Can the new polymer $100 be crumpled?
Martine Warren, a scientific advisor for the Bank of Canada has a close look at the bank's new circulating $100 bill, Canada's first polymer bank note, in Toronto on Monday Nov. 14, 2011. (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Geoff Nixon, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, November 19, 2011 12:25PM EST
Canada's newly released plastic money may be a public curiosity, but it doesn't appear to be attracting much attention at my local bank.
Two days after the new $100 bills entered circulation, a Toronto bank teller told me that I was one of the first people to come in looking for one of the high-tech bank notes.
She bent under a desk, opened a box and handed me a crisp $100.
Not normally being a high-roller type myself, it was one of the rare times in my life that I have held a $100 bill in my hands.
First impressions? The bills feel a bit like the type of smooth paper that a receipt or a movie ticket gets printed on, because they have a similar slippery feel and texture.
The newfangled bills also have see-through portions and a spring-like quality to them. When I rolled my mint-condition $100 bill up from end to end, it unfurled in an instant.
When I did the same with a pair of paper $20 bills I took out of an ATM, they got stuck halfway.
And I felt a strong desire to wash my hands after touching the existing bills. Because unlike the brand new $100 in my wallet, it's hard to know where the old-school $20s have been.
Some of my CTV colleagues had questions about how the $100 would stand up to various stresses.
One person wanted to know what would happen if I "poured coffee on it."
After a applying a small drip of coffee to the bill, I (thankfully) found out that you can easily wipe it off.
And similarly, if you put the bill under a faucet, it doesn't stay soggy once you pat it dry.
For those wondering if the bill can be crumpled, the answer to that is -- yes. But my question to you is: Who crumples a $100 bill?
When you squish it into a ball, it does not stay as compact as an equivalent paper bill. It unfurls a bit.
And like a paper bill, when you smooth it out again, a plastic bill keeps some of the wrinkles it acquired when being crumpled.
The new $100 can also be folded.
In the case of both folding or crumpling, the plastic bill makes a different noise than its paper predecessors. The same goes if you are stuffing said bill into a wallet.
Every Canadian who uses cash will get a chance to touch a plastic bank note at some point, because all of our bills will have a polymer version within two years.
For those who aren't in any hurry to make the switch to a plastic currency, they should have quite a bit of time to ease themselves into the transition.
Because Bank of Canada spokesperson Julie Girard tells me that some 290 million traditional $100 bills were believed to be in circulation when the new bills became available on Monday.
Over time, I expect that the more people that get their hands on the new bills, the more YouTube videos that will pop up illustrating the types of abuse they can survive.
The same type of thing happened in the ‘90s, when people tried to poke the middle out of newly released toonies.
Or when Star Trek fans used black markers to turn the image of Sir Wilfrid Laurier on the old $5 bill into a picture of Mr. Spock. I first saw Weird Al Yankovic perform this trick on MuchMusic years ago.
One other thing about the new bills will be important to kids: They can be safely tucked into birthday cards, just like their forefathers.
That means there should be no decline in annual birthday revenues when their cards get mailed out in the years to come, when all of our funny money comes into circulation.