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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.