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Secrets of Making Money

Program Overview


NOVA explains the reasons for the redesign of U.S. paper currency and describes security features that are embedded in the new $100 bill.

The program:

  • points out that bills with the original design are easy to counterfeit, having been around since 1929 and in circulation worldwide.

  • broadly describes the traditional mode of counterfeiting—from creating a negative to printing the bill.

  • indicates that the Treasury Department is concerned both with casual counterfeiters—who use color copiers and other modern reprographic equipment—and with professional counterfeiters.

  • states that while no single feature will make a bill counterfeit-proof, the Treasury Department hopes that by adding several new features the bill will be more difficult to counterfeit.

  • reviews the new features, which include a security thread with numbers on it denoting a bill's value, a watermark, an enlarged portrait, microprinting and color-shifting ink.

  • outlines the Treasury Department's endurance tests for bills, including simulating exposure to sun, gasoline, washing, drying and crumpling.

Teacher's Guide
Secrets of Making Money
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