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The New $20 Bill

November 28, 1998

I enjoyed Christopher Knight's critique of the new U.S. currency ("$20 Note Fills the Bill for These Fast Times," Nov. 23). I never knew how much symbolism could be found in a simple $20 bill.

However, Knight seemed to imply that the security measures in the new currency are also new. While some of them are, two of the measures he mentioned--the hidden security strip and microprinting--have been present in all U.S. currency larger than $1 since 1990. More information is available at the Treasury's Web site at http://www.moneyfactory.com/currency/facts2.cfm.

EVAN H. ZUCKER, San Diego

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I am a bartender and I deal with food servers and bill-toting customers on a daily basis. The most common denomination, the $20 bill, is a visual abomination. The fronts of the $20, $50 and $100 bills are almost identical. The numbers do not stand out. When one is dealing with paper money quickly on an exchange basis, one does not have time to scrutinize the bill. A quick glance is all that time allows. The new bills require a double take and a turning over. In most restaurants and bars the lighting is dim, to say the least, which makes it even more difficult to read.

Try placing the new bill in one hand and the old bill in the other and holding them out at arm's length. See which one is more legible! The new number 20 blends in with the design of the rest of the bill, whereas the old 20 is plain and open and stands right out. Many servers have short-changed themselves with this new bill.

JIM KRESTALUDE, Los Angeles

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