Sticky Notes had a brilliant idea, although I don’t think he quite managed to pull off. Nevertheless, I shall invoke the Sullivan rule and “air” his findings without endorsement in hopes that the collective wisdom of the blogosphere will settle the issue.

Read his post. Here are the photos he pulled off the wires:

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Here, via Wikipedia, are the signatures of the last four Treasury Secretaries, which appear on the right side of the bill. Rubin served from 1995 to 1999, Summers until 2001, O’Neill until 2002, and Snow until July of this year. Henry Paulson’s name hasn’t appeared on the currency yet, I believe.

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The signature of the Treasurer of the United States appears on the left side of the bill. Here are the last three, beginning with Mary Ellen Withrow, who served from 1994 until 2001, followed by Rosario Marin from 2001 until 2003 and Anna Escobedo Cabral, who took over in late 2004.

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SN’s got a couple of side-by-side comparisons, but they’re not quite clear enough for me to feel comfortable with. The problem is, even if we can date the bills to 2001 or earlier, it doesn’t necessarily prove counterfeiting. $100 bills typically remain in circulation for an average of five years. Granted, at least one photographer on the scene described the bills as “crisp,” but it could very well be that Iran’s been sitting on a pile of old-but-genuine U.S. greenbacks.

This, however, is verrry interesting. I don’t know how to explain the variation in the seal. Any currency hobbyists out there have any ideas? The seal on the photo of the hundred at Wikipedia appears to be further away from the last zero than the seal on the same bill in this page at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, so maybe these things aren’t precise down to the millimeter. Although … isn’t that the whole point? To make them so identical that deviations in counterfeits are easier to spot?

Update: A quick check of my own wallet proves that the seals are not, in fact, exactly placed on each bill. Tanya comments below that they’re not the same on her money either. Which means we’re back to signature comparisons.

Update: “Retread” comments below that the woman in the top photo might be the same as the now-infamous lady with a scar (scroll down to section 4). Decide for yourselves. I think their noses and eyebrows are different.

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Then again, those eye sockets.