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U.S. introduces colorful new $10
Bill is latest in series meant to thwart counterfeiters of U.S. currency.
September 28, 2005: 5:46 PM EDT
By Rob Kelley, CNN/Money staff writer
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Alexander Hamilton's image adorns the new $10 bill

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A redesigned $10 bill with new background colors meant to thwart counterfeiters was unveiled Wednesday at a ceremony on Ellis Island in New York Harbor.

The new $10 bill follows the introduction of new $20 and $50 bills in each of the last two years.

"The new $10 note design continues the U.S. Government's efforts to make our currency safer, smarter, and more secure," Dawn Haley of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing said in a statement announcing the new bill.

"Not only is the new $10 state-of-the-art, it's also a beautifully designed currency note and we're confident the public will agree."

The new bill -- still featuring the visage of Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary -- is expected to be in circulation early next year.

"The intention was not to create a counterfeit-proof note -- which is basically impossible -- but one that's harder to duplicate and easier to authenticate," said Eric Zahren, spokesman for the Secret Service. "The new designs have definitely improved upon our efforts in detection and enforcement."

The new features are necessary because printing has improved dramatically in recent years with digital technology.

"Ten years ago, 1 percent of (counterfeit) bills were produced on digital equipment," said Zahren. "These days, 56 percent are produced on digital equipment, and the technology is more accessible to the general population."

The $10 features three major security improvements. The color of the ink on the lower right side changes from copper to green when the bill is shifted under the light. U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral used the phrase "Tilt your ten" to teach people about the new feature.

Holding the bill up to light reveals the second security feature: a faint image, or watermark, on the right of Alexander Hamilton.

Finally, there is a security thread running through the bill that says "USA Ten" when held to the light.

The bill features Cabral's signature, as well as that of Treasury Secretary John Snow.

A redesigned $10 bill was last introduced in 2000.

The new note was a long time in the making, said Eugenie Foster, cash manager for the Federal Reserve.

"It takes a year from the point at which we finish the design until the notes get in circulation," she said. "We do a number of test printings to make sure we can make the note looking like we want it. And we have to work with manufacturers of vending equipment -- like ATMs -- to get their software ready for the new notes."

Three federal agencies collaborate on the introduction of new bills.

The Treasury handles design, printing and production of the notes. The Federal Reserve introduces them into circulation by providing them to banks. The Secret Service is in charge of protecting the currency and enforcing anti-counterfeiting rules, according to Foster.

The new notes cost about 8 cents apiece to produce, she said. The addition of an extra printing step -- for the new colors -- added to the cost. She could not say how much the total cost of introducing the new bills was.

"We don't break out the cost," said Foster. "We've got research and development (for new features) going on continually."

The Federal Reserve spends $500 million annually buying money for public use -- mostly to replace currency that's worn.

The Treasury Department says the government intends to stay ahead of counterfeiters by updating U.S. currency every seven to 10 years.

Public education is also an important component when the government introduces new bills.

"[The Secret Service is] engaged in enforcement and public education -- educating banks, retailers, money handlers and the general public," said Zahren at the Secret Service. "It's vital that we keep the banking industry up to speed on identifying and authenticating bills."

"We've actually seen a slight uptick in counterfeiting since the new bills (the $20 and $50) were introduced," said the Federal Reserve's Foster. "Counterfeiters try to take advantage of people's unfamiliarity with the bills, and that's why public education is so important."

She said that such an uptick was typical, and that the new features would help curb counterfeiting in the long run.

The $100 note will be the next denomination to be redesigned, to be unveiled in early 2006, according to the Treasury.

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Already missing the old $10? For our very own ode from our very own Allen Wastler, click here.

For a look at the anticipation of the new $10, click here.

For all the latest headlines in Economy, click here.  Top of page

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