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New $5 bill design debuts

A new, purple-tinged $5 Federal Reserve Note design will appear in circulation in early 2008.

A new, purple-tinged $5 Federal Reserve Note design will appear in circulation in early 2008. The new look was revealed to the public by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in a special online debut Sept. 20.

In addition to the color, immediately noticeable features of the new note are a large purple numeral ?5? on the back, small yellow 05s on the face and back, incorporation of part of the Great Seal of the United States on the face of the note and, when held up to the light, completely new watermarks.


?There are several changes with the new $5 bill,? said Larry Felix, director of the BEP. ?The most remarkable ones are the watermarks. What we?ve done is removed the Lincoln portrait watermark and replaced it with two separate watermarks.?

Where the Lincoln portrait watermark appears on earlier $5s, at the right end of the note when looking at the face side, there is a large numeral ?5? watermark on the new bill. Additionally, a column of three smaller ?5? watermarks are found to the left of the central Lincoln portrait. The watermarks are visible from both sides when the note is held up to the light.


The embedded security thread has also been changed. On earlier notes it was located to the left of the portrait, and on the new $5 it is to the right of the portrait. The letters USA followed by the number ?5? in an alternating pattern along the thread are visible from both sides.

Moving the security thread was of prime importance to officials. The older location of the thread was too similar to the location of the thread on the $100 bill. Apparently counterfeiters have been bleaching the designs off $5s and using the genuine paper to print fake $100s.

As for changes to the the main design features, the oval borders around Lincoln?s portrait on the front, and around the Lincoln Memorial vignette on the back, have been removed. Lincoln?s portrait has been raised and his shoulders extended into the design border. Details have been added, including an addition of clouds above the Lincoln Memorial on the back.

Another security feature, microprinting, is found in three spots on the face side of the new note: the words FIVE DOLLARS are repeated at the left and right borders of the bill, E PLURIBUS UNUM is at the top of the shield within the Great Seal and USA is repeated between the columns of the shield.

On the back at lower right, USA FIVE is microprinted along one edge of the large purple ?5.?

This large ?5,? larger than on any previous numerals in similar locations on current U.S. notes, is intended to help people with visual impairments distinguish the denomination. The overall purple tint gradient on face and back helps accomplish this.

?What this design is screaming out to you is, ?I?m a $5, I?m a $5. You need to pay attention, I?m a $5,? And it?s really done so that users can be assured that they have a $5 bill,? Felix said.

The new $5 notes are expected to enter circulation in early 2008. The design shown Sept. 20 bears a Series 2006 date, with signatures of Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral.

?The government uses the best tools available so that it will be unlikely that you will receive a counterfeit bill,? said Cabral. ?Improved security features are at the heart of this currency series ? security features that are easy for everyone to use. Learn how to use them, so you don?t lose your hard-earned money in the unlikely event that someone tries to pass a counterfeit bill to you.?

All previous federal $5 bills remain legal tender; there is no planned recall or need to exchange older bills.

This was the first online-only debut of a new U.S. note design.

Officials from the Treasury, Federal Reserve, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and Secret Service spoke in a prepared online video that became available online at 9 a.m. Eastern time.

In addition to Felix and Cabral, participating in the online video were from the Federal Reserve Board, Michael Lambert, Assistant Director of the Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems; and from the U.S. Secret Service, Michael Merritt, Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Investigations.

The $100 Federal Reserve Note will be the next denomination to be redesigned. The government has no plans to redesign $1 and $2 bills.

Additional information, interactive images and educational downloads are available online at

For more on the design debut, visit David Kranz's blog, Digital Watermark.