Design of the New Currency

Readabilty and Recognizability

The most crucial part of our new bills is that they must be easily readable and recognizable -- in fact, this is one of our main motivations in creating these new bills. Our first item is to destylize the bills a bit to make them more readable. Although most people might contend that there is little difficulty in determining a one dollar bill from a five dollar bill, our new bills will be even more readable, thereby eliminating any question that might exist. The word "one" will not be superimposed over the number "1", for example. In fact, the use of words representing the denomination will be decreased, since people can respond more quickly and correctly to a denomination given as a numeral. Also, the font we will use will be a more readable font, something that is easier understood at a quick glance.

The different values for the currency will be printed in different colors. A one dollar bill, for example, will not be the same color as a five dollar bill. We hope that this will reduce errors that people might make in giving people the wrong amount of cash.

Font

One of the important features of our bills is the font, or typeface, which will be used to denote important information on the bill. For information which needs to be viewed quickly and correctly, a font without a serif is suggested. Serifs are the little lines and markings which make text more stylized. Here is an example of a serif font and a sans serif font.

Serif

Sans Serif

The text must also be large enough to be easily read. While it is important to have text which is easily readable, we also recognize the historic significance of some information on a bill. For these purposes, it would be appropriate to use a more stylized, old-fashioned font.

Color

Colors have a variety of functions, both psychological and functional, in currency. Colors on the bills should be relatively uniform, or at least compatible, to create an acceptable (and perhaps stunning) visual appearance. On the other hand, information which must stand out -- for example, the denomination of a particular bill -- must be contrasted with the rest of the bill.

If, for example, we had a bill colored with light blues and greens, we might want sharp, striking black text to denote the value of the currency, as opposed to white text, which may be too light to be seen, or a blue, which may be too similar to the rest of the bill to be noticed. These two problems relate to intensity and saturation. Intensity is the brightness of a particular color. The difference between dark blue and light blue, for example, is a difference in intensity. The human eye has an easier time distinguishing between two colors of different intensity.

Saturation is the strength of the color. A low-saturated color is dull and grayish, and a high-saturated color is bright and vivid. The human eye has difficulty distinguishing between colors of similar saturation; for example, a very saturated magenta is hard to distinguish from a very saturated red. Even colors which are vastly different in hue, which is the color of the color (for example, blue or red or green) are difficult to distinguish when their saturation is similar; they seem to vibrate against each other.

The next two examples show the colors that are hard to distinguish, or the ones that simply do not go together:

This, however, looks much better:

Color blindness should not be an issue in our currency, since none of the colors we plan to use are absolutely crucial to recognizing a bill. Colored bills are also more difficult to counterfiet, since an additional production process must be used to colorize the bills.

Size and Shape

Since we are redesigning the entire bill, we must also consider motivations for keeping or changing the current size of US paper currency. We decided to keep the current size, since it is an ideal size for handling and storing. Our options would be a more square bill, or a more elongated bill. A square bill would be difficult to pass to others in transactions (indeed, when you give someone a bill, don't you give it to them long-ways?). Although it is not a psychological issue, square bills would be difficult to give to machinery, since they could be inserted up to eight different ways.

An excessively long bill would be difficult to handle as well. Additional length gives more than can be caught or get stuck to stuff, thereby increasing the likelihood that the bill would be torn.

Balance

We want to keep the items on the bill balanced. The items include the denomination, the portrait, and other parts of the graphics of the bill. The reason for this is that it would not make any side of the bill any more distracting. Also, keeping the numerals representing the denomination of the currency to the outsides while keeping a larger numeral on the inside enables the user to identify the denomination at a glance by looking at the bill face-on or by flipping through a billfold. Balance incorporates aethetics as well as psychology: an unbalanced bill just wouldn't look good.

Tactile

One of the important reasons for our dissatisfaction with the current design of the US banknotes is the fact that there is no mechanism that would help people who are visually impared to recognize the denomination of a bill. In owr diesign we will provide such a mechanism. The edges of the bills of different denominations will have different texture, which will enable a blind person, or even a person with a good vision, who happens to be in a poorly lighted place to determine which bill is which.

Security features

As we said before, counterfeiting countermeasures is one of the major concerns of currency design. Banknotes of any country contain some sort of features that make replicating them difficult.

To make our bills we will use a special type of paper, similar to the one that is currently used for US currency. It is actually a cotton and linen paper blend that is very difficult to reproduce. Also, we will use interwoven red and blue fibers the absence of which in a fake bill will make it esily identifiable. A similar idea is behind the security threads that are used in $100 bills today

Another security feature is the image of the bill itself. Just as the currently used banknotes our bills will have intricate lines and designs that cannot be reproduce by photocopying. In particular, the new bills would have an miniature image of Mikky Mouse's head.

Also the new banknotes will have miniature lettering, that cannot be seen without a magnifying device, and which will look like a simple line when photocopied.

We will also use a special ink, which cannot be manufactured without the proper equipment and the knowledge of the secret formula.

Another feature that is used in banknotes of may countries is watermarks, that can be seen if the bill is held to the light. On our bills we will have a watermark containing the image of the flag of the United States.

The final, and the most "secure" security feature that our bills will contain is a hologram. Holograms are virtually impossible to create without sophisticated equipment.

If any of these features is missing or corrupted, one can safely conclude that the bill is fake.


Last modified: Tue Dec 17 17:22:04 EST 1996