WASHINGTON — The government today announced design changes in U.S. currency aimed at thwarting counterfeiters, the first substantial modifications in the nation's currency in more than half a century.
The changes are coming just in time, government officials contend. They say a new generation of copying machines, capable of producing high-quality color reproductions, already is beginning to show up in offices.
The Treasury Department considered and rejected such radical changes as using a different color for U.S. money other than green. The changes announced today were considered so minor that they are not likely to be noticed unless the currency is studied carefully.
Treasury Secretary James A. Baker said the first new notes will enter circulation in 15 to 18 months.
The main change announced was the addition of a clear polyester thread woven into the paper. The thread, which will run vertically on the left border of U.S. currency, will be visible to the eye when held up to the light but cannot be reproduced by copiers, the department said.
The other change will involve printing of the words "United States of America" repeatedly around the portrait in such small type that copiers will not be able to reproduce the tiny letters.