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Humans, Machines Need to Gear Up for $50 Makeover

July 1, 2004 – The nation's second piece of colorful currency, the redesigned $50 bill, will go into circulation on Sept. 28, the federal government announced on Wednesday.
The U.S. Treasury Department unveiled the design of the new Series 2004 $50 bill in April, saying then that it would go into circulation in September or October. (See :Redesigned $50 Bill to Be Circulated in the Fall".)
Announcement now of the actual start-of-distribution date is intended to serve as a signal to businesses, banks and manufacturers of cash-handling equipment that they're running out of time to gear up for the coming change.
"For some businesses, preparations include training cash-handling employees in how to use the notes' special features," a Treasury Department release issued on Wednesday states. "For others, it entails making technical adjustments to ATMs or machines with cash receptors such as vending and automated checkout machines."
The Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing is going all-out to educate the public about the security features of the new currency and how to take advantage of them.
Educational materials including posters, videos and brochures are available "for training, education and consumer information purposes in reasonable quantities at no charge," according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing's Money Factory Web site. Some of the materials can be downloaded from the site.
Since the bureau began taking orders in May 2003 for the materials, more than 46 million pieces have been requested by businesses and other organizations for use in training their cash-handling personnel about the notes' enhanced security features, the release stated..
The makeover of the old Gen. Ulysses S. Grant "greenback" incorporates subtle background colors of red and blue, images of a waving American flag and a small, metallic silver-blue star on the portrait side, along with a second, smaller image of Grant imbedded as a watermark visible from either side when the bill is held up to the light. The numeral 50 in the lower right corner changes color as the note is tilted.
On the flip side, there are small yellow 50s in the background. A plastic "security thread" also embedded in the paper spells out the denomination in tiny print.
All of which, say federal authorities, makes the new $50 note — like the new $20 bill put into circulation last October — "safer, smarter and more secure."
In other words, a heck of a lot harder for counterfeiters to replicate, even with the most sophisticated technology.
Mark W. Olson, Federal Reserve Board governor, said as the new notes are introduced into commerce, the older design will still be legal tender. "All notes are good for good," he said.
Tom Ferguson, Bureau of Engraving and Printing director, said that "we have been working with the appropriate machine manufacturers for nearly two years to ensure they have the information they need to make their equipment compatible with each newly redesigned note that is introduced into circulation."
In addition to the already-out $20 bill and the soon-to-come $50, a redesigned $100 note is in the works. Federal authorities are still pondering whether to re-do the $10 and $5 bills; they've decided it's not worth the effort for the one-buck and two-buck bills.

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