Just in time for spring, the government infused a little color into the $10-bill Thursday.
The new bill — featuring shades of orange, yellow and red — joined colorized versions of the $20 bill and the $50 bill as the Bureau of Engraving and Printing attempts to stay ahead of counterfeiters and ever-more sophisticated copying machines.
The Federal Reserve on Thursday began shipping the first of 800 million of the new $10 bills to commercial banks. In the next few days, those bills will start showing up in cash registers around the country.
Officials of the U.S. Treasury, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Federal Reserve and the Secret Service participated in a spending ceremony at the National Archives.
That location was selected because the new bill, which is still largely green, will feature in red letters the phrase “We the People” from the Constitution, which is housed at the Archives.
“Staying ahead of would-be counterfeiters is a top priority of the U.S. government and in order to do that our currency will need to be redesigned every seven to 10 years,” said U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral.
Cabral stood next to Michael Lambert, assistant director for the Fed’s payment system, who got the honor of spending the first new $10 bill at the Archives gift shop, where he purchased a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Lambert said a few people could see the new $10 bill as early as Thursday, but the timing will depend on when commercial banks order supplies of the new bills.
He stressed that the older design will continue to be valid currency for as long as it is in circulation.
The new $10 bill still features Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first Treasury secretary, on one side, and the Treasury building on the other side. But those two images are joined by the Statue of Liberty’s torch and “We the People” in red along with small yellow 10s and a subtle orange background.
The colorized $20 note went into circulation in 2003 and it was followed in 2004 by the newly designed $50 note.
The $100 bill is the next denomination scheduled to receive a dash of color. However, the introduction of that bill has been delayed while the government conducts a search for additional security features to protect the denomination that is the most frequently counterfeited outside of the United States.
Larry Felix, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, said his agency expected to receive recommendations this summer for what types of additional security features should be included on the $100 bill.
“It has to be a feature that the public can use,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It must work with the eyes and light so that it stands out.”
The hope is to introduce the $100 bill in 2007. There are no plans to colorize the $1 bill or the $5 bill.