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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8907
JPY
USD
119.77
GBP
USD
0.6496
CAD
USD
1.2492
INR
USD
61.941

Rates may not be current.