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Ben Franklin & Copper – a $100 Connection

By Bob Weed, Copper Development Association (CDA) Vice President OEM

Check out the new $100 bill released this week. Ben Franklin’s face still graces the bill, but there’s something new – colorful copper!

Why so snazzy? It’s all about security, say government officials. These new features are designed to protect against counterfeit bills and color is used as an added security measure.

The bill’s inkwell and bell are both copper in color until you tilt it. Then both turn green like copper patina. It’s an effect that seems to make the bell appear and disappear in the inkwell. There’s also a 3D blue motion strip down the center that alternates with the letters USA and the numeral 100 when you move it side to side. You can view these special features on the U.S. government’s interactive website.

The $100 bill was popular even before its makeover. According to the Federal Reserve, about 8.6 billion $100 bills were in circulation last year, making it the number one bill next to the dollar.

We think Ben Franklin would be proud of his new look. It’s also fitting that copper joins him on the new $100 bill. After all, Franklin, an 18th century statesman, inventor and philosopher, was one of the first people to discover the link between conductivity and metals – like copper.

In the 1750s, Franklin started to fly kites in lightning storms to prove that lightening was electrical in nature. He used a Leyden jar, which can catch and store an electrical charge. Franklin also created the first lightning rod. By the 1800s, virtually all lightning rods were made of copper because they had superior conductivity when compared to other metals.

So thanks to the ingenuity of Benjamin Franklin, copper will always be tied to his genius, in the past and now today on the $100 bill. Learn more about the importance of copper in our every day lives.


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