Over the last ten years, US coinage has seen many changes. Starting in 1999, the 50 State Quarters® Program and the DC and US Territories Coin Program has taught us about our country and entertained us with “interesting” designs. The Westward Journey Nickels, Presidential Dollars, and this year’s Lincoln Bicentennial One Cent Redesign have kept us examining our pocket change looking for something new.
US paper currency has also changed. But the changes are not what could be considered earth shattering. Rather than undergo a good design change, I had previously commented that the “[new] currency designs look like the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is dabbling in currency design after being mired using the same basic designs for over sixty years.” With little to no restriction on currency design, the BEP designs have gone from old to bland with no redesign planned for the one dollar bill that was designed in the 1920s!
Richard Smith, founder of the Dollar ReDe$ign Project thinks that as part of improving the US image, redesign its currency. Noting that a redesign may be looking backwards, Smith noted in an interview that “you need to go backwards to go forward.” (see video below) Without explaining this statement, Smith had to have been referring to the currency of the late 18th and early 19th century that produced phenomenal design.
Smith is approaching this issue from an image perspective. As a numismatist and a collector of Israeli paper currency, I am looking at the issue from a design perspective for making interesting collectibles.
Other countries seem to be able to handle change to their currency. In fact, the emergence of the Euro forced changes throughout Europe. Euro banknotes are printed in a variety of colors and representative designs that are accepted through out the European Union.
Also, the European Union and most other industrial countries does not issue their unit currency in paper. The United States continues to print the one-dollar note which I have written costs the government more to maintain.
Maybe if the numismatic angle is not working with the BEP, maybe the we could try the angle from the image consultant. Anything that could update the US staid currency design.