Treasury Department gives Lincoln, Hamilton makeovers
November 16, 1999
From Reporter Kathleen Koch
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Treasury Department has new $5 and $10 greenbacks on the way that feature a makeover for Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton.
The redesigned currency is the latest in the federal government's efforts to foil counterfeiters, an effort that Treasury officials say has cut the number of phony bills passed in the U.S. to one-tenth of one percent.
"The off-center portrait (of Lincoln and Hamilton) has been enlarged; the fine lines printed behind both the portraits are now much more difficult to replicate than the earlier original," said Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.
Other changes include a hidden portrait or watermark of Lincoln and Hamilton, and an embedded polymer security thread on the right side of the $10 bill and the left side of the $5 bill.
The new bills will go into circulation by next summer, and the old bills will remain in use until they wear out, in about two years, the department said.
Treasury officials say the new designs, which are much harder to replicate than the old, are not the only reason successful counterfeiting has dropped dramatically in the U.S. They say store clerks are doing their part as well.
As examples, the Treasury has cited the efforts of people such as Wal-Mart employee Burnetta Travis. She helped foil a $56,000 counterfeiting operation when she caught a man trying to buy a carton of cigarettes with a bogus $100 bill.
"When I rubbed on the back, turned on the back, it was very dark, and it rubbed off on my hand," Travis said. In honoring Travis and other workers who were alert to counterfeit bills, U.S. Treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow urged that citizens become aware of the security features now being added to U.S. currency.
But Jim Johnson, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for enforcement, said most counterfeit activity now is overseas. In response, the U.S. is working with countries such as Colombia to beef up their anti-counterfeiting laws and procedures.
U.S. Mint invites online comments for new dollar coin
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