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security printing overview

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Post  guilloche on 5/21/2012, 11:32 pm

From "The Security Printing Practices of Banknotes"

The history of civilizations conducting transactions has been documented since 3000 B.C .
During this time, the Sumerians began to use metal coins instead of barley for making their
transactions (“Paper Currency”). Eventually, metal coins would evolve into paper notes, of
which China was the first to use during the seventh century. For centuries to follow, printed
banknote currency would undertake myriad changes, with most of these changes focusing on
deterring counterfeiters and ultimately maintaining the integrity of the banknote.

In 1690, the first paper money in the United States was issued by the Masochistts Bay colony
and was valued in British Pounds (“Paper Currency”). When the American Revolution occurred
among the colonies, the first paper money printed in the United States lost its value due to
extreme counterfeiting by the British and uncertainty as to the outcome of the war. Thus, it was
not until the mid 1800s when paper notes would be printed again in the United States. During
these years, as many as 1600 different kinds of paper money were in circulation in the United
States and as much as a third of it was counterfeit (“Paper Currency”). To rectify this problem,
the United States Congress authorized the issue of a stable and universal paper currency in 1863
(Warner 4). In the next two years, this universal paper currency would be subject to many
counterfeiters. As a result, President, Abraham Lincoln established the Secret Service in 1865,
whose primary goal was to eliminate counterfeiters. Stopping counterfeiters is a worthwhile
action, however, the ultimate goal is try to prevent unauthorized duplication in the first place. In
the book, Introduction to Security Printing , authors, Richard Warner and Richard Adams define
the goal of security printing by stating, “ The goal for today’s security printer is to produce
documents, labels, packages and cards with multiple layers of new counterfeit deterrents while 8
maintaining the aesthetics and functionality of the printed product” (Warner 4). To help make
this goal attainable for banknotes, several security-printing techniques are used in the process of
banknote printing. Warner distinguishes banknotes as a high-tech security end product (SEP) and
acknowledges that the more security devices that are employed in creating a high-tech secure
document, the more difficult it is to counterfeit. Today there are over forty techniques used to
produce high-tech security end products. However, the most commonly used techniques in the
production of banknote printing involve security paper, security ink, lithography, intaglio,
letterpress, optical variable devices, machine reading, durability, forgery protection, microprinting and design effects (Torapp guilloche designer).


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