Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

Security Features in U.S. Paper Currency

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

It’s not enough for money to simply serve its basic function as legal tender, it’s also got to be smart—and increasingly so. Each time bills are redesigned they gain security features that make them more and more difficult to reproduce, and while U.S. paper currency has its fair share of detractors, there are some pretty awesome design elements at work when it comes to what’s in our wallets.

THE PAPER

Paper money isn’t actually paper at all—at 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, it’s essentially fabric, making it much more durable than actual paper would be. It takes about 4000 double folds before a bill will tear.

Graphic by Chloe Effron

A single company has provided the paper for U.S. bills since 1879—Crane & Co. in Dalton, Mass. The company has a storied place in U.S. history. In 1776, it was called Liberty Paper Mill, and serviced Paul Revere when he needed to print notes for paying American Revolution soldiers. 

Finally, "greenbacks" they may be, but embedded throughout Federal Reserve Notes are tiny red and blue fibers. Counterfeiters often try to simulate these by printing tiny red and blue lines on the paper.

HIDDEN FEATURES

In a $5, $10, $20, or $50 bill, the paper contains a security thread and a watermark. To see them, you have to hold the note to the light, and the placement and style are different for each bill. The security thread glows a specific color when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Graphic by Chloe Effron

The $100 bill also has a wider, 3D holographic blue security ribbon woven into the paper to the right of Franklin’s portrait. If you tilt the note back and forth you can see the bells change to 100s, and move side to side. This feature adds a highly advanced level of security that’s difficult to simulate.


PRINTING

The redesigned $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills go through several stages of printing in order to create the finished notes. Each bill is printed four times on three different kinds of printing machinery. All bills utilize green ink on the backs, but faces use black, color-shifting, metallic ink, and other inks which are specially formulated and blended by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

In 2003, with the introduction of the redesigned $20s, subtle background colors were added to the currency to enhance the security. For these denominations, offset printing is the first printing that occurs on the “blank” paper. They’re printed using the BEP's Simultan presses, which are over 50 feet long and weigh over 70 tons. They're capable of printing 10,000 sheets per hour, and operators will regularly examine sheets to make sure the colors are remaining constant.

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Expedia Just Made Its Vacation Bundle Deal a Lot More Convenient
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Saving money by booking your hotel and flight together sounds like a no-brainer—until it actually comes time to do it. Picking the right accommodations for a trip requires a lot of research, and if you're in a rush to do it at the same time that you're comparing airfares, you may end up stuck with a choice you regret. Now, Expedia is taking the stress out of its vacation bundle offer by letting customers book flights and accommodations separately. As Travel + Leisure reports, customers can take advantage of the deal as long as they choose a hotel sometime between booking a flight (or rental car) and their first day of vacation.

Previously, Expedia customers looking to save hundreds by bundling had to purchase their plane tickets and reserve hotel rooms at the same time. Not only does that require a lot of planning in a short timeframe, but it also requires you to pay a significant chunk of your vacation budget up front. And while international flights are cheapest when booked months in advance, the same can't always be said for hotels, which sometimes show their best prices at the last minute.

Expedia's update relieves a lot of the pressure from the decision-making process. When users book their flight, they will now see an option labeled “Expedia Add-On Advantage.” If they also plan to find their hotel through Expedia, they can select the offer and reap the savings, even if they don't book it immediately. According to the company, customers can save up to 43 percent on hotel prices as long as they book a room before their flight leaves.

Gearing up for your next vacation? If you want to travel on a budget this summer—or any time of year—we suggest following these tips.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
$2.5 Million in World War II-Era Cash Discovered Beneath Winston Churchill's Former Tailor's Shop
Evening Standard, Getty Images
Evening Standard, Getty Images

A valuable secret has been hiding beneath the floorboards of a sporting goods store in the UK since World War II. As the BBC reports, about £30,000 in roughly 80-year-old British bank notes was unearthed by a renovation project at the Cotswold Outdoor store in Brighton. Adjusting for inflation, their value would be equal to roughly $2.5 million today.

Owner Russ Davis came across the hidden treasure while tearing out decades-worth of carpet and tiles beneath the property. What he initially assumed was a block of wood turned out to be a wad of cash caked in dirt. Each bundle held about £1000 worth of £1 and £5 notes, with about 30 bundles in total.

The bills are badly damaged, but one surviving design element holds an important clue to their history. Each note is printed in blue, the color of the emergency wartime currency first issued by the Bank of England in 1940.

At the time the money was buried, the property was home to the famous British furrier and couturier Bradley Gowns. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife, Lady Clementine Churchill, were reportedly regular customers.

The reason the fortune was stowed beneath the building in the first place remains a mystery. Davis imagines that it might have come from a bank robbery, while Howard Bradley, heir to the Bradley Gowns family business, suspects it might have been stashed there as a getaway fund in anticipation of a Nazi invasion, as he told the New York Post.

The hoard will remain in the possession of the Sussex police as more details on the story emerge.

[h/t BBC]

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