The (Il)Legality of Scanning Currency

Reproductions of money: Federal laws don’t ban reproducing images of United States currency, but they do restrict how you can legally display those reproductions. According to the Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, Public Law 102-550, Section 411 of Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, you can make and display color reproductions of bills … Continue reading


Supernotes are a certain kind of counterfeit US hundred-dollar bill. They are virtually indistinguishable from a legitimate C-note, which is not at all a good thing. Most batches are not even discovered to be counterfeit until they make it to a Federal Reserve Bank, which has the most advanced screening technology. As with other new species … Continue reading

“The Perfectionist:” Counterfeiting $100 Bills

Wolman, David. “The Perfectionist.” WIRED. June 2012. Artist and printmaker Hans-Jürgen Kuhl, counterfeiter. Sells $250,000 in counterfeit money for 21,600 euros (later, $6.5 million for 533,000 euros). – “forgeries…generally sell at a steep discount because so much of the risk is borne by the buyer. As a consequence, forgery is profitable only on a large scale.” … Continue reading

United States Secret Service

The Secret Service was founded by Abraham Lincoln in 1865 to suppress counterfeiting – a huge problem in America at that time, something like a third of currency was reported to be counterfeit. It became a distinct organization within the Treasury Department in 1883, and began “informal part-time protection of President Cleveland” in 1894. The … Continue reading

Currency Security Technologies

Some definitions for technologies, processes, and other terms involved in the security printing industry. See here for the individual trademarked names that have been given to different proprietary versions of these technologies. The substrate is the material that is being printed on, typically paper. Overt security devices are meant to be easily seen by the naked eye; … Continue reading

Trademarked Currency Security Technologies

A long if not necessarily complete list. Crane: MOTION – “the new standard in optical security features,” “first micro-optic based material ever used in banknotes. MOTION images appear to move in a fascinating and counter-intuitive way, as if floating on a liquid surface. This striking effect is caused by a micro-lens array interacting with a … Continue reading

Early Currency Security Tech

In 1842, Zenas turned management of the company over to two of his sons, Zenas Marshall Crane and James Brewer Crane. Two years later, Zenas Marshall developed a paper that significantly deterred the altering of banknotes. He was able to imbed silk threads vertically into the paper to indicate the note’s denomination: one silk thread … Continue reading