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Liberty’s torch burns on new $10

Under crystal-clear perfection on a fall day Sept. 28 on Ellis Island in New York Harbor, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the Secret Service unveiled the new $10 Federal Reserve Note.

Led by remarks from signers John W. Snow as Secretary of the Treasury and Anna Escobedo Cabral as U.S. Treasurer, scores of guests and members of the worldwide media, transported by morning ferries for the event, saw the nation’s newly designed Series 2004A sawbuck for the first time.

The note is expected to begin showing up in general circulation early next year.

Carrying its own distinctive background coloration, with the image of the Statue of Liberty’s torch and a very distinctive rose-colored “We the People” to the right of the portrait, the note continues the familiar large-head portrait and other basic design features of the current issue.

The new $10 Federal Reserve Note follows in the tradition of the redesigned $20 introduced in 2003, and the $50 introduced in 2004. The Treasury has announced that the $100 is next in line for redesign, but that there are no plans to change the $5, the $2 or the $1 at this time.

Citing safety, smarts and security, government officials said the new features were added to the note to make it easier to verify as authentic, more difficult to counterfeit and to continue the effort to ensure that U.S. currency remains the global standard in integrity.

The country’s four highest paper denominations now are being redesigned every 7-10 years to stay ahead of counterfeiters and reproduction technology.

Commenting on Alexander Hamilton, whose portrait appears on the $10, Snow drew a laugh by observing that he is a “most revered predecessor, and the one who gives all Treasury secretaries an inferiority complex.”

Pointing out that two-thirds of the U.S. currency in circulation is in the hands of individuals and institutions overseas, and is particularly prevalent in Latin America, Cabral pledged to carry the “Safer. Smarter. More Secure.” message to all holders of our notes.

Speaking in addition to Snow and Cabral were Roger W. Ferguson Jr., vice chairman of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System; Thomas A. Ferguson, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing; and W. Ralph Basham, director the Secret Service.

Citing the 300-percent increase in U.S. currency outstanding over the last 20 years, to $730 billion, Roger Ferguson echoed the need for continuous “vigilance for tomorrow’s risks,” while praising the current “first-rate enforcement.”

As the five crowded together beside the shrouded display, the entire fabric wall behind the stage was whisked away in dramatic fashion as the face and back designs were revealed. This gave the audience a first glimpse of the designs against the dramatic background of the Statue of Liberty under a flawless blue sky. 

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