Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Uploaded by habook2 on Nov 07, 2006
Put in short, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is where all United States paper currency and several other paper goods for the government are manufactured. Incredibly important to our capitalist society, this bureau is kept one of the most secure and, if not completely, quite secretive about its habits. We shall, over the next several hours for me, several minutes for you, go over this process, and how it came to be.
The United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing was created on August 29, 1862. In a single basement room in the building of theTreasury, the bureau was created in order to issue paper money, which, during the Civil War, would be more resistant to counterfeiting than the gold and silver coins used. In 1894, they took over production of U.S. postage stamps, which they continue to manufacture now. The BEP has also, in its time, produced currency for China, Siam, Korea, and the Philippines, all work for which it has been paid. In the past, the Bureau has printed denominations up to $10,000, today still considered legal tender (Treasury, 1).?
The process of making paper money begins with manufacturing the paper. Denim (the kind used in blue jeans) and other types of cotton are mashed to a pulpy consistency, then bleached and treated with chemical baths then heated to turn it into usable pulpy slurry. The cotton pulp is then rolled and squeezed to expel all moisture until it is thin and dry enough to be used as paper. Immediately after the process of rolling, the watermark is pressed into the paper in a process known only to a few people. Also in this process, the anti-counterfeit plastic strip, dyed various fluorescent shades, is added. The fluorescent dye makes the strip reactive to black, or ultraviolet, lights; an easy way to tell a counterfeit bill from a fake one. There are red and blue strands scattered randomly throughout the paper, creating red, white, and blue bills. This also helps to determine counterfeit bills; those without the small strands are counterfeit (Discovery).
Printing the bills cannot even begin until their plates are engraved. Engravers at the BEP work tirelessly to engrave sheets of steel with the exact design of the bills, without serial numbers, color-shifting ink, or microprinting. They also have to engrave the plates backward so that the bills are printed correctly. For security purposes, no one engraver works...