The $5 bill was first issued into common currency in the United States in 1861. Pictured on it was Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton’s image has since been replaced with others, most notably Abraham Lincoln's, who has been the face of the $5 bill since 1914. Security measures have been considerably improved in the 21st century on this historic bill.
1914 $5 Bill
The first $5 bill that featured Lincoln--the president’s portrait that still currently appears on all $5 bills--was released in 1914. The bill also features Christopher Columbus, as well as the Pilgrims. The Treasury seal was originally red; however, on all bills since, it has been blue.
Reverse Side of Bill
The reverse side of the $5 bill shows the Lincoln Memorial. Although 48 states are engraved on the memorial--which was constructed in 1922--only 26 states appear on the note. The 26 states on the bill are the ones featured on the front of the memorial, the only side of the building depicted on the note.
The statement “In God We Trust” was added to the $5 bill in 1964. The phrase that was previously featured on $5 bills, “Will Pay To The Bearer On Demand,” was also removed and replaced with “This Note Is Legal Tender For All Debts Public and Private.”
New $5 Bill Watermark
Released on March 13, 2008, the newest $5 bills focus on creating enhanced security measures to prevent counterfeiting. One of the changes is two new watermarks, or marks that are not obvious but which can be seen on the bill when it is placed in light.
One watermark on the new $5 bill is a large "5" that is to the right of the portrait. This watermark is very large, nearly the size of Lincoln’s head. The other watermark is a column of 5s that are smaller and located to the left of Lincoln’s head.
New $5 Bill Security Thread
Formerly on the left side of the old $5 bills, the security thread--featuring “USA 5”--now appears on the right side of the bill. When held under UV lighting, the thread glows blue.
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