I had to do some scanning last night, but the scanner’s been off line for a while – a victim of continuing problems on the ‘main computer¹.’ With new drivers in hand, I installed it on the back up machine and then proceeded to do some calibration and tests.
I’ve always been partial to scanning money when setting up a scanner. Money is a good test because of its intricate design. That’s especially true now that bills are designed to be somewhat more difficult to counterfeit.
I found a new style twenty in my wallet. In this twenty, Andrew Jackson is no longer pictured inside an oval frame. There is also a line drawing of an eagle, in blue, on the left side of the front, and the stylize words “TWENTY USA” under the Treasury Department seal.
I threw it on the scanner and then ramped up the resolution. My scanning software said 9600 dpi, though I doubt this scanner is actually capable of resolving detail that fine. I was surprised at some of what I found. In order to make it a little more visible here, I have added contrast and played with levels and colors.
The microprint, which is one of the anti-counterfeit tools, was found in two places. Some was found between Jackson’s arm and the “20” in the lower left corner of the bill. Inside the “0” itself is “USA.” Farther to the right it says “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 20 USA 20 USA.”
There is also writing which borders individual letters in the “TWENTY USA” detail under the Treasury Department seal (see photo above right). In this case, as with the writing in the borders, you’d never notice it unless someone told you. Even knowing, the print is nearly impossible to see and certainly impossible to read without a magnifying glass.
I’m not sure how this helps thwart counterfeiting when the front line of enforcement, cashiers and clerks, can’t see it’s there!
I was surprised that these teeny letters look hand written, as opposed to a formal font. I’m not sure how the plates that produce currency are made, but that probably enters into this equation.
If you look at the word “TWENTY,” also over the seal of the Treasury Department, its interior hatching also looks hand done, as if someone had sketched up their idea for a twenty dollar bill and then filled the detail with a pencil.
From afar, bills look totally finished and exact. It’s only when you really see them up close that you realize they are the product of an era when man created things by hand, not by computer.
¹ – Though I continue to replace parts, I still haven’t found what it is that is causing the computer to spontaneously reboot. I am perilously close to buying a different motherboard, in essence a soul transplant.