August 14, 2013
For the past few years, the Federal Reserve has been preparing to introduce a redesigned hundred-dollar bill into circulation. It will have a Liberty Bell that changes color, a new hidden message on Ben Franklin’s collar, and tiny 3-D images that move when you tilt the bill this way or that. But delay has followed delay. And now again: The New Yorker has learned that another production snafu has taken place at one of the country’s two currency factories, according to a document from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
The cause of the latest blunder is something known as “mashing,” according to Darlene Anderson, a spokeswoman for the bureau. When too much ink is applied to the paper, the lines of the artwork aren’t as crisp as they should be, like when a kid tries to carefully color inside the lines—using watercolors and a fat paintbrush.
This time, recent batches of cash from the Washington, D.C., plant contained “clearly unacceptable” bills intermixed with passable ones, according to a July memo to employees from Larry Felix, the bureau’s director. So the Fed is returning more than thirty million hundred-dollar notes and demanding its money back, Felix wrote. Another thirty billion dollars’ worth of paper sits in limbo awaiting examination, and Fed officials have informed the bureau that they will not accept any hundred-dollar notes made at the Washington, D.C., facility until further notice.