I am looking forward to the introduction of the new $5 Federal Reserve Note. I am delighted the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is creating something new for me to spend and possibly collect in the future.
The BEP is not doing this for my benefit. It is not doing it as a make-work project for its staff. It is doing so for the right reasons: to combat counterfeiters.
Integrity of the currency is one of the primary responsibilities of the government and I am glad they take their responsibilities seriously. This benefits the whole economy. Once the public thinks that accepting paper money is a dangerous thing, the wheels of commerce would drastically slow.
I have seen iodine counterfeit detector pens applied to $20 bills I have offered in payment to cashiers and I wonder whether the business is paranoid or recently stung with a fake of that denomination. If everybody starts using these pens indiscriminately, it would dramatically curtail the useful life of all paper money. Any steps that the BEP can take to forestall this is a good thing.
I have never been stuck with a counterfeit note in my change. Have you? That is a testimonial to the good job that the BEP does in printing counterfeit-resistant paper money but also to the good job done by the U.S. Secret Service in rooting out fakes at their source as soon as they are found.
The Secret Service?s job is harder now because of the proliferation of color copying machines. Fakes produced on these kinds of machines are really not that good. Most of the time they don?t have the right paper, but these machines offer a wider window for fakes to enter commercial channels.
On a recent to trip to Costa Rica I happened to be at a fruit vendor. A woman had tendered a 10,000-colones note in payment for her purchase. This is approximately $20 and it is the highest denomination used in the country. It is not ordinarily encountered in fruit stand transactions. The vendor handed it back saying it was counterfeit. That is when I started noticing what was going on. You could see that the note was phony at a distance. It looked like a copier fake, but she seemed stunned. She pulled out another 10,000 that she had to compare, claiming that was all the money she had to pay her bills.
Was she an innocent victim as she claimed, now wondering how she was going to meet her weekly expenses, or was this an attempt to slip a fast one by a possibly too accommodating businessman? I will never know. My Spanish is not good enough for subtlety, but it was a visual lesson in why it is important to pay attention to paper money.
If we are all a little more vigilant, the Secret Service and BEP would be immeasurably aided in their jobs. It would also hugely help the hobby. It has been a pet theory of mine for many years that there is a ?gotcha? moment when the casual examination of a coin or note by a noncollector causes a sudden impulsive thought that leads to collecting. At that moment we got ?em. The more such moments there are, the more collectors are created.