New $100 bill has more Ben, more safeguards

new $100 bill unveiledHis stringy hair still needs a wash, but it's a bigger, better, safer Benjamin Franklin on the refurbished $100 bill introduced today. The bill goes into circulation in February, tricked out with new security measures that might have pleased the tinkerer in Franklin, a Founding Father who invented the lightning rod.

A blue 3-D ribbon on the front casts images of bells and 100s that shift from one to the other when the bill is tilted. The "Bell in the Inkwell" changes from copper to green as you alter your perspective. See for yourself.

Of course all the high-tech snazziness is to counter the counterfeiters -- especially important considering that the $100 bill, last redesigned in 1996, is the largest denomination still produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It remains the most counterfeited note outside of the United States, according to the Treasury.

"To ensure a seamless introduction of the new $100 note into the financial system, we will continue global public education of retailers, financial institutions and industry organizations to ensure that consumers and merchants are aware of the new security features," Treasurer Rosie Rios told WalletPop and every other outlet that read the government memo.

The currency retains its '90s-embedded protection of a watermark portrait of Franklin and a color-shifting numeral 100. The new and old technology make for easy examination to separate the authentic from the bogus.

"Protect yourself -- it only takes a few seconds to check the new $100 note and know it's real," Larry R. Felix, director of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, said in the release, which accompanied an unveiling ceremony headed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The Treasury didn't forget to give Franklin and the tableau its version of cosmetic surgery. Franklin's round countenance occupies more of the bill, and we now get a rear view of Independence Hall. Also adding to the aesthetics are phrases from the Declaration of Independence and the quill used to sign the document.

Those of you who have one or more of the 6.5 billion $100 bills currently in circulation can relax. They'll remain legal tender.
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