Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

What a difference 24 hours makes here in Texas! Yesterday morning the temperature was in the low 40s, we had our little heater going and I stayed around under a blanket until almost noon. Today when I got up it was 59 degrees! Anyway, back to yesterday. With it being cool and windy I was not excited about stepping outside. John checked the tour books and found one place where we could be inside, which is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. We headed out and had a terrific day, not only at the bureau but also at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. I have no pictures of the bureau, not even of the outside. There is tight security there, needless to say. After parking we went into a visitor's center where we had to go through a security search.  We then boarded a bus which took us into a building where the currency of America is made- the only other place where it is made is Washington D.C. We had a guide who led us through viewing areas overlooking rooms where big sheets of paper are  fed into printing machines. The printed sheets are then manually examined, cut, and the final product is stacked into bricks. The bricks are loaded onto pallets and then are ready for transport for to the Federal Reserve Bank. That is a very simplistic explanation of what we saw, the production of our bank notes is a bit more complicated than that. Actually there is a lot of technology involved, much of which went over my head. There is the engraving of the bill, printing of it with many different colored inks( 19 tons of ink are used daily at both Fort Worth and Washington D.C) and adding security threads on the notes to prevent counterfeiting. The face of the bills are changed every 7 to 10 years also to prevent counterfeiting. The paper the notes are printed on are 75% cotton and 25% linen. The final product is tested in washing and crinkle machines and is soaked in 9 different solvents. The Bureau of Mutilated Currency has probably seen everything that the bills have been exposed to. The bureau is only located in D.C. and receives about 30,000 claims every year. If they can piece together 51% of your mutilated bill, they will refund your money. It may take some time as forest fires, tornadoes and floods slow them up a bit. I did not know that termites chew in circles! At the bureau I saw bills which had neat holes on them; if that happens to the bills you place under your bed, you can correctly assume you have termites.
By the time we finished our tour of the bureau the sun was out. We drove over to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. These gardens are almost as good as the Shaw Botanical Gardens in St.Louis, maybe even better because there is no entrance fee( you do have to pay $1.00 to tour the Conservatory). The above picture is a flower of the shell ginger plant, located in the Conservatory. We discovered, while walking through the gardens, that in the Dallas-Fort Worth area spring is well under way. Below is a picture of a Lenten rose; quite appropriate as in a couple of days we will be entering that season of the church year. It is in the buttercup family and native to Greece and Turkey.
I will conclude this posting with one more picture, that of the star magnolia flower.

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