered. As long as anyone has a question, you will delve deeper. Keep it up, Rajeev".


  8. Thanks for the constant encouragement.

  9. Namasivayam Ramaswamy has commented on 30.10.13:
    " That was a very interesting insight indeed. Long back, I used to visit Mint street in then Bombay by tram and after visiting the Naval dock yard and seeing names as Osaka Maru and son, I used to stop by at the intimidating gates of the then note printing press. In fact I had some acquaintances whose parents were the composers of the primitive block printing presses.They were subjected to constant surveilance physical checks and the local police stations were required to watch their shopping habits. Those were the days when life was very peaceful:local grocers ,no credit cards and telephones were the preserve of the rich and famous.Of course, couterfeiters also thrived but were caught and got away by bribing the cops! That was the Indian Rupee story. Yes, in America there was also massive counterfeiting but if you are not good with the local shereif you would definitely be hanged or shot by the rival counterfeiters.

  10. Aptly put. It is true that counterfeiters will always be active. A few years ago, the Japanese 500 yen coin which is their highest denomination of coin in value was issued with the maximum security features which too got replicated in a crude sort of way. The Yuan Shih Kai dollar or the" Fatman" dollar, one of the most popular Chinese issues since 1914, is now counterfeited in at least 125 die varieties. Nevertheless, the Reserve Banks printing currencies/minting coins world over can only hope to carry on "raising the bar" every time for the counterfeiters, so as to sanitize their currency/coin issues. However, again there is a catch: Going back to the few Corporations which dominate the World of Banknote Printing, as I have mentioned before, Crane has been supplying the Printing paper to the US Treasury since 1879,while De La Rue was printing the Currency Notes for over 115 countries at one point of time. The stranglehold of these and similar Corporations continues over the World of Banknote printing. The undernoted link will give you an idea as to how these Corporations in addition to the Paper/inks/Printing Presses etc. also provide the Security threads/technologies to help Reserve Banks keep ahead of the counterfeiters. A veritable Catch-22 situation for the Bankers: On one side, the threat of Counterfeiting, while on the other side the "overbearing monopoly" of these Corporations.

  11. Namasivayam Ramaswamy has commented on 31.10.13:
    "Yes, I agree it is an Unequal world.It is the underdogs like us keep feeding the top dogs. Although I am not a card carrying communist I once thought that legislation like MRTP act et al will end the monopolies in India at least. But what we see is the exploitation of a different kind. Bills are supposed to be printed on cotton fiber and it is illegal in the US to manufacture cotton fiber papers by paper mills not on the federal approved list. But manufacturing these papers is not rocket science and it is believed that China,Peru, Columbia and even Pakistan have this know how. So, counterfeiting is no big deal. The US secret service has a very proactive and aggressive website which will tell you in seconds if the bill is fake or not. But it is available only to authorized users.

  12. I don’t think it is anybody’s case that, one should simply lie low and let the counterfeiters “take over the world’s economy”. It is to the credit of the US Federal Reserve and the US Government that they are taking whatever measures they can to prevent counterfeiting of any kind, given all the constraints. Notwithstanding the fact that although less than 1/100th of 1 % of the total US currency is counterfeit, they take the preventive measures which you have mentioned , and many more, to keep the counterfeiters at bay. It is to their credit that their currency undergoes several changes, thereby, “raising the bar” for the counterfeiters every time – the $ 100 Bill has undergone 3 changes in design as well as the included security features. The latest features incorporated in the $ 100 Bills are not going to be counterfeited by unscrupulous persons in a hurry!! The only problem is that even the old $100 Bills will continue to be in circulation, some of which may turn out to be fake, hence these stringent preventive measures are still required to continue.