I ran across an interesting article on TechDirt this morning about a couple of bloggers who were playing around with a microscope and the US Visa and Border Crossing Card. What they found was quite interesting. On the back of the card is a strip of tiny etchings of every U.S. president and all the state flags. Nothing overly exciting, right?
The label for the 6th president of the United States is actually printed as “John Quincy Adames” – yes, you read that correctly. There apparently is a typo on official U.S. government documents. An “e” was either accidentally or purposely added to our sixth presidents last name.
That seems like a pretty big mistake. However, some are suggesting that it was done on purpose. In the comments to the Notcot post, two specific theories are presented: the first is that JQA changed his last name to distinguish himself from his father. Doing some quick searches around various bios of Adams, however, shows absolutely no support for this one. Even the White House’s own page on JQA spells it Adams and makes no mention of such a change.
The explanation TechDirt proposes is that the misspelling is a form of fraud and/or counterfeit detection. This makes sense and is the most plausible reason for the “error” assuming this is not an error. On such a seemingly innocuous document there has to be a variety of counterfeit detection options, similar to how U.S. currency has a number of security features.
No matter what the explanation, it is interesting this has never been found until now. It is also intriguing to see the lengths our government will go to protect its very own products, even something as relatively unimportant as the US Visa and Border Crossing card.