What does a 10-dollar bill look like? If you’ve ever wondered what a $10 bill looks like up close or were curious about the details, symbols, and design, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about the appearance and features of the $10 banknote.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The current $10 bill features Alexander Hamilton on the front and the U.S. Treasury Building on the back. It has a predominantly grey-blue color scheme with shades of orange and red.

Security features include a metallic ribbon, color-shifting numeral 10, raised printing, and microprinting.

Portrait and Imagery on the $10 Bill

Alexander Hamilton Portrait

The front of the $10 bill features a portrait of Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was the first Secretary of the Treasury and his portrait has been featured on the $10 bill since 1928.

Hamilton’s stern and determined gaze makes him a recognizable figure in American currency.

The portrait is based on a 1805 painting by John Trumbull which depicts Hamilton in a three-quarter profile view. He has short hair and is wearing a black suit and white neckcloth. The painting captures the intelligence and intensity that Hamilton displayed throughout his career as a revolutionary, Founding Father, author of the Federalist Papers, and treasury secretary.

Some key details about Hamilton’s portrait on the $10 bill:

  • His portrait faces left, following the tradition of depicting figures of state facing left and figures representing liberty facing right.
  • The background color behind Hamilton’s portrait is reddish-orange, symbolizing treasury funds.
  • His eyes appear to stare straight ahead, giving off a determined look that matches his strong personality.

Alexander Hamilton’s portrait has graced the $10 bill for almost a century, representing his pivotal contributions to American government and finance.

The U.S. Treasury Building

On the back of the $10 bill is an engraving of the south fa├žade of the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington D.C. The Treasury Building houses the offices of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the government agency responsible for managing federal revenue.

Some key details about the Treasury Building image:

  • The imposing Corinthian columns and statues signify the authority and stability of the U.S. currency system.
  • There are 15 columns across the front of the building, possibly symbolic of the number of cabinet departments at the time construction began.
  • The words “The Department of the Treasury” are inscribed prominently above the columns.
  • The lamp posts lit in front reinforce that the Treasury Building operates around the clock to support the U.S. economy.

This stately neoclassical building is a fitting background illustration for the $10 bill. It connects to Alexander Hamilton’s role in establishing America’s financial framework and highlights the security and trust associated with U.S. currency.

Color Scheme and Design Elements

Predominant Colors

The predominant color on the $10 bill is green. Specifically, it uses a color called Federal Reserve green that was specially mixed to use on U.S. currency. This distinct green color helps make the money harder to counterfeit and gives it a unique, recognizable look.

Accent Colors

In addition to the green color, the $10 bill also incorporates black and white accents. The ink used for the text and graphics is black, which stands out clearly against the base green color. There are also minor details printed in white.

Symbols and Graphics

The front of the $10 bill features a portrait of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers who was the first Secretary of the Treasury. The oval frame around his portrait contains an intricate floral design and geometric patterns.

On the back of the bill is an image of the U.S. Treasury Building.

Other design elements on the bill include federal reserve seals and serial numbers. The latest $10 bill released in 2022 also has sophisticated new graphics to thwart counterfeiting, like a 3D security ribbon and color-shifting bell inside the inkwell on the front of the bill.

Security Features of the $10 Bill

The $10 bill has several security features designed to prevent counterfeiting. These features make it much harder for criminals to produce fake $10 bills that could enter circulation.

Metallic Ribbon

There is a metallic ribbon woven into the $10 bill that you can see when you tilt the bill. This ribbon is solid blue on the front of the note and solid copper on the back. The ribbons are very difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce.

Color-Shifting Ink

The number “10” in the lower right corner on the front of the bill is printed with color-shifting ink. When you tilt the bill, the number will shift between copper and green. This is another feature that requires specialized technology to reproduce.

Raised Printing

Parts of the $10 bill, including the portrait numbers, Treasury Seal, saw-tooth points of the Federal Reserve, and Treasury seals, are printed with slightly raised ink. You can feel the raised printing by rubbing your finger over these areas.

This tactile element presents an extra hurdle for potential counterfeiters.


The borders around the portraits on the front and back of the $10 bill contain microprinted words. The tiny text is sharp under magnification but appears as a solid line to the naked eye. Few counterfeiters have the technology to reproduce such minute characters.


Finally, a watermark of Alexander Hamilton’s portrait appears to the right of the portrait when you hold the bill up to the light. Watermarks are created during production by varying the thickness of the paper in certain areas and cannot be simulated after the fact by counterfeiters lacking specialized paper mills.

With all of these security defenses working together, genuine $10 Federal Reserve notes are highly secure documents that are very difficult to replicate with the technology available to most counterfeiters.

By staying vigilant and checking bills for the presence of these features, the average person can readily spot almost any counterfeit $10 bill put into circulation.

When the New $10 Bill Design Was Introduced

The current design of the $10 bill debuted in 2006 as part of an effort to combat counterfeiting. This redesign introduced a number of security features not present in previous versions of the bill.

Motivation for the Redesign

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, advancements in technology made counterfeiting easier and more widespread. To stay ahead of criminals, the U.S. government decided to redesign the most commonly counterfeited bills – starting with the $20 bill in 2003 and following up with the $50, $10, $5, and $100 bills over the next several years.

The goal was to incorporate new anti-counterfeiting measures that would be difficult for potential counterfeiters to replicate. This included features like color-shifting ink, watermarks, security threads, raised printing, and more.

Key Dates

  • March 2nd, 2006: The redesigned $10 bill is unveiled to the public.
  • March 8th, 2006: The new $10 design officially enters circulation.
  • Early 2013: The previous $10 design is largely out of circulation, replaced entirely by the current design.

It took over 6 years for the new $10 bills to fully replace old stock. This gradual rollout allowed the public time to become familiar with the updated look and security features.

Updates Introduced in the 2006 Redesign

The reimagined $10 bill introduced both subtle and overt changes compared to earlier versions:

  • Color-Shifting Ink – The number “10” in the lower right corner changes from copper to green when tilted.
  • Watermark – There is a faint image visible when held up to the light.
  • Security Thread – A dark vertical strip embedded in the bill that says “USA TEN” in tiny print.
  • Microprinting – Tiny text too small to reproduce appears around Hamilton’s portrait and coat button.
  • Raised Printing – Some text and images feel slightly elevated to the touch.

Together, these updates have successfully limited counterfeits. Only around 1% of $10 bills in circulation today are believed to be fake – down from 4% before the redesign.

Future Changes Coming to the $10 Bill

New Portrait

The current portrait on the $10 bill is of Alexander Hamilton, but there have been discussions by the U.S. Department of Treasury to replace Hamilton’s portrait with a prominent female figure from American history.

Some leading candidates mentioned have been abolitionist Harriet Tubman, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, and First Lady and human rights advocate Eleanor Roosevelt.

In 2016, the Treasury Department announced plans to replace Hamilton with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill by 2020 to honor the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women’s suffrage. However, this change did not end up happening under the Trump administration.

With the new Biden administration, there is renewed interest in placing a woman on the $10 or $20 bill this decade.

According to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey, over 60% of Americans favor replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman. Support is also building for placing a woman on the more widely-used $10 bill instead, perhaps by the year 2028.

Leading choices in recent polls and petitions are Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks.

Advanced Anti-Counterfeiting Features

The Treasury Department and Secret Service have been working on advanced security features to prevent counterfeiting of U.S. currency. Some features already in place on the latest $10 bills include:

  • Color-shifting ink – the number “10” shifts from copper to green when tilting the bill
  • Raised printing – you can feel the portraits, writing, and symbols on the bill
  • Watermarks – hold up to the light to see faint images matching the portraits
  • Security threads – embedded red and blue threads that say “USA TEN” when held up to light

However, counterfeiters keep improving their equipment and techniques. So the Treasury and Secret Service continue innovating new anti-counterfeit features, some of which may appear on a newly designed $10 bill this decade. Possibilities include:

3D security ribbon – plastic strip with images that shift as you tilt the bill
QR codes – scan with a smartphone to validate authenticity
Embedded holograms – tube-like line images floating above the bill surface
Chip and satellite tracking – embed RFID chips to locate counterfeits globally

While dollar bills will likely always be targets for counterfeiting, the Treasury and Secret Service are committed to staying ahead of the game to maintain confidence in the integrity of U.S. banknotes.

The $10 bill will surely see both a design upgrade with a prominent woman and cutting-edge security upgrades in the coming years.

What Does A 10-Dollar Bill Look Like – Conclusion

As you can see, even the humble $10 bill has an intricate design with many built-in security features. By understanding what a real $10 banknote looks like, you can more easily spot fakes.

We’ve covered the key elements that give the $10 bill its distinct and recognizable appearance, from the historical figure and building depicted to the colors and symbols used in the design. We’ve also reviewed when changes happened in the past and what potential changes may come in the future.

So next time you get a $10 bill in change, take a closer look! There are many small details that make up the complete picture of this essential piece of U.S. currency.

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