Saturday, October 23, 2010
US BUREAU OF ENGRAVING AND PRINTING
I never would have guessed that this Family Friendly Free-bee existed. I thought that anything to do with US currency would be under such tight security, that the public would never be able to get this close. Boy was I wrong! Our trip to the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing building outside of Fort Worth, TX was an amazing one. Now, I do have to give you a little heads up on this one, they give free tours of the printing floor, but only if you get there before 2 p.m. We got there a little after 2 o’clock and wondered if it would be worthwhile to stay and walk through the lobby area without getting to go out onto the printing floor. We decided to stay and check it out, thinking that maybe we would try to make it back through there another time. We were not disappointed.
The first thing that thrilled the boys was the high tech metal detectors that we each had to go through at the main entrance. Just going through the revolving doors into the detector brought smiles to the faces of boys who live for gadgets and anything that suggests “spy” technology. After that, you get the free bus ride to the main building. These, in themselves were cool, but the printing plant was no slouch either.
The main building has two floors of hands on exhibits that not only educate in the printing of money and the art of engraving, but also have some pretty neat interactive displays. In our family, we each had to take a turn using the giant magnifying glass to look at regular money up close. Did you know that on the $100 bill, the numbers 100 are not filled in with green ink? They are actually filled in with tiny green “US 100” symbols. That’s one of the many things that we learned from looking at money under a magnifying glass. The complex images on money are pretty amazing.
We also got to see a short movie that takes you onto the printing floor in the main plant. Every step of engraving and printing money is explained in detail with lots of video. We came away with the conclusion that if we had gotten there a little earlier, we would have probably enjoyed the tour through the actual plant, but by going through the exhibits and the video tour, we really hadn’t missed much. This one is a 5 thumbs up from the Martin Boys with one exception; Brendan was a little disappointed that they didn’t give us any free samples of money as we were leaving. Come to think of it, I was a little disappointed too.