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New bills arriving in Utah on Oct. 9

Color changes on $20s are first on U.S. cash since 1860s

SHARE New bills arriving in Utah on Oct. 9

Just days away: Andrew Jackson presiding over an engraving of subtle blue, green, peach and yellow tones.

The colorful new look of America's $20 bill was detailed for the Deseret Morning News on Sunday by Marla Borowski, vice president of the Federal Reserve System, Cash Product Office. She is based in Los Angeles but was in Salt Lake City to meet with representatives of the American Public Transportation Association earlier in the day. Approximately 1,700 attendees gathered for a conference in the Grand America Hotel, 555 S. Main.

For the first time since the 1860s, she said, paper money will be in colors other than the traditional green and black. But it will retain the "same size, same paper, same distinctive American look and feel," she added.

The new version of the venerable greenback will be delivered to banks, Savings and Loans, and credit unions starting Oct. 9, she added.

Members of the public may not see the currency on Oct. 9, as it will take a while to work into general circulation. "It'll probably be a couple of days, a couple of weeks," she said.

Older $20 bills will continue to "co-circulate" with the new ones, she said. But the old bills no longer are being produced by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and as they wear out they will be destroyed and replaced with new money.

Within 18 months, the supply of $20s will be half new, half old. From then on, the earlier version will dwindle until gone.

President Andrew Jackson's visage, already prominent on the $20 bill, also will be duplicated in a second, smaller version to one side, which is not as apparent. It's a watermark made in the paper itself, visible when the bill is held up to the light.

What's more remarkable is its subtle color of the new currency.

"We have green on both sides of the portrait and peach here in the middle," she said, showing an example of the bill, which had these background tints, "and that's visible on both sides."

These measures make the bill harder to counterfeit. Other changes include:

On the front, two new examples of the "symbols of freedom." These are eagle emblems: to the left of the portrait, a large blue one of 19th century design, and to the right a small metallic-green eagle atop a shield.

"On the back, we have 20s raining down." These are scores of small yellow numerals, each saying simply "20," that are scattered on otherwise blank places on either side of the vignette of the White House.

A large 20 on the back lower right corner of the bill will make it easier to read.

"Microprinting" of tiny words and numerals that are so small that they are difficult to see, let alone copy.

A "security thread," a printed plastic strip that runs vertically along the left side of the bill. "And again, that's very difficult for a counterfeiter to replicate," Borowski said. It carries the words "USA TWENTY" and a small emblem of the flag. Under an ultraviolet light, the thread glows green.

"Color-shifting ink" on a large 20 looks coppery when seen face-on, green when viewed from an angle.

The $50 and $100 bills will be revised again soon, probably in 2005 and 2006, she said. "We don't know if we'll do the 5 and 10 (dollar notes), and we won't do the 1 or 2 because they're not counterfeited often," she said.

Borowski noted that Americans can expect to see new money designs every seven to ten years.

E-MAIL: bau@desnews.com