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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 18, May 2, 2010, Article 25

NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE COMPARING THE OLD AND NEW $100S

Arthur Shippee forwarded this New York Times article which makes comparisons between the current and newly-unveiled 2011 versions of the U.S. $100 bill. -Editor

Last week, the Treasury Department introduced its new $100 bill, a redesign intended to frustrate high-tech counterfeiters when it goes into circulation Feb. 10.

The $100 bill, a favorite of forgers, is not only the highest-value denomination in general circulation, but also the most widely distributed and most counterfeited outside the United States.

Perhaps anticipating the criticism that accompanies anything new, a special-effects-laden “unveiling” video released by Treasury reveals a sensuously undulating $100 note as it enumerates the bill’s security features.

But how does the look of the new $100 bill compare with its predecessor?

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Old: The off-center oval is too large and unbalanced.
New: Adding Franklin's shoulders and removing the background avoids the unbalanced look.

COLOR
Old: The green is elegantly traditional.
New: The shifting-colored hues gives the bill a modern aesthetic.

BACKGROUND AND WATERMARKS
Old: Subtle.
New: Too many and they look like smudges.

COMPOSITION
Old: Comparatively simple, yet the seals, type and other graphic elements seem disjointed and appear random.
New: Many obtrusive graphic elements, including the security bars and watermarks, yet curiously the overall design is more unified.

SECURITY RIBBON AND THREAD
Old: Not there.
New: Necessarily obtrusive. Gives the impression of a credit card or money order.

FILIGREE (THE BORDER AROUND THE BILL)
Old: Classic application gives the note an official banknote aesthetic.
New: Reductivist and minimal application lightens the note and implies modernity but could unwittingly suggest deflation.

NUMERALS
Old: Well positioned in relation to filigree.
New: Smaller is better, but the numbers are not well integrated into the filigree, making them look like an afterthought.

BELL IN INKWELL (IN ORANGE)
Old: Not there.
New: Playful and unnecessary.

DENOMINATION IN WORDS
Old: Elegantly composed as part of the filigree.
New: Squeezed too close to Franklin's forehead.

SERIAL NUMBERS
Old: Clear and unencumbered.
New: Harder to read against watermarks and somewhat less legible for players of liar's poker.

The pole-dancing banknote video was a little much, I thought, but it did serve the purpose of illustrating the color-changing inks and other features. I have to agree that the background looks smudged, but I guess that's the price of counterfeit prevention. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Anatomy of a Benjamin (www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/weekinreview/25considered.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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