Seeing United States Currency being printed at The Bureau of Engraving and Printing – what could be a more exciting part of great family vacations?
We enjoyed this attraction on one of our wintertime family vacations Washington DC “history” trips, and it was one our favorite tours.
The Bureau is located on 14th & C Sts. SW in Washington DC. If you are visiting in March – August, you will need a free ticket for the tour. The ticket booth, which is located on 15th Street, is open at 8:00 AM. Be sure that you get there early, the tickets are usually gone by 9:00 AM.
Getting your Bureau of Engraving and Printing tickets
The way that our family handled the early ticket game was this…..
I got up early, and took the Metro to the Smithsonian stop. Then I stood in line for the tickets. The rest of the family just met me there at the time of our tour. Now you might ask how I got the great opportunity to go early and stand out in the cold? Well, lesser of two evils I guess – the early morning sibling bickering, or a nice quiet ride on the Metro all alone – you decide.
The tour was about 45 minutes long, and very informative. The guides were very open to answering any questions that the visitors might have. The tour is throughout the actual working Bureau. There is actual currency printing going on during the tour. The kids loved it, and the gift shop at the end of the tour was a real treat….
Things Learned during the tour
Some of the things that we learned on the tour that I thought were fascinating are……
- The notes (paper money currency) are inspected for any defects after the printing process. The notes are then overprinted to add the Federal Reserve District seal and its corresponding number designation with black ink, and the Treasury seal and serial numbers in green ink. If a defect is found after the serial number printing process, that bill is replaced with a “Star Note”. The “star note” looks just like the original bills, but the serial numbers are different, and there is a star after the serial number. The defective serial number is not used again.
- Currency paper is 25% linen and 75% cotton. It has red and blue synthetic fibers of various lengths distributed evenly throughout the paper. Before World War I the paper fibers were made of silk.
- Currency is printed with a process called Intaglio Printing which causes the surface of the note to feel slightly raised, and the reverse side to feel slightly indented.
This tour was one of the most interesting that we visited in Washington DC.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing Reviews
Bureau of Engraving and Printing Information
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Address: 14th & C Sts. SW
Washington DC 20228
Phone: 202-874-2330 or 866-874-2330
Metro Stop: Smithsonian
- If visiting March – August, plan to have someone be at the ticket booth on 15th Street before they open at 8:00 AM. The free tickets for the day will be gone by 9:00 AM.
- Plan to spend some time in the gift shop after the tour. There you can purchase uncut sheets of currency.
Visit the Bureau Website for more information.