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 Rios on currency design and role in US history (Click to Expand)

x
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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7768
JPY
USD
108.84
GBP
USD
0.6124
CAD
USD
1.0999
INR
USD
61.042

Rates may not be current.