Let’s learn how to tell if a 1977 series $100 bill is real or fake. The $100 bill is one of the most counterfeited banknotes in the United States. If you have a 1977 series $100 bill and want to know if it’s real or fake, this comprehensive guide will help you identify authenticity.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Examine the note’s security features like the security thread, watermark, color-shifting ink, microprinting details, and look for blurry areas, mismatched serial numbers, and incorrect details that indicate a counterfeit.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about spotting fake 1977 $100 bills, including a brief history of the $100 bill and 1977 series notes, an overview of security features to inspect, a step-by-step authentication process, and tips for handling suspicious bills.

Brief History of $100 Bills and the 1977 Series

How To Tell If A 1977 Series $100 Bill Is Real Or Fake
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The $100 bill has a long and fascinating history in the United States. It was first issued in 1862 during the American Civil War as a means to fund the war effort. Since then, the $100 bill has undergone several design changes to incorporate new security features and stay ahead of counterfeiters.

When the $100 bill was first issued

The first $100 bill was issued in 1862 as a Legal Tender Note, featuring a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. At that time, the design of the bill was relatively simple compared to the intricate designs we see today.

However, even then, measures were taken to prevent counterfeiting, such as the use of special inks and paper.

Over the years, the $100 bill has evolved to include various security features to combat counterfeiting. These include watermarks, security threads, color-shifting ink, and microprinting, among others.

Key design updates in 1977

1977 $100 bill reverse
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In 1977, the $100 bill underwent a significant design update as part of the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations. This update introduced a new portrait of Benjamin Franklin on the front of the bill while keeping the same general layout as previous versions.

One notable change was the addition of a metallic security strip embedded in the left side of the bill. This strip contains microprinting and a small holographic image that is visible when held up to the light. This security feature is still present in the current design of the $100 bill.

Another important update in 1977 was the addition of color-shifting ink on the numeral “100” on the bottom right corner of the bill. When tilted, the color of the numeral changes from green to black or copper. This ink was a significant advancement in anti-counterfeiting technology at the time.

It is worth noting that counterfeiters have become increasingly sophisticated in their methods over the years. Therefore, it is essential to be familiar with the latest security features and take necessary precautions to ensure the authenticity of a 1977 series $100 bill.

Overview of Security Features on $100 Bills

Security features of $100 bill
Image from CNET

When it comes to identifying the authenticity of a 1977 Series $100 bill, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the various security features incorporated into the design. These features are specifically designed to deter counterfeiters and ensure the integrity of the currency.

Advanced anti-counterfeiting measures

The 1977 Series $100 bill includes advanced anti-counterfeiting measures that make it difficult for counterfeiters to replicate. These measures include a combination of intricate details, specialized inks, and advanced printing techniques that are nearly impossible to reproduce accurately.

These features help to protect the authenticity of the bill.

Security thread

One of the prominent security features on the 1977 Series $100 bill is the security thread. This thread is embedded within the paper and runs vertically through the bill. By holding the bill up to the light, you should be able to see a thin strip containing microprinting and a small denomination numeral.

This thread is an essential element in distinguishing between genuine and counterfeit bills.


The watermark is another crucial security feature on the 1977 Series $100 bill. When you hold the bill up to the light, you’ll notice a faint image of Benjamin Franklin on the right side of the bill. This watermark is created during the paper manufacturing process and is a reliable indicator of authenticity.

Color-shifting ink

Color-shifting ink is used on the 1977 Series $100 bill to enhance its security. When you tilt the bill, the color of the ink on the numeral 100 in the bottom right corner will shift from copper to green. This color change is a unique characteristic of genuine bills and cannot be replicated easily.


Microprinting is a security feature that involves printing tiny, intricate text on the bill that is difficult to replicate. On the 1977 Series $100 bill, microprinting can be found on various parts of the bill, such as the borders, the Federal Reserve seal, and the portrait of Benjamin Franklin.

This feature adds a layer of security to the bill.

Other security elements

In addition to the aforementioned security features, the 1977 Series $100 bill also incorporates other elements, such as raised printing, fine lines, and intricate designs. These elements are designed to make it harder for counterfeiters to reproduce the bill accurately.

By examining these details closely, you can determine the authenticity of a 1977 Series $100 bill.

For more information on the security features of the $100 bill, you can visit the U.S. Currency Education Program website, which provides detailed information and resources on identifying genuine currency.

Step-by-Step Guide to Authenticating 1977 $100 Bills

If you have come across a 1977 Series $100 bill and are unsure whether it is real or fake, there are several key features to look out for. By following this step-by-step guide, you can easily authenticate the bill and determine its legitimacy.

1. Examine the serial numbers

The first thing you should do is examine the serial numbers on the bill. Genuine 1977 $100 bills have a unique combination of letters and numbers that are evenly spaced and aligned. Look for any irregularities in the font or spacing, as these can be indicators of a counterfeit bill.

2. Inspect the security thread

One of the most important security features of a genuine 1977 $100 bill is the security thread. Hold the bill up to the light and you should see a thin strip embedded vertically within the paper. The security thread should be visible without any breaks or gaps, and it should read “USA 100” when held up to the light.

3. Check for the 3D security ribbon

The 1977 $100 bill features a 3D security ribbon that is woven into the paper. Tilt the bill back and forth and you should see the ribbon shift from green to copper. Additionally, when you tilt the bill, you should see tiny bells appear and disappear within the ribbon.

Counterfeit bills often lack this intricate 3D effect.

4. Verify the watermark

Hold the bill up to the light and look for the watermark on the right-hand side. A genuine 1977 $100 bill should display a faint image of Benjamin Franklin, which is visible from both sides of the bill. If the watermark is missing or unclear, it is likely a counterfeit.

5. Check the color-shifting ink

Another security feature to check is the color-shifting ink used on the 1977 $100 bill. Tilt the bill back and forth to see the numeral “100” in the bottom right corner change color from copper to green. Counterfeit bills may not have this color-shifting effect.

6. Look closely at the microprinting

Microprinting is a feature that counterfeiters often struggle to replicate accurately. On a genuine 1977 $100 bill, there are several areas where tiny words and numbers can be found, such as around the portrait of Benjamin Franklin and on the security thread.

Use a magnifying glass if necessary to examine these details closely.

7. Feel the raised print

Genuine 1977 $100 bills have raised printing on the portrait of Benjamin Franklin, the serial numbers, and the Treasury seal. Run your fingers over these areas and you should be able to feel the texture. Counterfeit bills may lack this raised print or have an inconsistent texture.

By following these steps and paying attention to the various security features, you can confidently determine whether a 1977 Series $100 bill is real or fake. Remember to always exercise caution when accepting or handling cash, and if you have any doubts about the authenticity of a bill, consult with a professional or your local authorities.

What to Look for on Counterfeit 1977 Series $100 Bills

Missing or incorrect security features

One of the first things to look for when determining the authenticity of a 1977 Series $100 bill is the presence of security features. Genuine bills from this series should have a security thread embedded in the paper, which can be seen when held up to the light.

The security thread should be a thin, vertical strip that runs from top to bottom and is embedded in the paper, not printed on it. Additionally, there should be a watermark of Benjamin Franklin’s face visible when the bill is held up to the light.

Counterfeit bills may lack these security features or have them printed on the surface rather than embedded in the paper.

Blurry areas and details

Another red flag to watch out for is any blurriness or lack of sharpness in the design elements of the bill. Genuine 1977 Series $100 bills should have clear, crisp lines and details. Counterfeit bills, on the other hand, may have blurry areas, smudged ink, or inconsistent printing quality.

If you notice any of these issues, it could be a sign that the bill is fake.

Mismatched serial numbers

Serial numbers play a crucial role in identifying counterfeit bills. On genuine 1977 Series $100 bills, the serial numbers should be evenly spaced, the same color as the Treasury Seal, and printed in the same font.

Counterfeit bills may have serial numbers that are mismatched in terms of spacing, color, or font. Carefully compare the serial numbers on the bill you’re examining to those of known genuine bills to spot any discrepancies.

Incorrect fonts, symbols, or spelling

Counterfeiters often struggle to replicate the exact fonts, symbols, and spelling used on genuine banknotes. When examining a 1977 Series $100 bill, pay close attention to the fonts used for the text, such as the denomination and the Treasury Seal. Check for any misspellings or inconsistencies.

Legitimate bills should have consistent and accurate typography throughout. If you spot any errors or irregularities, the bill is likely fake.

Differences in paper, texture, color

Authentic 1977 Series $100 bills are printed on a specific type of paper that has a unique texture and color. Counterfeit bills may use lower-quality paper or have a different texture and color than genuine bills.

To determine the authenticity of a bill, compare its paper quality, texture, and color to that of a known genuine bill. Any noticeable differences could indicate that the bill is counterfeit.

Remember, if you suspect that you have a counterfeit bill, it’s important to contact your local law enforcement or the U.S. Secret Service. They have the expertise and resources to verify the authenticity of the bill and take appropriate action if necessary.

What to Do If You Receive a Counterfeit $100 Bill

Do not return the note to the passer

If you suspect that the $100 bill you have received is counterfeit, the first thing you should do is refrain from returning it to the person who gave it to you. This is because passing counterfeit money is illegal, and you do not want to inadvertently become involved in any illegal activities.

Instead, handle the situation carefully and follow the necessary steps to ensure the counterfeit bill is properly reported and removed from circulation.

Contact local police

As soon as you realize that you have a counterfeit $100 bill, it is crucial to contact your local police department. They have the expertise to handle such matters and will guide you on the appropriate actions to take.

Provide them with all the necessary information, such as where and when you received the counterfeit bill, and any details about the person who gave it to you if possible.

Report it to the US Secret Service

The US Secret Service is responsible for investigating and preventing currency counterfeiting. Reporting the counterfeit bill to them is an essential step in combating counterfeit currency. You can reach out to your local Secret Service field office or visit their website for information on how to report counterfeit currency online.

By reporting the counterfeit bill, you are not only protecting yourself but also helping to safeguard the integrity of the US currency.

Submit a report to the Federal Reserve

In addition to contacting the local police and the US Secret Service, it is also recommended to submit a report to the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve plays a critical role in maintaining the stability and security of the US currency.

Reporting the counterfeit bill to them helps in their efforts to track counterfeit activity and protect the monetary system. You can visit the Federal Reserve’s website to find information on how to submit a report regarding counterfeit currency.

Remember, it’s important to take the necessary steps to handle counterfeit money properly. By following these guidelines, you can contribute to the fight against counterfeiting and help maintain the integrity of our currency.

How To Tell If A 1977 Series $100 Bill Is Real Or Fake – Conclusion

With counterfeiters getting increasingly sophisticated, it’s important to carefully examine any 1977 series $100 bills that come your way. This guide covered the key security features to look for and what to watch out for on fake bills.

Taking a few minutes to authenticate older $100s can save you from accepting worthless counterfeit currency.

If you have any doubts about the authenticity of a $100 bill, compare it side-by-side with a note you know is real. When in doubt, remember the motto ‘If it seems suspicious, don’t take the chance.’

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