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Researching Security Printing

July 15, 2009

This is your author, speaking informally.

Some of you may wonder how I come to know what I know — where do I get my information?

As I have stated before, I am a private citizen of the United States, residing in the US. I am not employed by any level of any government entity.

The resources I use to do research for this blog are almost all publicly available, online, and free — but the old adage is true: you have to know where to look.

When using a search engine, it may be helpful to use very specific words, acronyms or phrases. Example: Google search results for “banknote”: 5.27 million. Google search results for “security printing”: 166 thousand. Google search results for “isard” and “banknote”: 343.

What follows is a list of web sites and resources that I have used for research:

Owen Linzmayer’s Banknote News: “Breaking news about international paper money.” An excellent source for images of new notes as well as news about them and their security features. Frequently updated.

Tom Chao’s Banknote News Archive: Another gentleman’s site, on the same topic. No embedded images. Frequently updated.

Bank Note Reporter: A monthly periodical “for paper money collectors.” Little content online — mostly print.

Ron Wise’s World Paper Money Homepage: “The official image gallery site for the IBNS.” Another excellent site for images of banknotes from virtually any issuing authority and any point in recent history.

Sinobanknote: A Chinese website, available in English, focusing on the PRC, the ROC, Hong Kong and Macao. A very good source for images, but no longer updated.

Polymer Bank Notes of the World: a site by Stane Štraus, “[t]he world’s leading reference for polymer bank notes.” A very good source for images and information, updated about monthly.

Securency: The Australian joint venture responsible for the majority of the world’s polymer banknotes. They have an illustrated glossary of their security features.

Wikipedia: One of the few resources on the Omron rings. Be cautious, however, as all contents of Wikipedia are user-created and user-editable, thus accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed.

US BEP: The United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the central government agency responsible for manufacturing US banknotes. Their website contains information about US currency, security features, and distributes educational materials generally free-of-charge. They also sell banknote collectibles. The BEP unveiled the newly-redesigned $5 bill via live webcast in March of 2008.

US FRB: The United States Federal Reserve System is the central government agency responsible for ‘requesting’ coins and currency from the BEP and the US Mint, physically distributing US banknotes and coins throughout the nation, maintaining physical currency reserves, as well as collecting unfit notes for destruction and moderating various behaviors of the US economy and US banks. They publish many studies & bulletins which sometimes contain useful information for the banknote collector.

USPTO: The US Patent and Trademark Office is the agency of the US central government responsible for officially registering intellectual property. It has a search function for US patents and also one for US trademarks. Searching for a known security printer, corporation or a generic term like “banknote” can help one find information on and images of various security features. Large foreign security printers may have US patents on their technologies. Multiple corporations also have patent search functions, including Google,, and Free Patents Online.

Crane & Co: Crane is an international security printer and security paper provider originating in and headquartered in the United States. They manufacture the blank paper for US dollars under contract with the US government. They also perform security printing R&D, and print foreign currencies. It was Crane that spearheaded the development of Motion.

The Swiss National Bank: Switzerland takes the security of it’s currency very seriously. As an example, the Swiss banknotes were the first currency in the world to use laser micro-perforation, also known as “microperf.”

The Netherlands Bank: The Netherlands are now part of the Eurozone, though they were in the recent past famous for the beautiful and skilled design of their Guilder banknotes (and their respective designers). The Netherlands Bank keeps their memory and traditions alive, in a fashion: they have published at least two public articles on currency design. Click here to download “Public Feedback for Better Banknote Design.” Searching for “design” on the bank’s site will yield more results.

The National Bank of Denmark: Denmark is not part of the Eurozone – it still issues it’s own currency. Denmark is about to begin issuing a new banknote design series. The National Bank has a pleasing amount of reference material on Danish banknotes and related news. Be sure to check the “Press Room” for images.

Giesecke & Devrient: G&D is a large German corporation that is “a leading supplier of banknote paper, banknote printing, currency automation systems” and secure documents & security printing in general. They publish press releases and an irregular ‘customer magazine’ about their current developments. G&D is one of the major players in banknotes.

De La Rue: The self-professed “world’s largest commercial security printer,” De La Rue is a British-based manufacturer of banknotes, high-security documents & cash-handling machines. DLR is also publicly-traded company, so they publish annual reports, financial statements and other shareholder materials along with a PR magazine and press releases.

Goznak: The major Russian security printer. Goznak has developed some interesting variations of security thread, and has over the past few years released some lovely promotional banknotes.

SICPA: SICPA is a Swiss company that specializes in security inks – like the sparkly, color-changing inks now common on higher-denomination banknotes.

Joh Enschede: The major Dutch security printer. “… [S]pecialises in print, media & security, and combines these specialisations to create total solutions.” They currently print Euro notes and used to print Dutch banknotes.

ECB: The European Central Bank. They have a modest section about the Euro notes.

Orell Füssli: The major Swiss security printer. They print the Swiss banknotes. They also developed Microperf.

Giori: Now KBA-Giori, and formerly Giori-De La Rue, this (formerly Italian) firm is another major European security printer. Headquartered in Switzerland, they are owned by KBA (Koenig & Bauer AG), a large German printing press manufacturer.

Readers, please let me know if I have left anyone out.

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