WASHINGTON (AP) -- Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton are getting high-tech makeovers, an effort to foil computer-savvy
counterfeiters trying to pass off phony $5 and $10 bills. Both bills will have several new features, but it's the super-size portraits that most folks will notice first.
The bigger and slightly off-center portraits of President Lincoln on the $5 bill and Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury secretary, on the $10 bill are similar to what was done to President Andrew Jackson on last year's new $20 bill.
The redesigned $5 and $10 bills were unveiled today by Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers but won't go into circulation until the
middle of next year. An exact date hasn't been set. This will give vendors time to retool their machines to accept the new bills. "The public is our first line of defense against
counterfeiting," Summers said. "If everyone checks the money that passes through their hands, it will put counterfeiters out of
business. And, that is the goal of redesigning our currency."
Old $5 and 10 bills will continue to be recirculated until they wear out, which on average takes two years. The new currency is designed to make it harder for people to
make bogus bills. Over the years, ounterfeiters have graduated from offset printing to sophisticated color copiers, computer scanners, color ink jet printers and publishing-grade software -- technologies readily available.
The bigger portraits are easier to recognize and their added detail harder to duplicate, officials said. Moving them off center, makes room for a watermark and reduces wear on the portraits, they said.
Other features on the new bills include:
-- Watermarks based on the same artwork as the portraits are visible from both sides when held up to a light.
-- An embedded polymer security thread. On the new $5 bill, a thread to the left of Lincoln's portrait glows blue when exposed to an ultraviolet light. The words
number 5 where the stars would normally be are printed on the thread and can be seen from both sides of the notes when held up to
a bright light. On the new $10 bill, a thread to the right of Hamilton's portrait glows white when exposed to ultraviolet light. The words
"USA Ten" and a flag with the number 10 where the stars would be are printed on the thread and can be seen from both sides when held up to a bright light.
-- A numeral on the lower right corner of the front printed in color-shifting ink that looks green when viewed straight on and black when view from an angle is part of the new $10 bill. This feature isn't on the new $5. It's currently included on new $20, $50 and $100 bills.
-- The words "Five Dollars" in microprinting visible with a magnifying glass are continually repeated on both side borders. The words "United States of America" are microprinted on the lower right and left edge ornamentation of the portrait's oval frame.
On the new $10 bill, the microprinted word "Ten" is continually repeated in the numeral in the lower left-hand corner
and the microprinted words "United States of America" are repeated just above Hamilton's name. Microprinting appears as a thin line to the naked eye and blurred when copied.
-- Very fine lines behind both Lincoln's portrait and the Lincoln Memorial on the new $5 and behind Hamilton's portrait and the U.S.
Treasury Building on the $10. When duplicated, the lines come out in a wavy pattern.
The new bills will continue to be printed on cotton-linen paper as the old money so they won't feel differently and the colors of
the ink will stay the same. The $100 got a high-tech makeover in 1996, the $50 in 1997 and
the $20, the second-most common U.S. bill in circulation, the following year. No decision has been made on whether to redesign
the $1, the most common bill, and the $2 bill.
In fiscal year 1999, $180 million in counterfeit money was reported -- a tiny amount compared with the $480 billion of genuine
U.S. currency in circulation worldwide. Fives and tens comprise 13 percent of that currency.