- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2008

The new $5 bill issued by the Federal Reserve went into circulation yesterday at Abraham Lincoln’s cottage at the Soldiers’ Home in Washington, the president’s summer retreat.

Michael Lambert, Assistant Director of the Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems at the Federal Reserve Board, spent the first $5 bill on a book of President Lincoln’s speeches.

Mr. Lambert was joined by officials from the Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and U.S. Secret Service in introducing the new bill into circulation at the Lincoln Cottage gift shop.

Federal Reserve banks today will begin distributing 250 million new redesigned $5 bills bearing the president’s image to customer banks, which will then distribute them to businesses and consumers.

There are approximately 2 billion $5 bills already in use, a small percentage of the 780 billion U.S. bills currently in circulation. Of that, Mr. Lambert said only 61.4 million were counterfeit bills last year.

The new $5 bill incorporates new security features designed to be easy to use by cash handlers and consumers.

“The first thing the average person is going to see is the change of color,” Mr. Lambert said, noting the purple-to-gray transition on the bill. “The major change is moving from the portrait watermark … to the large number five.”

Mr. Lambert said he wants citizens to know where the new watermarks are and how to identify them in bills.

“What we’re trying to do is stay ahead of rapidly advancing technology to stay ahead of the counterfeiters,” he said.

A second watermark, a column of three smaller “5”s, is a new addition to the bill and positioned to the left of the portrait. In addition, an embedded security thread runs vertically on the right side of the bill and glows blue under ultraviolet light.

“Everyone who uses U.S. currency is on the front line of defense against counterfeiters,” said Michael Merritt, Deputy Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service. Mr. Merritt encouraged consumers to learn security features to avoid accepting a fake.

Children from the Tri-Community Public Charter School in Washington learned about the new bills from a lesson taught by Anna Cabral, the treasurer of the United States.

Additional elements of the new bills include the Great Seal of the United States, a large and easy-to-read number “5” for those with visual impairments, enhanced engravings and small yellow “O5”s printed on each side of the bill.

The next denomination scheduled for a redesign is the $100 bill, which Mr. Lambert said had not yet been finalized or approved by the treasury.

“We’re still working on it; We’ve made a lot of progress,” he said.

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