New $100 Bill in Circulation Tuesday, What's New?

Andrew Klips |

The government can’t get economic data to the public because of the partial shutdown, but it did finally manage to get shipments of new $100 bills out to banks on Tuesday. Incorporating a series of changes meant to make the bill fondly known as a “Benjamin” or a “C-note” more difficult to counterfeit and easier to authenticate, the design was introduced three years ago and is finally done.  Depending on how close a bank to the Federal Reserve, locations should start receiving the freshly designed currency this afternoon.  The difficulty in manufacturing the new bills (creases and ink smearing) delayed the release by more than two years.  The old design of the $100 bill, which changes included making Ben Franklin’s head bigger and adding a watermark, were in circulation since March 1996.

The Federal Reserve is not funded by Congressional appropriations, thus it is still up and running and not affected by the shutdown.

The latest version is not only more colorful, but adds several security features. 

1.     There is an embedded security thread that runs vertically next the U.S. Federal Reserve System stamp on the left side of the bill that reads “USA 100” when held up to light.

2.     There is a different watermark of the portrait of Benjamin Franklin next to the large image of Franklin that is visible from both sides of the bill when held up to light.  A micro-printed “USA 100” in printed in the blank space around the watermark.

3.     Blue 3-D security ribbon:  woven into the bill (not printed) are bells and “100”s that appear to move depending on which direction the bill is moved (up and down or side to side)

4.     A bell in an inkwell changes color (from copper to green) to make the bell appear or disappear when the note is tilted.

5.     The “100” in the lower right corner on the front of the bill changes from copper to green when note is tilted.

6.     There is a small printed “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” on Ben Franklin’s jacket collar.

7.     “ONE HUNDRED USA” is micro-printed large golden quill on the front and small 100s at the borders of the bill.

8.     The back of the bill features a large gold-colored “100” designed for people with visual impairments.

9.     Not only does the $100 bill still feature raised printing, but feeling the right shoulder of Ben Franklin feels rough because of enhanced intaglio printing (a type of printing that uses an etched or engraved plate where the plate is smeared with ink and wiped clean and the ink left in the recesses making the print).

The central bank reportedly has 3.5 million of the bills printed (costing about 8 cents apiece to produce).  The new C-note is the most frequently counterfeited U.S. currency, so the Fed didn’t pull any strings in making the new bill the most complex currency in U.S. history.  The $900 billion-worth of existing $100 bills in circulation today will only be phased out slowly as worn-out bills make their way back to the central bank.

The government has a website at for those interested in learning more.

In a point-to-dollar conversion, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is lower by one new Franklin in Tuesday trading, shedding 100 points with about three hours left in trading and looking to be on its way to falling in 11 of the last 14 sessions.  The S&P 500 is off by 13 points and the Nasdaq is having one of its worst days in 2013; down by 61 points.



[Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

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