On March 13th, the Federal Reserve Board released the first of millions of new $5 dollar bills designed to make counterfeiting far more difficult. The Federal Reserve Board estimates that in 2007, the United States saw some $61.4 million dollars in counterfeit money spent. Therefore, redesigning the $5 bill, as the United States has done with $10, $20, and $50 bills, will only further stem the tide of counterfeit money.
About the New $5 Bill
Along with the appearance of a purple-colored eagle and shield, the new $5 bill includes a number of tiny, yellow-colored “05”s on the front and back of the bill, and enhanced images of President Lincoln and the Lincoln Memorial. However, because counterfeiters can still replicate the colored components of the new $5 bill design, the Federal Reserve Board suggests one verifies the authenticity of their revamped $5 bills by looking for watermarks and the security thread.
Watermarks are the ghost-like images that appear on a bill when held up to light, and the security thread is a thin strip that can be seen on currency, also visible when held up to light. The new $5 bill watermarks includes “5”s, and the security thread—which reads “USA 5”—can be found running vertically to the right of Lincoln’s portrait.
As a long-time numismatist, I can tell you that collectors always get excited when a new coin or bill is released. The new $5 bill only further symbolizes the end of the traditional “greenback” currency has been declining for years now as the United States has been adding color and other features to our nation’s currency to deter counterfeiting. Currency collectors assembling a type collection consisting of one example of each major design of currency would find the addition of an example of the new $5 bill an exciting chapter in our nation’s currency history.
Historically, coin and currency collectors have held onto first-year issues of our nation’s money. Collectors also are fond of last-year issues, and would find the inclusion of the last greenback $5 bill as well as an example of the new $5 bill two important acquisitions.
While many people have found great wealth in collecting and investing in coins and currency, it is important to state that neither the old $5 bill nor the new version will bring owners any great fortune, at least for the foreseeable future. Few modern issues of circulating coins or bills are worth much more than face value, and this is primarily because too many examples of these modern issues exist to make them rare or scarce collector items. Furthermore, it is plausible that many of the older $5 bills will continue to circulate for months and possibly even years to come (though collectors and banks will be removing these older bills from circulation).
Whether you keep the new $5 bills for sentiment or future profit, be sure that you acquire brand new currency straight from the bank, do not fold or crease the bills, and keep them in a cool, dry location away from light or dust. After all, collectors and investors prefer crisp, uncirculated bills, which is especially the case with modern releases. For the most part, only older, scarce, and rare bills are considered “collectible” in circulated or worn condition.