BOSTON — AMERICAN currency will soon be fully American-produced. Next year the dollar bill will be printed on United States-made equipment for the first time since the mid-1800s. The Treasury has selected an Alexander Hamilton press made by Stevens Graphics Corporation, an Ohio firm, to replace worn West German presses. The new press will be installed in February and start printing in August.
Nationalistic concerns did not determine the choice, says Nick Williamson, a spokesman for Stevens Graphics. ``The press was chosen for purely economic reasons. It's very cost effective.''
The output of the $10.2 million web intaglio press is 490,000 notes per hour, nearly double the previous machinery's capacity. Besides working faster, it speeds the process by printing both sides of the paper simultaneously. Previously, notes were printed on one side, then dried for 24 hours before the other side could be inked.
The combination of these capabilities and the fact that it feeds from a roll of paper rather than single sheets means this machine will take the place of four exhausted presses. The time savings are important because the $1 bill it will print is 40 percent of the paper money produced annually.
The new production capabilities also may confound counterfeiters. The press is capable of either micro-printing a band of letters on the paper's face or imbedding plastic threads in it to help distinguish the real item from funny money.
One thing won't change, however. Although this press can print in three colors, the dollar bill will remain a greenback.