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It’s all about the Benjamins
May 1, 2013 - Ilsa Matthes
Does anybody else remember when money was green? I know it’s been a while. Unless you count singles or old bills you’re so happy to find in the pockets of moth-hole-ridden coats.
Your face as you look into your wallet, however, could be green.
Starting on October 8 a new $100 bill will begin circulating. If you’re lucky enough to be holding a new $100 bill, you might be surprised to see a lot of shiny new bells and whistles. I mean that literally. There’s a copper bell. When you move the bill it changes color, because it’s printed with shiny ink.
Unfortunately, the bill doesn't whistle.
There’s also blue holographic ribbon, some watermark images, raised printing, and a nifty trick you can do with a black light — all designed to make your money safer.
I’m all for safe money. I’m just not looking forward to the day when I have to explain the term “greenback” or spend a significant part of my day explaining to a six-year-old why Monopoly money and real money are not interchangeable.
“It’s not holographic, Sweetie.”
Is green not a safe color? What makes purple so much safer for my fives? Why are my tens orange, yellow, and red? Do my twenties really need to be peach?
I spent some time on the government money launch site, NewMoney.gov trying to find out. Apparently the answer is that the different background colors are designed to help differentiate the denominations.
I will be the first to admit, I have trouble with numbers. My brain likes to shift them around on me. All my friends will corroborate this — it’s the reason I don’t call bingo.
That said, I am perfectly capable of telling the difference between a $1 bill and a $10 bill issued in the early nineties. I don’t look in my wallet and think, “I need the orange one!”
Even if I did want the “orange one,” none of the new bills are a solid color, nor are they bright enough to identify them based solely on their hue. Monopoly money is at least consistent — though I never hold on to the orange bills very long.
If we want to color code our money, I say we at least do it in color order. Ones can be green — since no one feels like updating the one dollar bill —, fives yellow, tens orange, twenties red, hundreds purple, etc.
The new hundreds coming in October do have one very useful feature for the common man: gold ink will be used to print “100” in big letters on the back of the new bill to help people with visual impairments. For me this is a much smarter idea than dying bills various pastel shades. It’s also, I suspect, less frustrating for someone who is color blind.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of little, old, myopic ladies signing blank checks or passing the wrong bill to a less than scrupulous contractor — who is probably fixing something that isn’t broken. Since we live in a world where things like that happen every day, large numbers on bills could easily save someone enough money for a month’s medication.
I’m going to have faith that the people who designed this new bill considered all their options, that the new safety features outweigh my traditionalist view of the color of money, and that the new design will stay in circulation for a reasonable period of time.
I also hope that any guy who decides to “flash some cash” at a club choses to use bills smaller than $100. If they don’t, those crazy dance floor lights might reflect off the holographic ribbon or gold ink and blind someone.
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