Seal of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
U.S. Department of the Treasury 

Home » U.S. Currency » How Money is Made » Currency Overprinting Processing Equipment (COPE)

U.S. Currency


How Money is Made - Currency Overprinting Processing Equipment (COPE)
The acronym COPE stands for Currency Overprinting Processing Equipment. COPE presses in this section utilize the letter press printing process which is the third and final type of printing utilized by BEP for paper currency.

The acronym COPE stands for Currency Overprinting Processing Equipment. COPE presses have been specifically designed for the BEP and they utilize the letter press printing process.  This is the third and final type of printing utilized by BEP for paper currency. This press takes a 16-subject sheet of currency and adds the two serial numbers, the black universal Federal Reserve seal, the green Department of the Treasury seal, and the corresponding Federal Reserve identification numbers.


As sheets pass through the COPE process, they are inspected by the COPE Vision Inspection System. The system alerts the COPE pressmen to sheets whose COPE attributes are potentially not up to standardized specifications, checking them using grayscale technology for position of the COPE features and correctness of the serial numbers, prefixes, suffixes, and bank numbers. The computer compares the scan of the sheets against a database containing captured images and numeric qualities and, in 200 milliseconds, decides whether or not to accept or reject the sheet. If a sheet is identified as being defective by the system, it is pulled in order to make a final determination as to whether or not it should continue through the process. If the sheet is indeed defective, they will replace it with a star sheet. Star sheets contain 16 notes and are exactly like the sheets they replace; however, a "star" appears after the serial number in place of the suffix letter on each of the notes.


The currency sheets are then gathered into piles of 100. The pile continues down the transport where it passes through two sharp guillotine cutters. The first cut is made horizontally, leaving the notes in pairs. The second cut is made vertically, and for the first time you see individual notes. A denomination paper band is wrapped around each group of 100 notes to form a strap. Ten straps are then stacked, with each strap alternately turning 180 degrees, to ensure an even, balanced stack.  The ten straps of 100 notes (totaling 1,000 notes) are then banded together and machine counted before they are shrink-wrapped, forming a bundle. Four, shrink-wrapped bundles are labeled, collated together, and then shrink-wrapped again to create a brick of 4,000 notes.


COPE Total Number of Bills
100 bills equal 1 strap 100 bills
10 straps equal 1 bundle 1,000 bills
4 bundles equal 1 brick 4,000 bills