New 100 bucks: really-really ugly

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Oh for goodness’ sake! Somebody please find some good designers, and take away crayons and highlighters from those kids of Bureau of Engraving and Printing employees, okay?

I know, I know, currency just has to be functional and well regarded for its purchasing power and stability, not it’s beauty. But why does the new $100 look like a kid attacked it with above-mentioned writing instruments? Horrible colors. Extra cool, but completely mismatched security strip, that looks like someone at the very last moment demanded extra security.

— But sir, new moving image strip can only be manufactured in blue-ink-like color, not green.
— Fantastic! We’ll pretend it’s that ink from the inkwell on the right half of the banknote.
— That blob of copperish color is an inkwell?! Is this an inkwell for Hulk? If whole Liberty Bell can fit in it?
— Um… sure, let’s go with that. Especially as it tints angry green when you tilt it. Hulk tints green, right?

And then, purple-ish jacket on the President?! Crazy!
Now 100 Euro note looks more like bucks than the new 100 bucks. Which is a shame. If designers were going for a flair they should have looked at Australian dollar banknotes which while having plenty of color, do look organic and well planned, instead of painted over (plus, they are printed on polypropylene, which makes them much stronger and wear-resistant). Of course I do understand the need to keep the banknote “traditional”. But in this case it’s akin to the Joker trying to “jazz up” classical paintings by splashing them with color paints. It just doesn’t work.

I still remember my first $100 bill. And how I used it. I just moved to the US, and had to actually buy something at Walmart. I was out of small bills and ended up using a hundred for the first time. I swear, judging by reaction of the cashier, it was her first hundred too. After careful inspections from all sides, using chemical pen, little UV light thingie and almost licking it a few times, she agreed that the note seemed to be a valid tender, and my completely prosaic purchase of some food, and I don’t remember what else, was finally paid for. Also, that was the first time when I realized that “cereals” (as in breakfast) and “serials” (as in TV) had very little in common, though you can get both at Walmart. My manager was kind enough to take me shopping to that store, and he asked if I had cereal in the morning while living in Russia, to which I replied that I don’t watch TV before breakfast. Oh well. I still don’t.

Bonus currency-redesign related weirdness: one of online mass media sites in Russia,, managed to write that new $100 bill has “handbells” on it and that “a handbell” is a symbol of freedom. At that point my brain short-circuited due to absurdity of the phrase. Small image of the Liberty Bell is not a “handbell” (or bluebell, as the same word is used in Russian to indicate both the blue flower, and a small handbell). Though I suppose I think of it differently because I actually had a chance to visit the Liberty Bell exhibition in Philadelphia. I hope they will fix the article soon.

P.S. A couple more reasons why new redesign fails:
1. It doesn’t really help blind people. Yes, “weird texture” on the President’s shoulder is nice. Making a simple pattern on all bills that indicates denomination (if full Braille is not possible) would be the right choice
2. Splashes of color do not cover whole bill, so if you’re looking into your wallet, you can’t tell if the corner of the bill is 10 or a 100 without reading the number. Simple color coding would be better, but corners are pretty much the same.

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