My family and I were at the Greenway in Boston recently. All of the new construction coupled with the gorgeous weather had us staring up and around in wonder. All of us but my 8-year old, who was sharp enough to spot what appeared to be a crisp $100 bill on the ground. My wife thought it was a fake; we don’t handle $100 bills too often and this one had a weird blue line on it and some sparkly looking gold/green inks. I wasn’t so sure. I’d read somewhere once that the simplest giveaway of a fake bill was the paper. Real money is made from cotton and linen, unavailable for purchase. It feels different than common paper. It’s stronger, crisper, and will last for years. The texture is unmistakeable. But what about those other features? Was this indeed some kind of play money?

A quick search online confirmed the authenticity of the bill. In circulation for only a couple years, the new 100s have a bunch of new technical embellishments that took ten years to develop. Among them, a blue security ribbon, a color-changing liberty bell, microprinting, and a new illustration featuring a rear-view of Independence Hall. All of these features were implemented by the Federal Reserve to help thwart counterfeiting efforts.

So unless you’re used to handling $100 bills, don’t overlook any stray, funny-looking monopoly money you come across in the street. Maybe your kid can start a savings account with it.

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  1. Curtis

    An added side note to this blog post: I wasn’t able to scan the note to post as an accompanying graphic. Photoshop wouldn’t let me open the scanned document and apparently has a built-in counterfeiting algorithm. Pretty cool!

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