Glance at the two bills below and see whether you can easily determine their denominations:
In this case both notes are in perfect condition and clearly visible. What if they are crumpled up in your wallet? This makes the task even more difficult.
At this point Committee on Currency Features Usable by the Visually Impaired has come up with the following proposals to change the design of the US currency:
There are several flaws in these proposals. First of all it does not seem very practical to change the size of the notes. This would mean that all the wallets and cash registers would also need to be changed. This, once again is not very practical.
Devices for the blind to read the denominations of the banknotes also do not seem very practical. It would be much easier and cheaper to provide some features of the bills that can be sensed by touch, and vould signify a denomination.
The use of widespread paper currency is evident in almost every major nation to date. Because of improved technology, counterfeiting procedures have become increasingly more sophisticated which have given rise to inflation and general theft. As a result, national governments have developed several counterfeit protection features to be placed on currency. These features are fundamentally important when assessing the significant changes required for the modification of a currency design.
U.S. currency has had essentially the same size, color and configuration since 1929 which makes it a primary target for counterfeiters. Nearly $135 million worth of bogus bills were confiscated outside the U.S. in 1994, up from just $30 million two years earlier. The problem is especially severe in Asian cities like Hong Kong, where seizures have increased four-fold since 1990. The $100 bill accounts for 60 percent of the U.S. currency in circulation, so invariably it is the note counterfeiters choose to reproduce.
Using the standard $100 US bill, there are several features that make it difficult to illegally reproduce. The portrait on the bill is a lifelike picture distinctly different from the screenlike background. The paper has a very specific feel to it being comprised of a cotton/linen blend. The bill has red and blue fibers woven into it making the paper even more difficult to reproduce. The borders of the bill have intricate crisscrossing lines which are clear and unbroken which easily can be broken or smudged if counterfeited. The "greenback green" ink that is used is made of a secret mixture of pigments that never dries so that it can be rubbed off.
Recent measures in counterfeiting protection include the addition of polyester security threads with the denomination denoted upon it. The use of holographic imaging also provides for a very visible method of determine the legitimacy of a bill. Both security threads and holograms cannot be duplicated through photocopying which is one method of counterfeiting. Miniature lettering in distinct locations on the bill will appear as a straight line to the naked eye and photocopiers as well, but under magnification reveals text. Finally, large picture sizes allow more detail to be added, making it harder to counterfeit. Large sizes are also designed to easily distinguish new bills from old ones and help people who are visually impaired. Shifting the portraits off center allow room for a watermark and reduces wear and tear from being folded.
The measures mentioned above are just a few ways that the U.S. government protects itself against fraud. Counterfeit prevention is a global problem which had led to the development of other methods for determining authenticity. Some foreign banknotes use watermarks and as an addition measure, absorbs ultraviolet light. Intead of polyester threads, metallic threads are placed inside the banknote. Symmetry with artistic features has also been used to deter counterfeiters.
Last modified: Sun Dec 8 12:17:43 EST 1996