A sheet of uncut $100 bills is inspected during the printing process at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas, last month. The new bills debut Tuesday.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve will begin circulating a new $100 bill Tuesday with some modern and colorful anti-counterfeiting features, after overcoming problems that postponed its debut for more than 2½ years.
In addition to traditional safeguards like a paper blend that would be difficult to duplicate, the redesigned note will have two new features: a three-dimensional blue strip with images that appear to move when the note is tilted, and an image of a copper inkwell containing a holographic bell whose color changes when tilted.
The note is the final U.S. currency denomination to undergo the “New Color of Money” face lift that started with the $20 note in 2003, introducing subtle hues and other security features to paper currency as part of efforts to stay ahead of counterfeiters.
“It only takes a few seconds for people — if they know what they’re looking for — to know what they’re looking at is genuine,” said Michael J. Lambert, associate director of the Federal Reserve.
The $100 bill is an especially hot item on the global stage: The Federal Reserve estimates that one-half to two-thirds of $100 notes in circulation are abroad at any given time, making them one of the nation’s largest exports.
As a result, the $100 bill is the most commonly counterfeited note outside the United States. Lambert said officials at the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and the Secret Service had devoted extra time to redesigning it and spreading the word — including on newmoney.gov, which is available in 23 languages — with that in mind.
The note took more than a decade to develop. It was originally scheduled for release in February 2011, but about four months before its debut, the Federal Reserve said a printing problem had caused some notes to be creased and thus unfit for circulation. Investigating and resolving the issue meant there would not have been enough bills ready by February. Another printing problem caused ink to smear.
The inspector general’s office at the Treasury Department released a report in 2012 attributing the delay to “a production failure that potentially could have been avoided and has already resulted in increased costs.”
Experts say the efforts appear to have paid off. “I would say it’s absolutely worthwhile to do whatever it takes to make sure that we have the best currency that we can,” said Benjamin Mazzotta of Tufts University, an expert on the cost of currency.
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