New $100 Bill Unveiled


Even though ordinary people hardly ever receive or spend one, with the number of $100 bills in circulation in the billions it's worth putting the effort into making them extremely secure. With that in mind, the US Treasury today announced a new $100 bill with new security features.

The new bill still looks a lot like the old bill. It still features a portrait of Benjamin Franklin (although the portrait is bigger and is no longer surrounded by an oval) and it still has a vignette of Independence Hall on the back (also bigger and no longer surrounded by an oval). Like the other new currency released in the past few years, the new $100 is subtly colored. (The color isn't considered a security feature, but does make the bill more complex to counterfeit.)

There are two new security features:

3-D Security Ribbon

Running down the front of the bill, just about at the center, is the 3-D security ribbon: the bill's most obvious new security feature.  

It's a broad blue ribbon running just to the right of Franklin's face that displays images of bells and 100s that move and change from one to the other as you tilt the note. It's woven into the paper, not printed on top.

Bell in the Inkwell

At the bottom, just to the left of the color-shifting number 100, is the other new security feature: A copper-colored inkwell  decorated with an image of a bell printed in color-shifting ink. Like the color-shifting number, the bell changes color from copper to green when the bill is tilted, so the image disappears and reappears against the copper-colored background.

Existing security features retained

Three of the existing security features were considered still effective and have been retained:

  • The watermark with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin that matches the image on the front of the bill.
  • The security thread is the same as with the older $100 bills—the same place (to the left of the portrait), the same image (USA 100), and same color of glow under ultraviolet light (red).
  • The color-shifting numeral 100 in the lower right corner of the front of the bill (now, like the other redesigned bills, copper-to-green rather than green-to-black).

Because those are the same as they were, you can go on following the same procedures to spot counterfeit money as before—you simply have the new security features as additional options.

The Treasury's website has a video with the security features in action.

The new bill will start circulating on February 10th, 2011.

[Updated 1 October 2010: The Federal Reserve announced that they were delaying the release of the new $100 bill, because of production difficulties. They don't yet have a new issue date.]

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Guest's picture

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the Treasury secretary is concerned that counterfeiters printing too many $100 bills will hurt the value of US money? 

Philip Brewer's picture

There's some humor potential there. But there is an important difference: When the Fed expands the money supply a little too quickly, everyone takes a small hit. When a counterfeiter passes a bad bill, the guy who ends up with the counterfeit has to eat the whole $100 loss.

So, it's well worth knowing how to use the security features on the money, even if you're also worried about inflation.

Guest's picture

Maybe they should have changed the dismal grim on Franklin's face. It's like he knows that his value is a bit shaky. On the other hand, who knows if money with smiling faces would be helpful...

Guest's picture

hopefully this one won't be compromised.

Guest's picture

This is awesome! Have you seen it Philip?

What was their main purpose for doing this? I understand it was for security purposes but don't you think people will still be able to copy it?

I like the look better! :)

Guest's picture

Stop messing with American Money... It seems to me it's gone well beyond changes for security's sake and is now just become change for change's sake. At a time when the world is losing confidence in the American greenback it seems utterly retarded to go on making the classic greenback unrecognizable.... let alone not even green!!
In the last 10 or so years our pockets' contents have become entirely unrecognizable.
And then there's the VAST amounts of U.S. tax dollars going to re-designing and re-designing our fist full of change. Enough is enough. Give me back my American greenback. I don't believe for one second all the changes were necessary for security's sake, they just let their enthusiasm and wish for control get the better of them and it's about time we stand up and demand our money back and give the world a dollar that it can trust again.... and recognize!!!