Friday, June 21, 2013

Printing money legally

While staying in a hotel in Plano a few weeks ago, I was browsing the tourist leaflets in the lobby and was surprised to come across one for  the US Bureau of printing and engraving in Blue Mound, just North of Fort Worth. Until that point I thought all money was printed in Washington DC. The interesting point was that they did tours. (whoever named the web site had a sense of humour!)

So Friday morning after the morning rush hour finished I drove over there. It took just over an hour, the biggest problem being the roadworks on I820 on the north side of Fort Worth

There is a separate entrance for the tour with security checks (no cameras, computers, phones, backpacks, Mace, explosives or any other electronic sevices). You then board a bus which takes you to the main building. There is a museum on the ground floor which was fascinating. For instance I discovered why the south got known as Dixieland. The Citizens Bank of Louisiana, a predecessor of J.P. Morgan Chase and Co., issued its own notes before the Civil War with the word "Dix", ten in French, on one side of the note. The region got know as the "land of Dix" which got shortened to Dixieland

On the first floor is a film theatre where there is a film showing you the printing process. There is also the entrance to the walkways so you can go on an audio book guided tour and see the printing machines in action. (until last October a guide did the tour but that stopped with Federal budget cuts!). Due to printing notes involving 3 printing presses and drying time being a couple of days it takes around 2 weeks from the paper input to the printed notes being given to the Feds. I also discovered there is a Damaged currency unit that redeems partially destroyed or badly damaged currency 

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