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Travel with Bennett-Watt and discover the Currency Paper Museum in Dalton Massachusetts where you can learn about the production ...
process of paper currency and its history.
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Male: In Western Massachusetts, the Taconic and Hoosac Mountains, rolling hills, dense forest, farms, rural villages, and small towns—this is the Berkshires. Rural in scenic, the Berkshires are punctuated by smattering of industry. It was here paper for Paul Revere’s first paper currency was made and Crane still makes the paper for America’s currency.
Peter Hopkins: In the 1800, every national pact was allowed to produce its own currency and so Crane contracted either directly with the banks or within gravers to produce currency paper for literally thousands of banks around the United States. Now during the civil war, United States’ currency was National Life because counterfeiting was a very serious problem so we wanted to create a single look so the people could recognize across the country that a bill was genuine. And Crane got its first contract to produce United States currency paper in 1879 and has won bids ever since.
Male: This is paper made from cotton fibers and not wood pulp and it’s a process that’s changed a little over the last 200 years though it has been mechanized, the elements of the process are very similar.
Peter Hopkins: This is the Crane’s pioneer vial. Today we are making raw materials for United States currency paper. Using an open vial here, thread—so it’s a cotton thread that’s being sorted for contaminants such as plastic, pieces of metal anything that’s not cotton. And after it goes through the inspection process, it goes to a large industrial shredder to tear down this little pieces of thread into individual cotton fibers.
Cotton and linen fibers used to make currency paper contains certain amount of contaminants, things that are not cellulous. In order to remove those contaminants, Crane literally cooks these fibers in a giant rotating grinder filled with water, steam and chemical solution and they are cooked for about an hour and a half or two and half hours depending on the level of contaminants to get it cleaned and bleach and made it into raw materials.
After the fibers have been cooked, they need to be washed and they need to be shortened because they are too long to be made in paper at the moment. So they go into a large machine that’s actually an industrial laundry. But also they are rotating blades in there which cuts the fibers half way the length the paper made. After the fibers have been washed and cut halfway the length, they are ready to go to the paper machine but we have to get them from here to the paper machine. But now, they are mostly water so we’ve got to get a significant amount of the water out of this pulp, this one is to extract out the water.
So we modified the paper machine here which by suction and by gravity takes water out through a removable screen, the pulp is being picked up by a couple of moving felts and then it goes through some press rollers to get the moisture out that way. And then it stack on skids by what we called the wept-lap machine because it wept and laps back and forth.