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Lincoln's New Face

New $5 bill unveiled at Lincoln's Cottage

By Madison Hartke-Weber | null null , null
Kid Reporter Madison Hartke-Weber examines the new $5 bill with Pamela Gardiner of the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing. (Photo courtesy Madison Hartke-Weber)<br />
Kid Reporter Madison Hartke-Weber examines the new $5 bill with Pamela Gardiner of the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing. (Photo courtesy Madison Hartke-Weber)

The newest, safest, and most colorful $5 bill was recently put into circulation in a most appropriate way.

Last week, Michael Lambert of the Federal Reserve Board bought a copy of "Great Speeches by Abraham Lincoln" in the gift shop of Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, D.C. It was the first purchase made with the new $5 bill.

The new currency still features President Lincoln on the face of the bill. But it is safer, smarter, and more secure, according to the government, thanks to several new security features.

The bill now has two watermarks. They are both on the front of the bill, and they can be seen when one holds the bill up to the light. One is a large number 5, while the other consists of a row of three smaller number 5s. Watermarks—faint symbols that are embedded into the special paper that currency is printed on—are designed to distinguish genuine bills from fake ones.

Another new feature is an updated security thread. When the bill is held up to the light, one can see the thread running through the center of it. Under ultraviolet light, this security thread glows blue. The new bill also features purple ink along with the traditional green ink.

The Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Department of Treasury designed the new $5 bill. The United States Secret Service, which was created by Abraham Lincoln to protect our banking system, is a third agency involved in this process.

The updates to the bill were needed due to problems with counterfeiting—making fake money—in the United States, said Michael Merritt, the deputy assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service.

Anna Escobedo Cabral, the treasurer of the United States, was also on hand at Lincoln's Cottage. She gave a tutorial to fifth-grade students from the Tri-Community Public Charter School on how to distinguish a real $5 dollar bill from a fake one.

One of the students, Uloma Nwaolu, was impressed with the new bill's security features. "It's important to use these so that counterfeit notes won't be spread around the country," she said.

A segment of the new five dollar bill.
(Photo courtest US Bureau of Engraving and Printing)

Treasurer Escobedo Cabral answered a lot of questions from students, including explaining exactly what her job is. "The treasurer is the second [top] position in the Department of the Treasury," she said. "They report to the Secretary of the Treasury. The Department of the Treasury is like the country's checkbook. Our main job is to manage borrowed money and pay bills, like the way a family does."

You can find Cabral's signature on every piece of paper money that has been issued since she became Treasurer in 2004. The Tri-Community students admired her beautiful handwriting. She told them that she worked very hard practicing cursive writing, beginning when she was in second grade.

The students also learned how money is designed. "The bill is created mostly by one designer and one engraver, but other designers and engravers help out and offer advice," said Pamela Gardiner of the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Gardiner also said that it took almost two years to create the design for the new $5 bill. When engravers create a bill, they work in the exact same size as the dollar bill that we all use, according to Gardiner. They have to use powerful magnifying glasses to help them see while they create the tiny designs.

Right now, a new $100 bill is being designed that will also contain new security features. "The bill is still a secret, and I can't tell you what it looks like," Treasurer Cabral told the students. "It will be very colorful, though!"

About the Author

Madison Hartke-Weber is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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