News / Economy

US Money Factory Prints Distinctive Dollars

US Money Factory Prints Distinctive Dollarsi
X
February 10, 2014 1:20 PM
American dollars are a popular currency both in the United States and around the world. So it's critical to ensure that they're distinctive and trustworthy. That's the job of a government agency that's been printing American bank notes for more than 150 years. VOA's Julie Taboh visited its Washington headquarters to see first-hand how American money is made.
American dollars are a popular currency both in the United States and around the world. Ensuring that the bills are distinctive and trustworthy is the job of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, a government entity that's been printing American bank notes for more than 150 years.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, within the U.S. Department of the Treasury, designs and produces millions of U.S. bank notes each day at its facilities in Texas and in Washington, making it one of the largest currency printing operations in the world.

The agency was established in 1862 under President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.

Creating a United States bank note from start to finish is a complex process, according to Bureau Director Larry Felix

“It looks like ink on paper, and it is ink on paper, but there are an extraordinary amount of systems that are on that bank note,” he said.

The process

During the first stage of printing, the background color is applied. On a $20 bill for example, the blue eagle in the background and the subtle orange and green coloring, are put on by the bureau’s offset printing.

A worker at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing examines sheets of US currency before they are made into wallet-ready bills. (J. Taboh/VOA)A worker at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing examines sheets of US currency before they are made into wallet-ready bills. (J. Taboh/VOA)
​Next, the notes are pressed onto inked, engraved plates. Intaglio printing is used for the portraits, vignettes, scrollwork, numerals and lettering that is unique to each denomination.

“Just about anyone who produces a bank note wants to put Intaglio on that note. It gives bank notes that distinctive touch, that feel,” said Felix. "The United States puts more Intaglio than almost any other country because we put Intaglio in the front and on the back.”

The next stage involves the letter press printing process where the serial numbers and seals are added.

​“So we put these features in these notes to assist people, to make sure that they can tell if the note is real,” said Felix. “And every step of the way it also helps machines to identify if that note is real or not.”

Counterfeit threats

Regarding the issue of counterfeiting, Felix said the bureau is always evaluating the threats against bank notes in terms of digital and other evolving technologies “that would have an impact on the future of the integrity of a bank note. We’ve anticipated those threats and designed those features into the bank notes.”  

Rosie Riosi
X
February 10, 2014 8:13 PM
Rosie Rios on currency design and role in US history (Click to Expand)
While there’s no such thing as a counterfeit-proof note, Felix says counterfeit notes in circulation is less than 1/100th of 1 percent.

“That means,” he said, “that the designs are effective and the United States Secret Service and our partners at the Federal Reserve are very effective in ensuring that U.S. currency rates remains strong and used worldwide and widely accepted.”

​Rosie Rios is the treasurer of the United States and has direct oversight over both the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint, which produces coins. They are separate bureaus within the Treasury.

Rios' signaturealong with that of the secretary of the Treasuryis stamped on all U.S. bank notes during their time in office.

While the percentage of counterfeit notes in circulation remains very small, she says the government continues to redesign American currency to stay ahead of advancing technologies and tech-savvy counterfeiters.

She pointed to the newly designed $100 note as an example.

“So on the overt features, the features you can see, one of the first things you notice about this new $100.00 bill which was issued in October 2013, is that it has this blue, 3-D security ribbon.”

The ribbon, along with other new security features, makes it easier for the public to authenticate and more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate.

“U.S. currency is trusted world-wide. People recognize it,” said Rios. “So we want to make sure that we produce something that’s trusted, that’s secure, that’s safe and people can continue to use in the future.”

Continued demand

And if anyone is wondering whether cash transactions are becoming a thing of the past, Rios says there’s no need for concern.

“Even though there’s been this enormous amount of electronic transactions over the last few years, the amount of currency that we’re producing in absolute numbers has been increasing,” she said. “So we’re still producing on average seven billion notes per year."

Sixty percent of those notes are in circulation outside the United States, currency, said Rios, that will be in demand for many years to come.​

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8050
JPY
USD
117.90
GBP
USD
0.6376
CAD
USD
1.1259
INR
USD
61.655

Rates may not be current.