WASHINGTON – Americans' wallets will have more red, yellow and orange as the first of 800 million redesigned $10 bills start showing up in cash registers and ATM machines on March 2.
Government officials said Thursday that they had selected the March date to start distributing the more colorful $10 bills, which will have shades of the new colors added to the traditional green.
The makeover of the $10 follows colorization of the $20 bill in 2003 and the $50 bill last year.
The new $10 will still feature Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury secretary, on one side, and the Treasury building on the other side.
But those two images will be joined by the Statue of Liberty's torch and the phrase "We the People" in red along with small yellow 10s and a subtle orange background. All the changes are designed to thwart counterfeiters.
The Federal Reserve, which has the responsibility of supplying coins and currency to the nation's banking system, will begin on March 2 filling orders placed by commercial banks for the new $10s.
The new design for the currency was unveiled during a ceremony in New York City in September. Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Tom Ferguson said the lead time gives operators of vending machines and other devices that accept currency time to make the changes needed to recognize the new bills.
It also allows time for a public information campaign so that consumers, clerks and other people who handle the bills will not be taken by surprise by the changes.
"A good currency program depends on a highly secure currency design, very good law enforcement and also an educated public," Ferguson said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Some people could see the new $10 bills right in early March but the introduction in any given area of the country will depend on the demand by commercial banks for new $10s to replace worn-out bills.
The average life-span for a $10 bill is three years while $1 bills last only about 22 months. As with all currency changes, the old bills maintain their full value as long as they are in circulation.
Plans call for the $100 bill to be redesigned in 2007, a change that was delayed to allow for more security features to be added to what is the favorite denomination of counterfeiters outside the United States. There are no plans to change the $1, $2 or $5 bills.