Posts Tagged ‘Paper Money’

Currency Counterfeiting - A global nemesis

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

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The history of counterfeiting traces itself to the history of money itself. Counterfeiting had started when money was in its most primitive stages. The ancient Greeks and Romans resorted to shaving down legal coins, reducing their value, and use the shavings to cast new coins. The advent of paper money led to the modern day counterfeiting. With potential ill–effects being as huge as bringing a whole nation down, counterfeiting has proved to be a nemesis among nations, and the punishment for this crime can be as extreme as death.

Apart from being a human crime, counterfeiting by itself has been used among various nations to destabilise the economy of an entire nation. Governments have used it to a great degree of success by overflowing the target nation with fake bank notes, causing the real value of the currency to crash. During, the Revolutionary War, the Government of England resolved to counterfeit to reduce the value of the Continental Dollar. The United States government took a similar course but the fake Confederate currency they produced was of a superior quality as compared to the real thing.

The most professional campaign of counterfeiting was conducted by the Germans in World War II. The Germans manufactured very convincing paper, and used the professional expertise of prisoners held captive in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, to produce the fake currency. The Bank of England managed to obtain some bogus German currency, and found the forgeries so good that it is said that the only way to distinguish it from the real thing was that the forged one was better.

In the modern days, counterfeiting has been used to promote and sponsor terrorism. The Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBI) in India has reported that rupee notes are supplied by the Pakistan government press, free of cost to Dubai-based counterfeiters who, in turn smuggle it into India. This money is later used for funding terrorist activities inside India, and is also reported to be the main source of funding for the recent Mumbai blasts.

With advances in technology, the quality of counterfeiting has improved drastically, making it difficult to tell the real thing apart from its counterfeit. It is claimed that the U.S dollar bills produced in North Korea, are the finest counterfeit banknotes, and are called Superdollars because of their high amount of detail and quality. However, with the advent of the Euro, there has been a substantial decrease in the amount of forged U.S currency.

Counterfeiters use various measures to produce replicas of the original currency. Devices can range from a simple colour photocopier to much technologically advanced printing techniques like those used at the national mint depending on the level of accuracy and detail desired. Counterfeiting has become more of a bother now than ever before as it is easier for small-time operators to pull it off. All that is required is a high-resolution scanner, a high-end colour printer and a personal computer system.

Considering the nemesis that counterfeiting has on the economy, the governments of various nations have taken a number of steps to combat it. Techniques like making intricate designs, using ink patterns that are hard to duplicate have been employed. US greenbacks were traditionally printed in two inks. Many nations print engraved money, which use specially engraved plates that are very difficult to replicate. Some countries also resort to coming up with new designs frequently.

Statistics for counterfeiting remain uncertain, as it is difficult for most people to recognize a forged currency unless they are trained to do so. Some estimates place the proportion of bogus currency in Western Europe at about 3%, but the ratio is much higher in less developed countries. The usual target for counterfeiting is the $100 bill, and many of the forgeries are very good.

With so many techniques applied by various nations, the truth is that until money is being printed, counterfeiters will exist.

What Is A Dollar Bill Made Of ?

Monday, December 1st, 2008

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dollar made ofEver wondered what your dollar bill is made of? Do you know why money doesn’t disintegrate when left in the washing machine? That’s because paper money is more cloth than it is paper! In fact there is no paper at all, or even wood, used in any of our dollar bills. Paper money is made out of rags of paper, also known as heavy paper. These rags are cotton and linen fabrics beaten together to create cotton and linen fibers, making it really sturdy and durable.  

These rag fibers bond together more strongly than that of the fibers found on normal paper. Note that normal paper is made out of selected cellulose fiber which comes from trees, and these cellulose based paper absorbs water immediately and falls apart when so, as opposed to rags made out of cotton and linen fibers which molecule structures don’t break down easy. These rag fibers are fundamentally unaffected by water, its composition is so strong that it remains unaltered upon immersion in water or most liquids. The concoction of materials used is also much more resilient than normal paper, it resists wear and tear, and also does not contain the usual agents that makes ordinary paper glow slightly under an ultraviolet light. Paper money or banknote paper is also sometimes impregnated with polyvinyl alcohol or gelatin to give it that extra strength and durability.

Paper money is basically composed of 25 percent linen fibers and 75 percent cotton fibers, and red and blue synthetic fibers of various lengths are distributed evenly and consistently throughout the paper like material. It is said that prior to World War I, these fibers were made out of silk, but the practice was quickly discontinued because it wasn’t cost effective and practical.

Most banknotes these days are made using the mould method in which a watermark and thread is incorporated during the material forming process, mainly to thwart currency counterfeiters. To keep up and stay ahead of currency forgers, paper money today has also become so high-tech, and the newer designs include state-of-the-art technology like Cornerstone, Platinum and Optiks, all of which increases the strength and security of paper money.

Manufacturers of banknote paper were also swift to recognize the problems associated with dirt and they developed a special paper with a thin layer of varnish on the surface to repel them. Recently, the composition of materials used in producing paper money has also changed dramatically with the introduction of synthetic technology, which comprises an impenetrable network inside the cotton fiber structure, supporting the banknote and intensifying its mechanical stability, Newer products like Synthec and Diamone Composite has also responded to this call and the growing demand for higher mechanical stability of the paper, making paper money more resistant to wear and tear. Consisting of 80 percent cotton fiber and 20 percent synthetic fiber, Synthec based paper money lasts longer and is more flexible. Some countries around the world have also adopted polymer, which is basically soft plastic, to replace the traditional cotton and linen composites. 

The History Of Paper Money

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

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It is well known that paper currency or paper money was first created by the Chinese,who also incidentallyworld paper currency invented paper around 100 AD. The development of paper money in its earliest form can be traced right back to the 7th century. In the year 812, as a temporary solution to massive copper shortages, a Chinese Emperor started issuing paper money as a form of currency to aid trade, and this caught on so well that by the year 970 it was considered as a dominating type of currency in ancient China.

Stag skins, bark, or parchments marked with the imperial seal as “bills of payment” were used as a form of paper money during this time in history, and the penalty for those caught counterfeiting was death.

Before Marco Polo came back from his many voyages to China, dated between 1275 to 1292, the people of Europe initially doubted that the Chinese effectively used paper for as a form of currency, and paper money only began circulating in Europe 300 years later. However, the use of paper money ceased in China in the year 1455.

Paper currency had a lot of problems in gaining acceptance in Europe, although leather money was temporarily used around the year 1100, as a substitute to silver when the precious metal started becoming scarce. The history of paper currency in Europe started as emergency money substituting regular money such as coins. The first emergency paper bills are dated back to the year 1483 and the first bank notes were printed in the 17th century.

In 1161, a Swedish bank starting issuing paper currency but the money quickly lost its value when the bank started flooding the market with it. These first bank notes carried a guarantee that it could be traded at any time for coinage. Interestingly the name of this bank note was ‘cash’, a term that we still use today to describe paper money. The oldest existing bank note in the world is the 1000 ‘cash’ note of the Ming dynasty.

euro paper moneyThe usage of paper currency only caught on in Europe in the early 1700’s, when the French Government officially began issuing paper currency. The idea came from the paper receipts goldsmiths often gave their customer as a proof of payment and these receipts can be exchanged for gold as and when needed. This act was a milestone and was so significant that money was seen as a representation of valued commodity, as its exchangeable for silver and gold anywhere. A piece of paper currency is as good as a guarantee by the issuing institution, either the government or the bank, that would ensure the holder of the bill receive a predetermined amount of silver or gold from its reserves when it is produced. This is where the system in which money was backed by gold originated from, with the exception of times of war or national emergencies when paper money was supported by actual supplies of precious metal. This practice, however, ended in 1971.

Today, paper currency can be exchanged for almost any form of goods or services, in its value in return. This monetary system has proven so effective for so long that it may take a very long time before the currently emerging electronic money, as we know it today, will be commonly used as an alternative currency to paper money.