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By Jacquie Foote As we have seen, most currency redesign…
September 26, 2013 | No Comments

By Jacquie Foote As we have seen, most currency redesign in the latter part of the 20th century came about because of the counterfeiters use…

By Jacquie Foote

As we have seen, most currency redesign in the latter part of the 20th century came about because of the counterfeiters use of more and more advanced technology. 1996 saw what is called the first significant design change in 67 years. The United States currency was redesigned to incorporate a series of new counterfeit deterrents.

The new bills were issued beginning with the $100 bill in 1996, followed by the $50 bill in 1997, the $20 bill in 1998 and the $10 and $5 bills in 2000. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing announced that new designs would be undertaken every seven to 10 years to stay ahead of currency counterfeiters.

Because of the impact terrorists could have attacking the United States through its currency, in 2003, protecting the security of the dollar against counterfeiting took its place alongside other homeland security efforts as the U.S. Secret Service became integrated into the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

October of that same year saw the redesign of the $20 bill. In an effort to stay ahead of currency counterfeiters, the new $20 bill featured subtle background colors of green, peach and blue, as well as images of the American eagle. It, thus, became the first of the redesigned U.S. currency using different colors for different denominations. It was said this change would also help everyone – particularly those with visual impairments – to tell denominations apart.

In September of 2004, the redesigned $50 bill was released. Similar to the redesigned $20 bill, the redesigned $50 bill featured subtle background colors and highlighted historical symbols of Americana – specific to the $50 bill were background colors of blue and red, images of a waving American flag and a small metallic silver-blue star.

On March 2, 2006, the redesigned $10 bill was issued as series 2004A. (The A in the series designation indicates a change in some feature of the bill, in this case, a change in the Treasurer’s signature.) As with the other redesigned bills, subtle shades of color and symbols of freedom were used to make it unique. Specific to the $10 bill were background colors of orange, yellow and red along with images of the Statue of Liberty’s torch and the words We the People from the U.S. Constitution.

On June 29, 2006, the U.S. government announced that it would redesign the $5 bill as part of ongoing efforts to enhance the security of U.S. currency. The redesigned $5 bill was shown on Sept. 20, 2007, through an all-digital unveiling … this being done for the first time ever. The actual redesigned Series 2006 $5 bill was issued on March 13, 2008. It retained two of the most important security features that were first introduced in the 1990s and are easy to check.

Finally, officials from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board and the United States Secret Service unveiled the new design for the $100 note on April 21, 2010. Complete with advanced technology to combat counterfeiting, the new design for the $100 bill retains the traditional look of U.S. currency. (Note that details of the advanced counterfeiting technology are closely held.)

The currency was redesigned pretty much in the order criminals usually choose to counterfeit them, with the $20 bill (the favorite) being changed first and the $1 bill being not bothered with. (I once had a child in my class who used the unattended library two-sided copier to photocopy a $1 bill to see if anybody would think it was real. But he is the only criminal Ive heard of to bother trying to make a fake $1 bill. Stern action by several authority figures in that childs life nipped his interest in counterfeiting in the bud.)

And, remember, dont get too used to the currency as it is now. If the Treasury Department holds to its announced schedule, newly designed bills containing the latest in anti-counterfeiting technology should start appearing between 2017 and 2020.

For information on the events at the Geauga County Historical Society’s Burton Century Village Museum, call 440-834-1492 or visit our website at

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