The $50 bill is the third note to undergo color treatment in an attempt to thwart counterfeiters.
updated 9/28/2004 3:11:51 PM ET 2004-09-28T19:11:51

A new $50 bill with touches of red, blue and yellow hit the streets Tuesday and a new $10 bill is in the works. It would be the third greenback to get colorized to cut back on counterfeiting.

The new $50s soon will be showing up at banks, cash registers and wallets. Government officials used one of the new $50s on Tuesday morning to buy a $45 U.S. flag, which came in a box, at a shop in Union Station. Old $50 bills will continue to be accepted and recirculated until they wear out.

As for plans for the new $10 bill, Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary, is expected to stay on the front, with the Treasury Department remaining on the back, Thomas Ferguson, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, said in an interview.

Various efforts have emerged to put former President Ronald Reagan on the nation’s currency, on the $10 bill or the $20 bill, or possibly the dime. However, thus far, they have gone nowhere.

The new $10 bill is expected to be unveiled this spring and put into circulation in fall 2005. That last time the note got a new look was in 2000, when Hamilton’s portrait became oversized and moved slightly off center.

Bureau of Printing and Engraving
Newly redesigned $50 notes, featuring subtle background colors of blue and red, images of a waving American flag and a small metallic silver-blue star, were issued Tuesday.
“As with the $50 and the $20, there will be subtle background tones and tints. They will be different from those used on the other two so each of the notes will start to be even more distinctive and easier for people to differentiate quickly,” Ferguson said. He wouldn’t say what the colors on the new $10 would be.

Colors for the redesigned notes vary by denomination.

After the $10 makeover comes the $100 bill, the most counterfeited note outside the United States, Ferguson said. The $5 bill won’t get a new look, and neither will the $1 and $2 notes, he said.

A new $100 note was supposed to follow the new $50, but that changed because the bureau is considering additional security features for the $100 bill. A timetable for a new $100 bill hasn’t been set.

The colorizing project is part of a broader effort to make the bills harder to counterfeit, especially against the backdrop of readily available digital technology.

“We’ve been working closely in cooperation ... with the manufacturers of ink jet printers, editing software, computer software in order to make it more difficult for people to be able to use that kind of technology to counterfeit,” Ferguson said. As part of that effort, certain technology also has been incorporated in the new $20s, $50s and eventually the new $10s, he said.

The $20 bill, the most counterfeited note in the United States, was the first to get extra color. Featuring touches of peach, blue and yellow, the new $20 went into circulation last fall.

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