Scholastic Kids Press Corps
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A New $5

New money unveiled in new way—an online press conference

By Ethan White | September 24 , 2007
The new $5 will feature a big purple modern number "5" on the back.  The bills will begin circulating in early 2008. (Photo: Bureau of Engraving and Printing)
The new $5 will feature a big purple modern number "5" on the back.  The bills will begin circulating in early 2008. (Photo: Bureau of Engraving and Printing)

The $5 bill will have a new look, including a big purple modern number "5" on the back. It sticks out like a sore thumb, but according to the U.S. Government, that’s the whole point. The new $5 is designed to make it hard to counterfeit and easier for the vision impaired to identify. The bills will begin circulating in early 2008.

The new look was recently unveiled in a new way. The announcement and unveiling came via digital press conference. With just a few minor glitches, the new and improved $5 bill made its official debut exclusively online, with about 100 reporters logging in. Scholastic News Online was there.

Questions and Answers

The digital unveiling included a question–and–answer session with four senior officials from U.S. government agencies:

  • Anna Escobedo Cabral, Treasurer of the United States
  • Larry Felix, Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  • Michael Lambert, Assistant Director of the Federal Reserve Board
  • Michael Merritt, Deputy Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service
First, I asked, "Who thinks of the new designs for the new bills?"

Treasurer Cabral replied. "It's a creative team at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing," she said. "They do a wonderful job of coming up with creative designs and presenting them to a committee staffed by the Federal Reserve, Secret Service, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Department of Treasury who make decisions on this."

The slogan for the new bill is "Safer. Smarter. More Secure." So I asked, "What makes the bill safer?"

"We believe these new security features on the $5 bill do a lot to stay ahead of the counterfeiters," said Merritt. "They minimize the ability of the counterfeiters to use these high–quality copying, printing, and scanning machines to reproduce genuine currency."

The unveiling also included an interactive $5 bill, which you can test for yourself online.

Online, you can also zoom in to see the specific details on the bill. There is also a feature to show you what the bill looks like under a black light.

I also asked how long it took to redesign and print the new bill.

"Well, I think the $5 is an example of an accelerated process," said Larry Felix from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. "It took us about 18 months with the $5. Typically, it takes a bit longer, about two years. And it really depends on the degree of security features that are incorporated into the notes."

To make sure your $5 bill is not a counterfeit, hold it up to the light and look for watermarks. A large number 5 is on the right and a small column of 5’s are on the left. You can also look for the security thread to the right of the President's portrait.

"It's actually quite important that people are aware of the changes we've made to currency so they can determine what is a genuine bill and what is not," said Cabral. "We're going to continue to make those types of changes every 7 to 10 years on the various notes so we can stay ahead of counterfeiters."

Critical Thinking Question

Read today’s story and answer the following question.

What do you think of the new $5?

Join a discussion of this question on our bulletin board.

About the Author

Ethan White is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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