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Light Exposure — Authenticating our Ben Franklins

The $100 bill contains a watermark, a portrait of Ben Franklin, visible only when held up to light.

Did you know a drawing for the watermark portrait of Ben Franklin hidden in the $100 bill was created by The Woodlands’ local area artist Maria Renaud?

Yes, the $100 bill contains a watermark, a drawing of Ben Franklin, visible only when held up to light. This process of seeing the watermark drawing is part of what authenticates the bill.

Originally from Brazil, Maria is an artist who specializes in currency art. She studied at Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro and under the tutelage of her brother, Bosco Renaud, a world-class expert in currency security art. These talented siblings both worked at Casa de Moeda do Brasil (The Brazilian Mint) and later for Thomas De La Rue, the famed British banknote manufacturer before working in currency security art for The United States of America.

A collection of precisely drawn historical figures by Maria, including Ben Franklin, are currently on display at S.W.A.G. (South Woodlands Art Gallery). Stay tuned for more details on Maria and Bosco’s “Currency Art Show” to debut next year in The Woodlands.