CNN/Money 
Personal Finance
graphic

New $50 bills unveiled
The federal government announces the latest currency redesign: U.S. Grant puts on a new face.
April 26, 2004: 2:12 PM EDT
By Gordon T. Anderson, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The Bureau of Engraving and Printing Monday unveiled a redesigned version of the $50 bill, the latest in a series of currency redesigns intended to thwart counterfeiters.

 
The new $50 front (click to enlarge)

The decision to redesign the $50 was made last year, and announced simultaneously with the new $20. Those smaller-denomination bills were released to the public beginning in October 2003.

The new look of the $50s was displayed at a ceremony at a printing plant in Fort Worth, Tex., where the notes are to be made. Production will begin this summer, according to Bureau spokeswoman Dawn Haley, and the new $50s should enter general circulation at the end of September or beginning of October.

 
The new $50 back (click to enlarge)

Generally speaking, the bills follow the aesthetic guidelines set out by the $20.

For example, pastel tones will augment the old green and black color scheme, even more vibrantly than on the new $20. Ulysses S. Grant will continue to be pictured, but his face appears more prominently, as Andrew Jackson's does on the $20.

The number 50 is presented in a variety of newly introduced fonts. On the back, the engraving of the Capitol Building has been altered slightly as well.

Fun Facts about the $50
graphic
The $50 debuted in 1862
Ulysses S. Grant has been on the $50 since 1913.
The average lifespan of a $50 is five years.
There are approximately 1.2 billion, or $58.2 billion, $50s in circulation.

"This $50 note is beautifully designed and includes important anti-counterfeiting features," said Federal Reserve Board governor Mark Olson, in a speech made at the unveiling ceremony. Fighting note forgery, he added, "is a job that's never finished."

Although colorization is the most immediately visible difference between the new and old bills, other anti-counterfeiting features may be more technologically significant. These include an embedded plastic strip running vertically; a watermark image engrained into the paper itself; and color-shifting ink, whose appearance changes as you tilt the bill against light.

When the $20 was unveiled, the Bureau launched a large, consumer-focused marketing campaign to explain the redesign to the public. The government spent about $12 million in advertising, and arranged product placement deals to insert the bills onto a number of national TV shows, including the game shows "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune," and sporting events aired on ESPN and ABC.

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Currency
Counterfeit bills
Federal Reserve

This time, "there will be more of a business-to-business focus to our public education efforts," said Haley. The Bureau is working with vending machine makers and others to ensure a smooth rollout when the new $50s are released in the fall.

When the $20 launched, a snafu arose involving self-service cashiers, those new, do-it-yourself checkout machines. A handful of the machines did not update their optical-recognition software to read the redesigned notes -- a small glitch, but one that left the BEP red-faced nonetheless.

"The technology was so new, we missed a few," acknowledged Haley.  Top of page




  More on PERSONAL FINANCE
How can I protect my investments from inflation?
How to catch up on retirement savings in your 50s
How do you know you're really ready to retire early?
  TODAY'S TOP STORIES
7 things to know before the bell
SoftBank and Toyota want driverless cars to change the world
Aston Martin falls 5% in its London IPO




graphic graphic