Roy Exum: Benjamin Makes A Debut

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The nation’s government may well be in a partial shutdown but that didn’t keep the newest “Benjamins” – what $100 bills bearing the likeness of Benjamin Franklin have been called in modern times -- from coming out of hiding on Tuesday. Easily the most sophisticated piece of currency ever produced, the first of 3.5 billion notes went into circulation yesterday as the Federal Reserve armored trucks began delivering the redesigned bills to banks and other financial institutions.

The new $100 bills have a 3-D security ribbon intricately woven into each of them and the image of a small liberty bell, inside an inkwell, that changes colors when held up to the light. As a Fed spokesperson said yesterday, “They are easier to authenticate and harder to replicate,” which is government-speak for “very hard to counterfeit.”

In 2003 the United States added color to its smaller bills but the $100 bill is the monetary superstar. An early try in 2010 left creases in the printed bills so more safeguards were added and the “2013 series” of the 100s, which is printed in Washington and Forth Worth, Texas, is a fascinating piece of money.

Believe it or not, three out of every four new $100 bills leave the United States almost immediately and never come back home. Instead they are the currency-of-choice on the international black market and readily traded in every country in the world. Experts believe the new 100 and 500 Euro notes may replace the $100 bill but the revolutionary 3-D security ribbon – a bright blue ribbon made up of hundreds of thousands of “micro-lenses” in each new $100 bill – gives the United States money even more appeal.

The new $100 bills will be available in local banks within a matter of days but – never fear -- the last design, in circulation since 1996 is still legal tender, as is any American currency. The $100 bill is the largest note available to the public after higher-denomination bills were taken out of circulation in 1996. Oh, a $500 bill, a $1,000 bill, a $5,000 bill and a $10,000 bill – if you have hoarded any -- are still good but the minute they are circulated back into the Federal Reserve the old bills are immediately retired.

Right now there are about $900 billion of $100 bills in circulation. As the bills become tattered and frayed, they will be replaced by the newer design but experts tell us the normal life span for a $100 bill is approximately 15 years (a $10 bill only lasts 4.2 years). U.S. bills, made by the Crane & Co. paper company, are designed to endure being folded – get this – up to 8,000 times before they break.

As a matter of fact, it would take 20.4 pounds of Benjamins to make up a stack of $1 million and when the bills arrive at banks they are in stacks – you guessed it -- of 100, each pile worth $10,000 with a yellow band wrapper.

On the back of the new bill are the words, “In God We Trust” (contrary to rumor) and there is a large “100” dominating the right side to help the visually-impaired.  A microscopic look would reveal red and blue fibers in the paper, which is made of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen. To the left of Independence Hall on the back of the bill, a watermark of Franklin’s face will appear in the light and there is microprinting on the back of the bill as well – you’ll need a magnifying glass to find “United States of America,” “USA 100,” “One Hundred USA” and “100s.”

The inkwell on the front has a quill watermark that goes with it, a salute to the Franklin and the nation’s Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence, and in the lower right on the front of the bill is a larger 100 than in the other three corners of the note that turns from green to copper when you tilt the bill. Then there is raised printing – you can feel Franklin’s shoulder, for example.

How much did the bill cost? There is about a 60 percent increase over the 7.8 cents it cost to manufacture our last $100 bill. Each new one costs 12.5 cents to make but the counterfeit measures are important. Counterfeit bills are hard to trace -- remember, most are being held overseas – and the foreign demand for the new style currency is expected to be brisk.

All in all, from the $1 bill to the $2, $5, $10, $20, and $50, there are 33 billion paper notes from the United States in circulation today. One-dollar bills (“Washingtons,”) are the most popular with 10.3 billion in use but “Benjamins” are solidly in second place and the distinctive new measures are expected to increase demand.

One more thing: traces of cocaine can be found on 80 percent of $100 bills circulated in the United States. Obviously not that many C-notes are used to snort drugs but the experts say when the bills are often stacked together, a slight residue can soon be found on four out of five.

royexum@aol.com


Smith Shouldn't Be Paid To Leave

Taxpayers of Hamilton County should take note that a majority of the members of the school board are getting ready to give Rick Smith the buyout that he wants.  Do you agree that someone should be paid for taking the coward's way out?  Rick Smith should be fired for cause. Not paid to leave.  If you don't want the board members to pay him off, call or write ... (click for more)

Randy Johnston Has The Necessary Experience And Leadership Skills

I worked in the Assessor's Office from 1974 until retiring in 2013. I served in a management position as director of Commercial and Industrial Property from 1980 until retiring. I essentially answered directly to the assessor during the last 33 years of my 39 year career in that office. I had over 42 years of experience in the appraisal business. Former Chief Deputy and Director ... (click for more)

Criminal Defense Attorneys Seek Chest X-Ray, Barrel As Evidence In 34-Year-Old Murder Case

In the 34-year-old unsolved murder case that recently spotlighted Billy Hawk as the prime suspect, criminal defense attorneys are seeking forensic proof, which does not change with time, to prove Hawk’s innocence. During Monday’s discovery motion, filed on behalf of the defense to obtain certain evidence, defense attorney Jim Logan requested the victim’s chest X-ray be submitted ... (click for more)

Brandon Bettis, 25, Arrested For Home Invasion; 2 Other Suspects Being Sought

Brandon Bettis, 25, was arrested after a home invasion early Monday morning, and two other suspects are being sought. Chattanooga Police responded to the 1100 block of Thomas Lane at 6:30 a.m. on the report of a home invasion robbery.  The suspects entered the home of the victims, James Shrum, 47, and Hillary Schooley, 25.   The victims were wakened and threatened ... (click for more)

Red Bank Beats Pigeon Forge For A-AA State Duals Title

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Red Bank Lions finally reached the mountain top as far as high school wrestling is concerned. The Lions had finished second to Bradley in the State Duals back in 1995 and it had been 16 years since the Lions had been involved, but they put an exclamation point on a strong dual-meet season by winning the Class A-AA title here at Williamson County Agricultural ... (click for more)

Bradley Whips Soddy Daisy For AAA State Duals Title

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Bradley Bears have won more state duals titles than anyone and they added another one after going four years without being in the championship round. It’s been a remarkable season for the Bears, who beat region-rival Soddy Daisy by a 52-21 margin for their latest state title. Saturday night’s   match was never really close as the Bears had a ... (click for more)