Printing Bureau Fudges the Fine Print

By Paige, Sean | Insight on the News, November 10, 1997 | Go to article overview

Printing Bureau Fudges the Fine Print


Paige, Sean, Insight on the News


Big spenders hoping to impress their favorite maitre d' by flashing a wad of crisp new $50 bills hot off the presses of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, or BPE, after an extensive redesign, may just have to wait until the Treasury Department decides what to do with more than $217 million in notes that have printing errors. The bills were rejected by the Federal Reserve because in many the fine concentric lines surrounding the portrait of Ulysses S. Grant were broken. This seemingly minor flaw is a major problem because the lines were touted by Treasury in an $15 million international education campaign as a feature specifically added to thwart counterfeiters, meaning millions of seemingly bogus bills would be hitting the streets, sowing confusion at home ad possible currency riots abroad, according to Treasury officials.

The BPE noticed flaws in the notes during initial production runs in June, but continued the work after making some printing adjustments. In September, officials from the Federal Reserve took their first look and ordered presses stopped. The Treasury is weighing three solution to the problem: Destroy the flawed notes and begin again; buy special equipment capable of segregating good notes from bad; or release the flawed $50 bills after higher-quality notes have been in circulation for a few years. …

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