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Feds unveil new C note

| April 22, 2010 9:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The folks who print America's money have designed a high-tech makeover of the $100 bill complete with disappearing Liberty Bells and magical ribbons.

It's all part of an effort to stay ahead of counterfeiters as copying technology becomes more sophisticated and more dollars flow overseas.

The makeover was unveiled by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke during a ceremony in the Treasury Department's ornate Cash Room on Wednesday.

"As with previous U.S. currency redesigns, this note incorporates the best technology available to make sure we are staying ahead of counterfeiters," Geithner said.

Benjamin Franklin is still on the C-note. But he has been joined by a disappearing Liberty Bell in an inkwell and a bright blue security ribbon composed of thousands of tiny lenses that magnify objects in mysterious ways. Move the bill, and the objects move in a different direction.

The new currency will not go into circulation until Feb. 10 of next year. That will give the government time to educate the public in the United States and around the world about the changes.

"We estimate that as many as two-thirds of all $100 notes circulate outside the United States," said Bernanke, who stressed that the 6.5 billion in $100 bills now in circulation will remain legal tender.

The $100 bill, the highest value denomination in general circulation, is the final bill to undergo this latest round of redesigns. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing began the process in 1996 with an initial round of makeovers.

Those changes were followed in 2003 with a series that added more sophisticated anti-counterfeiting features including splashes of color which have been added to the $20, $50, $10 and $5 denominations. The $1 bill isn't getting a makeover.

All the changes are aimed at thwarting counterfeiters who are armed with ever-more sophisticated computers, scanners and color copiers. The $100 bill is the most frequent target of counterfeiters operating outside the United States while the $20 bill is the favorite target of counterfeiters inside the country.

The government has prepared education resources in 25 languages to inform the public about the design changes and is giving people a chance to view the new bills on its website.

"We wanted the changes to be very obvious, visible and easy to see," said Larry Felix, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The new blue security ribbon will give a 3-D effect to the micro-images that the thousands of lenses will be magnifying. Tilt the note and you will see tiny bells on the ribbon change to 100s as they move.

But that's not all. Tilt the note back and forth and the images will move side to side. Tilt the note side to side and the images will move up and down.

In addition, to the right of Franklin's portrait will be an inkwell that will change color from copper to green when the note is tilted. The movement will also make a Liberty Bell appear and disappear inside the inkwell.

The $100 bill will also feature a quill pen above the inkwell and a pale yellow splash of color on the far right of Franklin's portrait and when this is held up to the light a faint image of Franklin can be seen. In addition, there will be a large gold 100 on the back of the note to help the visually impaired.

The bureau of engraving is preparing recommendations for Geithner on how to comply with a court ruling that the nation's currency needed to offer more features to help the visually impaired but no decisions on those changes have yet been made.

For the redesigned $100, Franklin will remain on the front of the $100 bill and Independence Hall in Philadelphia will remain on the back of the currency although both have been modified in ways aimed at making it harder to produce counterfeit copies of the bills.

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