Facts about the $100 bill:
- In 1969 Richard Nixon withdrew from circulation the higher-value notes – $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 – to combat organised crime. This left the $100 bill as the largest US banknote.
- The $100 bill is the second-most common bill in circulation, behind the $1 bill. 77% of the value of all US currency is in the form of $100 bills.
- A $100 bill has many nicknames: C-note, Hundo, Hunksy, Franklin, Benjamin, Ben, Benjy, Benny…
- But what about 100 bucks? In the ‘Wild West’ buckskin was a common currency used by Native American Indians. When currency replaced barter the term ‘buck’ persisted.
- The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has two facilities, one in Washington, DC and the other in Fort Worth, Texas. These produce a total of 38 million notes each day, at a face value of approximately $541 million; 95% of these new notes are printed to replace damaged/tatty notes already in circulation.
- Currency paper is composed of 25% linen and 75% cotton. Red and blue synthetic fibres of various lengths are distributed evenly through the paper. The notes are machine-washable and will take about 4,000 forward-backward folds before tearing.
- The new $100 bill costs the Federal Reserve just 12.5 cents to produce (the old style cost only 8.7 cents). It’s the inscription ‘In God we trust’ and the promise from the US Treasury that make it worth $100.
- 80% of US banknotes bear traces of cocaine, but 95% carry bacteria. The flu virus can live on a banknote for ten days!
- In 1960 the Federal Reserve had $177.41 in cash circulating for every person living in the US. By 1990 that amount had increased to $1,062.86 per capita. In 1995 it was shown that $200-250 billion of the $375 billion issued US currency was in fact held outside the USA,
- The US Secret Service organisation was founded in 1865 during the American Civil War specifically to combat counterfeiting. Today’s Secret Service reports that less than 1/100th of 1% of US currency is reported as being counterfeit each year, predictably it is the $100 note that is the most copied.
- If you had $10 billion and spent $1 for every second of every day, it would take 317 years for you to spend it all.
My upcoming thriller follows a $100 bill as it circumnavigates the globe and witnesses the break-up of an international crime network.
Here is an excerpt, the authorities are setting up their sting operation:
[Bill] “used surgical gloves as he eased open the mustard-coloured wrapper, taking extreme care not to leave any sign of his work. It was to his extreme credit that nowhere in his thinking did he calculate that this single bundle of one hundred $100 notes represented a fifth of his annual gross salary – and that was before tax!
He took out each crisp new bill and carefully ran a special pen along the line of Benjamin Franklin’s collar. It left no visible mark on the note – to view the line required the use of a very particular light source. He paused to switch one on and checked that they had all been successfully marked.
He paused to settle himself before reinserting the bills into the wrapper, carefully ensuring he returned them to their previous state.
‘You’re the banker. Why is it the $100 note shows a picture of someone who never even made it to president?’
Philip, the cash management officer, was charged by the bank to watch over Bill’s work. He replied, ‘I read somewhere it was Ben Franklin who pressed for the States to circulate paper money of its own while we were still a colony. Britain banning it was another spark for our move to declare independence.’
‘And there was I thinking it was all about the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party! Not much of a massacre though with only five dead.’ “
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