Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why are there all these small stamps on US $100 dollar bills?

The Internet has given me many things. It has helped me find the best mortgage, how to change a tire, and provide years of entertainment. The Internet rarely lets me down when I have a question, because with so many people on the Internet, someone must have researched any topic I had any interest in.

So when I kept coming back to the same question and was never really finding an answer, I decided it was time for me to setup a page to find the answer or at least ask the question.

The question is fairly simple, but no one seemed to care . . .

Why are there all these small stamps on US $100 dollar bills?

They might be foreign sounding words, tiny little animals, or small little designs. If they were on one bill out of a thousand I wouldn't give it a second thought, but as I went through $100 bills on a recent trip to Las Vegas I found that these images were on around 20% of the bills. Back home in the Midwest, I would say that at least 10% of the $100 bills have these symbols. Some bills have multiple symbols on them.

I searched the Internet and largely came up with no clear answers.

It wasn't like there was just bad answers, there were no answers.

After giving up and coming back to the subject a couple times, I finally hit on what is most likely that answer for most, but not necessarily all of the images.

From the comments of an image posting site, provide the ONLY real answer I have found anywhere.

This a seal commonly uses in exchange houses outside the US. This one certainly comes from South America, where some of the exchnage joints seal the bills as proof that is not fake or 'dirty" money.

This answer immediately made sense to me (credit to user lmtos at Why did the images often looks so exotic or cryptic. Because they were actually from many different countries throughout the world.

This answer makes sense. Most of the United States' actual physical currency is outside the U.S.. The currency is used in contries throughout the world to provide a stable currency when none exists or at least a more stable currency. While the U.S. dollar is starting to cede ground to the Euro, it still is used throughout the world. While US consumers are moving away from physical cash, much of the developing world still uses it.

Money houses and currency exchanges could stamp U.S. bills with their own symbol so that local populations believe that the bill has been verified by a trusted local partry. That these stamps could likely be easily copied, speaks to why some of these stamp designs are so intricate. If you are going to forge the stamp it will take some work.

I don't know that this is the answer, but it is enough to get me to start this blog. I am going to be posting some of the images I have found and hope other will comment on where the images might be associated with and hopefully send some of the stamps or seals that they find as well.