IN RECENT YEARS, the Treasury Department has battled counterfeiters
with elaborate designs for the hundred, fifty and twenty-dollar
bills. Yesterday, at a lavish luncheon (rack of lamb flame-broiled
over fresh currency), Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence H. Summers
unveiled the new five spot. The bill is loaded with high-tech
devices, including multicolor inks, an invisible security thread,
and a voice chip featuring the Gettysburg Address read by Larry
All this technical wizardry doesn't come cheap. Each five-dollar
bill costs $12.75 to produce. "Well, it takes money to make
money," quipped Secretary Summers, mopping his brow with
a sweaty fifty. For all that, the bill still has problems, not
the least of which are the typos "Govamint" and "Warshington."
The new currency is also much too large to fit in a billfold,
which is just as well since the bills don't fold: Each is as thick
and stiff as a frozen veal chop.
Worst of all, the new five tips the scales at three pounds, eleven
ounces. Asked to comment, Secretary Summers quipped, "Hey,
in England they have a five-pound note!" When this failed
to get a laugh, he added, "Look, it's 'N Sync!" and
then fled through the fire exit.
prevent copying, Lincoln now sports a purple tie, baby blue
eyes, and a festive rainbow wig of the type worn at sporting
events. The portrait is covered by a thin plastic bubble
with iron filings forming the beard. You can give Abe a
"fresh" look with a magnetic stylus (available
for $17.95 from govtoys.com). Click on number 1 for examples.
wart is a ball bearing that children of all ages will enjoy
rolling into place. Click number 2 to try it!
bill has a watermark, which can be seen by holding it up
to the light. Revenue will be generated by leasing the space
to corporate sponsors. Click number 3 for an example.
discourage counterfeiters, a number of details have been
added to this picture through microengraving. Click number
4 to see a few of them.
voice chip contains Larry King's Gettysburg Address. Click
number 5 for an excerpt.