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The Coin Geek

What time is it?

Have you ever watched a sporting event with a friend and had an argument over a call made by the official? They will show the play in slow mo, and super slow mo and then you both come to the opposite conclusion as to if the pass was complete or incomplete.

This is the problem with the US $100 bill. Since 1929 the bill has had Independence Hall on the back of the note.  I have a couple of close up shots of some notes over the years. You can take a look at them and see for yourself what time you think it is.

 

1966 $100 US Note

1966 $100 US Note

1990 $100 Federal Reserve Note

1990 $100 Federal Reserve Note

 

After looking at both of these I considered self evident that the time is 2:22. After trying to find information on the significance of the time I came across THIS ARTICLE that says the BEP and FED claim the time is 4:10. This sounds like evidence, unless you consider the source…I don’t know of a source with less credibility than the FEDS! It sounds more like they have a negative reaction to the use of the time 2:22 because it was used in the movie National Treasure.

You can look at these images and tell me they say 4:10, however, on both notes the hand near the 2 appears shorter, especially on the 1990 note.  I did have another professional numismatist tell me that you could establish the difference in time based on the shadows that are cast. I happen to think the difference in time wouldn’t lend itself to a wide variation in shadows.

"A N.W. view of the state house in Philadelphia taken 1778," by Charles Willson Peale. (detail) The Library of Congress.

“A N.W. view of the state house in Philadelphia taken 1778,” by Charles Willson Peale. (detail) The Library of Congress.

When I look at the $100 bill I always thought it was neat to see the history. What I found out in the process is that the clock wasn’t even on the tower during the revolution. It wasn’t until 1828 when the building was redesigned that the clock was moved from the front of the building to the tower.  Therefore it is clear that the time on the clock was not there for historical reasons.

When the new $100 bill came out in early 2014 (2009 dated) I was surprised to see a new time on the clock. It was moved from 2:22 (or 4:10 if you are stubborn) to 10:30. This time they made one hand on the clock noticeably shorter, so there would be no arguments. The only question  left is why 10:30? If the time had no meaning, then why change it? Was the old time really 4:10? Did they let the artist pick the time? Can we start a new conspiracy? According to the BEP both images are taken from the original sketches by J.C Benzing, done in 1928.

The changes were among the steps in the new counterfeiting measures taken by the BEP. In case you think that is too subtle of a change, the other change on the new hundred is more dramatic, but just as hard to notice. The new hundred has the back side of the property instead of the front side. These anti-counterfieting changes may all be necessary and the changing time may be meaningless, but I am going to stay indoors on the 30th of October this year!

2009 $100 Federal Reserve Note

2009 $100 Federal Reserve Note

Posted in: Currency, Education

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