Monday, December 1, 2014

D.C. field trip shows students where the money is made

Students in the National Capital Region took a field trip recently to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. The bureau is a government agency that, among other things, designs and produces the country's paper money.

Click below to see more pictures from the field trip and to read what some of the students had to say about their trip:

It was a valuable experience to visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in D.C, because I learned plenty of things in a relatively short time. The most impressive thing was that it is open to the public.
In Korea, there is a similar governmental agency called Korea Minting, Security Printing and ID Card Operating Corporation. However, they are not allowed to open to the public because of security problems, so I had no choice but to imagine all the procedures of printing money when I was young.
While watching the entire process of money printing and officers’ unending discussion to make a better output, I found myself in awe of exquisite printing procedures. It truly reminded me of importance and value of money, which I took for granted a while.

When I arrived at Bureau of Engraving and Printing, I was fascinated by staffs’ neckties, since a number of money pictures were printed on them. One of my friends asked a staff member how they got it. Then staff said we could get this item at souvenir shop after the BEP tour. It made them have more special and professional attitude about their job.
Before entering the building, I passed through a screening device according to BEP regulations. While I was walking along the hall, I could see BEP and a bundle of money, as much as $1 million on display. Incredible! If I could have that money, I would buy a nice car first.
After watching an introduction of BEP, we followed the kind guide with detailed explanation for understanding the process of making money. For preventing counterfeit, they have 14 colors for making moneys, but they normally use three colors, color-shifting inks. Also, we could find watermarks in the lighted place which is not able to copy by private scanners or printers. To make memories, I wore a big dollar-marked necklace with my friends and bought a coin pocket for saving coins.

The most interesting thing was the brand new $100 bill printing. The new one looks like smaller than other bills. Also, its color is different. Other bills have green color, but new $100 bills have a more blue tone. And I had not known how the security of dollars is printed. But I finally know how they prevent the value of bills from counterfeiters. The hidden portraits are printed already. And many holograms and printings are covered. I know that many counterfeits are made too elaborate to find out. They said that that’s why they make brand new designed bills. Also, I was surprised that they sell the money. Valuable or celebrated bills have much more value than their own value. For example, a $2 bill is sold for about $7. Also set of 10 dollars is sold expensively. I was interested in that fact. Also, Korea has some celebrated bills. For example, when we hold the World Cup, the Bureau made some celebration bills with gold and silver. The field trip was very exciting, and I was happy to go with my friends and classmates.

The first thing that I have learned is about the serial number of the money notes. I was surprised that they use the same serial number many times and write a letter at the end of the number to show how many times it is used. Also, they write letters on the paper money to show which bank the money are going to. By looking at the money paper, you can infer a lot of information about it. The other thing I know is about the money printing steps. First, they use a special white paper sheet. Second, they print one side with green ink and the other with black. After that, they cut it to two slides of money notes. The final step is to cut it to the final size. The surprising thing was that they print one billion dollars notes per day, and 3% of them are damaged.

I got to know people in different types of dollars. The front of the notes feature portraits of famous, deceased American. George Washington on the $1, Thomas Jefferson on the $2, Alexander Hamilton on the $10, Andrew Jackson on the $20, Ulysses Grant on $50, and Benjamin Franklin on the $100. The backs of the notes reflects the history of the United States. The great seal of the United States on the $1, the signing of the Declaration of independence on the $2, the Lincoln Memorial on the $5, The treasury Building on the $10, the White house on the $20, the capitol on the $50, and independence hall on the $100 note. The reason that portraits of the famous people are on the dollars is that American wants to give respect and honor to them.  

On the field trip to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the most interesting thing for me was the ways to prevent counterfeit money.  For counterfeit deterrence, they try to make a bill in sophisticated and complex ways. For example, a bill has 14 different colors. Furthermore, the color changes from copper to green because color-shifting ink is used. These various colors make counterfeiting money much harder.  Also, a portrait of public figure in the United States is printed on the sheet.  Thanks to these security features, currency counterfeiting has consistently been kept low for more than 100 years. After the field trip, I found that a bill has a lot of security features. It is very interesting to find these security features on the bill by myself. I can also compare a Korean bill and the bill of the U.S with these features.  After I visited the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, whenever I use a bill, I become more careful about its appearance and think about the efforts they put in making a one bill.  

The money that people use is a very important thing in their lives. We buy things using money, so we need to know how this money was made. I never thought that the processes of making money are very complex, until I visited the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and I learned about how our money is made. The first thing that I learned was that they print the money on an empty paper that is not really empty. It has a lot of signs that makes it had to copy. By all these signs, it is actually impossible to copy this money. In addition, I saw the paper that the money is printed on. It is a very large paper. Every paper has 2x16 bills. Every day, more than one billion dollars are printed. Moreover, I saw one bill that has $100,000. I don’t know if there were bills like this in the past or now, but it is a huge number for one paper. My classmates and I took a tour for about 20 minutes. I wanted to see the printing processes closer but I couldn’t. Only VIP visitors can see the money closer. I really had fun during this trip and I learned more about the money that I’m using it every day.


  1. Take a memorable Trips to Washington DC? When it comes to American History, this is where it all comes together in Washington DC. Let Great Adventure Tours experienced staff plan all of your Trips to Washington DC needs.