Series 2009 New $100 Bill Not in Circulation: Inspections and Printing Still In Process

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As of the date of this post, the series of 2009 $100 bill has yet to enter general circulation. It is the last of the new colorized designs with enhanced security features to be released by the Treasury, and we’re all eagerly awaiting its appearance. Unfortunately, this particular note has experienced some production problems and setbacks.

So much for the “Greenback”…

According to NewMoney.gov, the series of 2004 $20 bill was the first newly colorized note issued. It began circulating on October 9, 2003. Since then, the new $10, $5, and $50 notes have been rolled out. Despite modern advances in printing technology, it still takes a considerable amount of time to get new notes into circulation. Additionally, the Treasury must ensure that cash oriented businesses – banks, grocery stores, gas stations, casinos, bars, and restaurants – are adequately educated about the new notes. Even though the release of the colorized $20 bill was well publicized, a few merchants went to their local banks with notes that looked “suspicious”, only to be told that they were indeed authentic and examples of  the United States’ new currency design .

Many paper money enthusiasts were dismayed with the new notes: the classic black front and green back of United States paper money was forever changed in order to thwart counterfeiters. The new $20 bill is the most demure in appearance of all the new notes, and this is partially why it was issued first. It takes time for people to get used to change.  🙂  Meanwhile, the funky looking $10 bill and flag draped $50 bill are definitely eye catching. It seemed the United States finally caught up to other advanced countries that had been using fully colorized currency for decades.

…but where is the new $100 bill?

In brief, it’s not out yet.  The following is an example of the new note in Specimen form. No genuine series of 2009 $100 notes are in circulation. If you are handed a $100 bill that bears a resemblance to the new design, there’s a good chance it’s fake.

Series 2009 $100 Note Specimen
Series 2009 $100 Note Specimen – As of January 8, 2013, this note is not in general circulation.

According to Treasury officials, billions of these new notes were printed, slated to be released on schedule. Sadly, quality control procedures fell by the wayside during the printing process: approximately 1.1 billion of the new $100 bills were creased and deemed ineligible for circulation. Officials traced the problem back to the Crane Paper Company of Boston – the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s official and only paper source – in addition to mechanical printing problems. Circulating damaged examples of the new $100 bills would have created havoc and confusion. Most importantly, the highly advanced design features of the note would have been compromised.

As a result, manual inspections of the 1.1 billion bad notes began shortly after their original circulation date. Treasury workers have identified the problem and rectified the printing process, but are still left to sort through a mountain of damaged notes. After manual inspections discerned a pattern to the creasing error, Treasury tentatively suggested that an automated process would be developed to hasten the inspection work.

The exact status of this ongoing saga is still unclear, and probably best left unknown in the interests of security.

What’s so great about the new $100 bill?

The government’s newmoney.gov website details the features of the new $100 bill. Like the redesigned notes previously released, this note is multicolored, has micro printing, color shifting ink, a watermark, and faint representations of the note’s denomination printed in yellow ink on the front and back. Currency junkies will be happy to know that notes printed at the Fort Worth, Texas, B.E.P. facility are identified with a prominent “F.W.” on the obverse. The notes are still printed using the time tested intaglio process, creating a raised feel to the ink. The format of the the serial number and Federal Reserve District identification is the same as the other new notes.

There are also a few features unique to the new $100 bill:

  • On the reverse of the note, the vignette of Independence Hall is still present, except it is engraved looking at the back of the landmark, NOT the front.
  • An image of a quill, representing the signing of the Declaration of Independence, is engraved to the right of Franklin’s portrait.
  • The background of the note is pale blue.
  • A large gold “100” is now on the reverse, clearly distinguishing the note’s denomination from other contemporary examples of USA currency.
  • A large blue strip is interwoven into the note’s paper, seen to the right of Franklin’s portrait.
  • The first use of a hologram on paper money in the history of the United States is on the new $100 bill, to the bottom right of Franklin’s portrait. This hologram is extremely difficult to replicate.

All in all, it is an impressive feat of workmanship that will stymie the attempts of most counterfeiters attempting to mass-produce bum notes.

Any collecting possibilities?

As stated above, Treasury and the Federal Reserve have been vague and tight lipped about the exact status of the new $100 bill and its eventual circulation date. Supposedly all the creased notes are housed at the Fort Worth B.E.P. compound in a giant warehouse, waiting to be sorted out.

Some of the bad notes might sneak into general circulation, and would be nice catches for any collector if the crease can be authenticated as a byproduct of the original printing process. This opportunity would be short lived, however, since most notes naturally become creased as they get circulated and handled. Someone would literally have to grab a fresh pack of these notes in order to have a crack at getting a genuine B.E.P. error.

The other important factor is the actual “rarity” of the error, most likely to be determined years after collectors have a chance to analyze the market and track sales activity. If thousands of the creased $100 notes are known, it won’t be particularly valuable.

Finally, what about star notes? Did the B.E.P. print a billion star notes to replace the notes damaged during the initial run? If so, 2009 $100 stars won’t be considered rare unless millions spontaneously combust. The more likely scenario: the Federal Reserve will circulate notes with normal serial numbers first, and print star notes later once notes naturally return to the Treasury as damaged or otherwise unusable. The value of a 2009 $100 star note will be hit or miss until exact production numbers are known.

Keep your fingers crossed. With any luck, you’ll get your hands on a real 2009 $100 bill before AARP sends you its welcome letter! 🙂

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