March 14, 2008 in Nation/World

Federal Reserve unveils colorful, high-tech $5 bill

Ben Dubose Los Angeles Times
 

Remaking our money

The Treasury began introducing redesigned currency in 2003, starting with the $20 bill. A new $10 bill was introduced in 2004, followed by the $50 bill in 2006. Next in line for a face-lift is the $100 bill, though a release date has not been set.

WASHINGTON – Sprinkled with pastel colors and armed with new features to thwart counterfeiters, the latest version of the $5 bill went into circulation Thursday with a gift shop purchase at President Lincoln’s newly renovated summer cottage at the Soldiers’ Home.

The portrait of Abraham Lincoln remains front and center on the new bill, and the image of the Lincoln Memorial is still on the back. To honor the 16th president, Federal Reserve Board Assistant Director Michael Lambert completed the first transaction by buying a book of Lincoln’s speeches for $2.88.

For the next three weeks, any commercial bank, savings and loan or credit union that requests $5 bills from a Federal Reserve office will have its order filled exclusively with the new designs. This assures that the new currency will make its way into the mainstream “almost immediately,” Lambert said.

Officials said the Federal Reserve would release about 212 million of the new bills in the next three weeks, adding to the nearly 2 billion $5 bills already in circulation. Lambert said the government has already worked with manufacturers to ensure that vending machines – among the most common uses for $5 bills – are adjusted to accept the new bills.

The new $5 bill displays several aesthetic changes.

The center of the new bill features a light purple that fades into gray at the bill’s edges. Purple stars surround Lincoln’s head, replacing the old border. On the back, a large 5 is printed on the lower right-hand corner in high-contrast purple ink. A series of the numerals 05 is printed in small yellow type to the left of the portrait on the front and to the right of the Lincoln Memorial on the back.

The color changes were made primarily to help the visually impaired.

The more important security measures, however, include subtle changes to watermarks and the bill’s security thread. One new watermark includes a large 5 to the right of Lincoln’s portrait, replacing a watermark of Lincoln. The other watermark is larger and to the left of the portrait, containing a column of three small 5s.

The watermarks are a part of the bill’s paper itself and can be seen from both sides.

The security thread was moved from the left of the portrait to the right. It contains the letters USA followed by the number 5, and, like the watermarks, is embedded in the bill and visible from both sides. The thread glows blue when held under ultraviolet light.


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