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Get a New $5 yet?
March 18, 2008

Have you gotten a new $5 Federal Reserve Note in your change yet? The new bill was introduced last week on March 13.

It has not made it to Iola yet. Debbie Bradley inquired about it after the official introduction when she did some routine banking.

Lack of the new $5s in Iola is no real surprise. We are at the tail end of the distribution system and I sometimes think that old $1 bills come here to die because they can be so ratty.

Nobody wins any prizes for being the first to get one in change, but there is a certain psychological satisfaction in being the first to report one to fellow collectors and passing a personal judgment on how it looks and whether the anti-counterfeiting devices are easy to use.

Americans are not easily educated about money. That is peculiar considering how important money is to everyday life.

The iodine pens increasingly shorten the useful life of many bills. There is far less thinking involved with a pen than checking a security strip or a watermark.

The need for fairly crisp examples in ATM machines adds further strain.

Then there is the simple fact of the new designs themselves. It used to be said that $100 bills had a life of 18 years. Well, that isn't true anymore. The new design arrived in 1996 and the old designs disappeared very rapidly, led by an almost complete rejection of the old designs in places like Russia as soon as the new ones appeared. When the next new one comes out, I expect a similar departure schedule for the current notes.

How long will the current $5 last in the face of the arrival of the new? Not long, I imagine. Next year I will probably ask whether anyone is seeing any old notes in their change.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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