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Newsletter #218, November 14, 2011

Bank of Canada Releases the First Polymer Bank Note

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The Bank of Canada unveiled the new polymer $100 note in Toronto with regional events across the country. The theme of the note is to celebrate Canada's contributions to medical research. Locally, the event was held at the Life Sciences Institute at UBC.

The use of polymer as a substrate, already used in countries such as Australia and New Zeland, has many advantages. The first is security as polymer allows for the use of transparent and semi-transparent designs that are next to impossible to coumterfeit. Polymer is also very durable, the current cotton-paper notes can last up to 7 years, but the polymer notes will last up to 20 years and at that pont can be recycled.

The front of the note has the portrait of Sir Robert Borden, the 8th Prime Minister of Canada who served from 1911 to 1920 when Canada came of age on the world stage during the First World War. The white "window" to the right of the portrait is a transparent area that contains a second portrait printed with metallic ink and one of the towers of the West Block of Parliament printed in holographic colours. In between are semi-transparent text and numbers.

The large "100" to the left, the lapels on Borden's jacket and the "Bank of Canada" phrases are all printed with raised ink to allow those with impaired vision to identify the note. The bars at both ends of the note can be read by scanners to identify the denomination.

One other noticable difference from the old notes is that there are no engraving lines, the images were created digitally by computer softwear.

The window on the back of the note has the identical portrait and tower images. The main image is a researcher peering into a microscope, representing Canada's contribution to medical research in general. Next to her is a string of DNA acknowleding Canada's contribution to DNA research and decoding the human genome. Below the researcher is a vial of insulin, discovred and first made in Canada and to the left of that is an EKG display to acknowledge the invention of the first pacemaker first used here in the 60's.

The white maple leaf is another transparent window and the dot in the centre of the grey maple leaf is a special security feature. If you hold the note close to your eye and look through the dot to focus on a distant point source of light, a circle of 100's will appear to float in space.

Reaction by the public in the press has been mixed, most people saying that they rarely use the $100 denomination and shop owners who currently don't accept hundreds say they will continue the practice.

The new fifty's will be coming out in March, 2012 and the final 3 denominations will be released in 2013.

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Newsletter #219
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