Like the new $20, the $50 will have new colors, new printing and a new design - all to thwart counterfeiters.
WASHINGTON - Touches of red, blue and yellow are being added to the new $50 bill, the second of the greenbacks to be colorized as part of an effort to thwart counterfeiters.
The subtle colors, which appear in parts of what was once the cream-colored background on the note, are the most noticeable change on the new $50, which was unveiled Monday by the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, makers of the nation's paper currency.
The new bills are still the same size and use the traditional black ink on the front and green ink on the back. They also still feature Ulysses S. Grant on the front and the U.S. Capitol on the back. But the borders around Grant, the Civil War general and 18th U.S. president, and the Capitol have been removed.
"Even with a new design, the world will still recognize the new notes as distinctly American," said Treasury Secretary John Snow. "The new design is more secure than ever before. We believe it will be extremely effective in discouraging counterfeiters."
The $20 bill, the most counterfeited note in the United States, was the first to get the color treatment, featuring splashes of peach, blue and yellow. The new $20 went into circulation last fall.
The new $50 features subtle background colors of red and blue on both sides. The stars and stripes of the U.S. flag are printed in blue and red behind the portrait of Grant on the front. A field of blue stars is located to the left of the portrait, while three red stripes are located to its right. A small metallic silver-blue star is located on the lower right side of Grant.
The redesigned $50 also includes tiny yellow number 50s scattered in the background on the back of the note. That's similar to the new $20, which has little yellow 20s on the back.
Security features include an embedded thread that glows yellow when exposed to an ultraviolet light; color-shifting ink that changes from copper to green when the note is tilted; watermarks visible when held up to light; and hard-to-replicate microprinting. In one spot, the tiny words "United States of America" appear on Grant's collar under his beard.
The bureau expects to print 76.8-million new $50s this year. New bills, however, aren't likely to go into circulation and start showing up in cash registers until fall. Old $50s will continue to be accepted and recirculated until they wear out; they average five years in use.
The bureau also plans to add color to the $100 bill, the most knocked-off note outside the United States. It has not been determined when the new $100 will be unveiled. Officials are still considering whether to redesign $5s and $10s, but $1s and $2s will stay the same because they aren't of much interest to counterfeiters.
Counterfeit notes represent just a tiny fraction of the $700-billion in genuine U.S. currency that circulates worldwide, said Bruce Townsend, deputy assistant director at the Secret Service.
Still, it's important for authorities to stay ahead of counterfeiters and for people, especially those who handle cash, to know what to look for to determine when a bill is genuine and when it's bogus.
"Like the locks on the doors of your home, the currency's features are only good when people use them," he said.NEW FEATURES
Some features of the new $50 bill were introduced when the redesigned $20 bill was introduced in October. They include:
WATERMARK: A faint image similar to the large portrait of Ulysses S. Grant is visible when the bill is held up to the light.
COLOR-SHIFTING INK: Tilting the bill changes the "50" in the lower right corner from copper to green.
SECURITY THREAD: A plastic strip embedded in the paper printed with the words "USA 50." The thread glows yellow under ultraviolet light.
"SYMBOLS OF FREEDOM': Stars and stripes representing the American flag are printed in color behind Grant's portrait. Different symbols will be used in each bill.