The $100 bill is one of the most recognizable denominations of U.S. currency. With Benjamin Franklin’s distinguished face on the front and Independence Hall on the back, the $100 bill has an iconic design that many Americans are familiar with.
But you may have noticed that not all $100 bills look exactly the same – some have a blue stripe along the side while others do not. So do all $100 bills have a blue stripe? The short answer is no, not all $100 bills have the blue stripe.
However, over time most $100 bills in circulation will contain this stripe as older notes are phased out through normal wear and tear. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a close look at the history and design of the $100 bill and examine exactly when and why the blue security stripe was added.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Only newer designs of the $100 bill contain the blue security stripe. Older $100 bills issued before 2003 do not have the stripe (the exception is a small amount printed between 1914-1929). The blue stripe was added as an anti-counterfeiting measure.
In this article, we’ll explore the full history of the $100 bill’s design and the introduction of advanced security features like the blue stripe. We’ll examine the different series of $100 bills and look at how and when the blue stripe first appeared.
With detailed photos and descriptions, you’ll learn to identify both older and newer $100 bills. We’ll also discuss other security features like color-shifting ink and watermarks that help distinguish real U.S. currency from counterfeits.
Whether you want to satisfy your curiosity or make sure your $100 bills are valid and current, this comprehensive guide has the answers you seek.
A Brief History of the $100 Bill Design
The design of the $100 bill has gone through several changes over the years. Each iteration has brought new security features and aesthetic enhancements to the currency, reflecting advancements in printing technology and efforts to combat counterfeiting.
Let’s take a closer look at the different designs that have graced the face of the $100 bill.
The Original $100 Bill Series (1914-1929)
In 1914, the first series of $100 bills was introduced by the United States Treasury. These bills featured a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, on the front. The design also included intricate engravings and a blue seal.
During this period, the $100 bill had a distinctive blue stripe running vertically on the left side of the note. This blue stripe was a security feature that helped to distinguish the $100 bill from other denominations.
It’s important to note that not all $100 bills from this era had a blue stripe. Some were issued without it, but it became a common feature in later designs.
Small-Sized $100 Bills Debut in 1929
In 1929, the U.S. Treasury introduced smaller-sized currency, known as “small-size notes.” These notes were approximately 30% smaller than their predecessors and featured a standardized design across all denominations.
The $100 bill continued to feature Benjamin Franklin on the front, but the blue stripe was no longer present. Instead, the bill had a red seal to indicate its value. This design remained relatively unchanged until the mid-1990s.
A Larger Portrait and More Color (1996-2003)
In 1996, the U.S. Treasury introduced a new design for the $100 bill. This design featured a larger portrait of Benjamin Franklin, making it easier to see the details of his face. The bill also incorporated more color, including shades of green, yellow, and orange.
Security features were also enhanced during this period. Watermarks, security threads, and color-shifting ink were introduced to help prevent counterfeiting. These features made it increasingly difficult for criminals to produce fake $100 bills.
The Most Recent $100 Bill Design (2003-Present)
In 2003, the most recent design for the $100 bill was introduced. This design incorporates even more advanced security features to stay ahead of counterfeiters. Some of these features include a 3D security ribbon, color-shifting ink, and microprinting.
The 3D security ribbon is a unique feature that contains images of bells and 100s that shift as the bill is tilted. This blue ribbon is woven into the paper, making it extremely difficult to replicate. The microprinting is so small that it is almost impossible to reproduce accurately.
When Did the Blue Security Stripe First Appear?
The blue security stripe on $100 bills is a relatively recent addition to U.S. currency. It was introduced as part of ongoing efforts to enhance the security features of the bills and combat counterfeiting.
The blue stripe serves as an additional layer of protection, making it easier for individuals and businesses to verify the authenticity of the bills.
New Color and Features for the 1996 Series
In 1996, the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing unveiled a new design for the $100 bill. This redesign included a number of enhanced security features, including a watermark, a security thread, and a new color-shifting ink that changed from green to black when tilted.
While this redesign did not feature the blue stripe, it marked the beginning of a new era for U.S. currency, with a greater emphasis on security.
The Blue Stripe Arrives in 2003
Besides a short period from 1914 to 1929, it wasn’t until the 2003 series of $100 bills that the blue security stripe made its debut. This addition was a significant step forward in the battle against counterfeiters. The blue stripe runs vertically on the right-hand side of the bill and features a series of microprinted “USA” letters, which are only visible under magnification.
The introduction of the blue stripe was accompanied by other security enhancements, such as a color-shifting bell in the inkwell and a 3D security ribbon woven into the paper. These features, combined with the blue stripe, made the 2003 series of $100 bills one of the most secure and difficult to counterfeit in circulation.
Phase-Out of Older $100 Bills Without Stripes
As the new $100 bills with the blue stripe were introduced, the older versions without the stripe began to be phased out. This process took several years, with the older bills gradually being withdrawn from circulation.
Today, the majority of $100 bills in circulation are the newer series with the blue stripe and enhanced security features.
It’s important to note that even though the blue stripe is a key security feature of U.S. currency, it is not the only one. The bills also incorporate a variety of other security measures, such as color-shifting ink, microprinting, and intricate designs that are difficult to reproduce accurately.
These features work together to make U.S. currency one of the most secure in the world.
Other Advanced Anti-Counterfeiting Features
One of the advanced anti-counterfeiting features found on U.S. currency is color-shifting ink. This ink is used on the numeral located on the bottom right corner of the $100 bill. When you tilt the bill, the color of the ink changes from copper to green.
This feature makes it difficult for counterfeiters to replicate, as it requires specialized printing techniques and materials.
3D Security Ribbon
Another advanced security feature on the $100 bill is the 3D security ribbon. This ribbon is woven into the currency paper and features images of bells and 100s that appear to move when the bill is tilted.
The ribbon is an intricate combination of micro-optics and microprinting, making it extremely difficult to reproduce.
Microprinting is another anti-counterfeiting measure used on U.S. currency, including $100 bills. Microprinting involves the printing of tiny, intricate text that is barely visible to the naked eye. On the $100 bill, microprinting can be found on various parts of the bill, such as the words “USA 100” on the lower left corner of the front of the bill.
This feature is difficult to replicate and helps to identify genuine currency.
Watermarks are a common security feature found on many currencies, including the $100 bill. These watermarks are created by embedding images or patterns into the paper during the manufacturing process. When held up to the light, these watermarks become visible.
On the $100 bill, a watermark of Benjamin Franklin can be seen on the right side of the bill. Counterfeiters would find it challenging to reproduce this watermark accurately.
How to Check if a $100 Bill is Real
Counterfeit money is a concern for both individuals and businesses, so it’s important to know how to spot a fake. When it comes to $100 bills, there are several security features you can look for to determine if a bill is real or counterfeit. Here are some key steps to follow:
Look for the Blue Stripe and 3D Ribbon
One of the first things you should do is check for the blue security stripe and 3D security ribbon. On a genuine $100 bill, you will find a thin blue security strip running vertically on the left-hand side of the bill. This strip is embedded within the paper and can be seen when held up to the light.
Additionally, a 3D security ribbon is woven into the paper and features images of bells and ‘100’ that shift when you tilt the bill.
Tilt the Bill to See the Color-Shift and Bell
Another feature to look for is the color-shifting ink. On a real $100 bill, the number ‘100’ in the bottom right corner should change color when you tilt the bill. It will shift from green to copper. Additionally, when you tilt the bill, a small bell within the inkwell on the front of the bill should change from copper to green.
These color-shifting elements are difficult for counterfeiters to replicate accurately.
Feel the Raised Printing
When examining a $100 bill, be sure to run your fingers over the surface and feel for the raised printing. Genuine bills have a slightly raised texture on the portraits, Federal Reserve and Treasury seals, and the serial numbers.
Counterfeit bills may lack this texture or have a noticeably different feel to the touch.
Hold Up to Light to View Watermark
One more security feature to check for is the watermark. Hold the bill up to a light source and look for a faint image of Benjamin Franklin on the right-hand side of the bill. The watermark should be visible without any additional markings or discoloration.
If the watermark is not present or looks distorted, it’s a red flag that the bill may be counterfeit.
Remember, these are just a few of the security features to look for when determining the authenticity of a $100 bill. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the latest security measures by visiting the official website of the U.S. Department of the Treasury at www.treasury.gov.
By staying informed and practicing these checks, you can help protect yourself and others from counterfeit currency.
Older $100 Bills Without the Stripe Still Valid
If you’ve come across an older $100 bill without the blue stripe, don’t panic. These bills are still considered valid and can be used for any transactions. The blue stripe is a security feature that was introduced in 2013 to help prevent counterfeit bills.
However, not all $100 bills have been updated with this feature yet.
No Need to Rush to Replace Old $100s
There is no immediate need to rush to replace your old $100 bills without the blue stripe. The U.S. Treasury has stated that all previous designs of the $100 bill will remain legal tender indefinitely. This means that you can continue to use these older bills without any issues.
However, it’s important to note that as new bills with enhanced security features are introduced, counterfeiters may focus their efforts on replicating the older designs. So, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the security features of U.S. currency to ensure you can detect counterfeit bills.
Banks Will Eventually Destroy Old Bills
While older $100 bills without the blue stripe are still valid, banks have been instructed by the Federal Reserve to remove these bills from circulation over time. When banks receive these older bills, they are typically sent back to the Federal Reserve, where they will eventually be destroyed.
The goal of this process is to gradually replace the older designs with the new ones that include additional security features. This helps to maintain the integrity of U.S. currency and reduce the risk of counterfeit bills being in circulation.
The Lifespan of U.S. Paper Currency
On average, U.S. paper currency has a lifespan of about 4-5 years. However, this can vary depending on the denomination of the bill and how often it is used. Higher denomination bills, like the $100 bill, tend to have a longer lifespan since they are less frequently circulated.
When a bill becomes worn out or damaged, it is taken out of circulation by the Federal Reserve and replaced with a new one. The old bills are then destroyed, ensuring that only crisp and reliable currency remains in circulation.
For more information on U.S. currency and its security features, you can visit the U.S. Currency Education Program website.
While all newer $100 bills now contain a blue security stripe, older bills without the stripe remain valid and in circulation. But over time, the older notes will be removed from supply by banks. So going forward, most $100 bills you come across will have the blue stripe along with other advanced security features.
If you have older $100s lacking some of these features, feel free to spend them as they’re still legitimate legal tender. But you can also swap them out at your bank for crisp new bills with the latest designs.
With this guide, you now understand the history behind the changing look of the $100 bill as security features are enhanced.
The $100 bill has evolved over the last century to stay ahead of counterfeiters and incorporate the latest technology to combat fraud. By learning to recognize the blue stripe and other security features, you can quickly spot valid $100 bills and know what to look for.
Whether making a big purchase or checking your cash on hand, this knowledge helps ensure your $100s are genuine.