An adage of numismatics is “Buy the book before the coin.” It was first used by numismatist and dealer Aaron Feldman in an advertisement that appeared in the March 1966 issue of The Numismatist. Aside from being used to sell books, this sound advice tells collectors to enhance their knowledge of the hobby.
Education is important because helps build the skills and tools they need to navigate the world. Education helps us read, write, calculate and communicate. Without education, we would not be able to perform our jobs competently, accurately and safely. Education also gives us a view of the world which we live and provides a context to how we arrived at society today.
Numismatic education is important because it teaches us how to understand the and navigate the world of money and the economics that made it necessary. Without numismatic education coins, currency, bonds, tokens, and medals are just objects to be ogled without context. We would not know why these items are important or how to collect them. Numismatic education not only teaches us about how to identify these items and collect them but provides the background into history that explains how these items represent today’s society.
The areas I find interesting are the history and policies that have led to how things are today. History gives us the lessons learned as to how it was once done and the evolution of the policies that govern the way any institution is run. This is no different for the money manufacturing apparatus of the United States.
I have been on a book buying binge. If I find a book that will add to my curiosity, then it will become part of my growing library. Over the last few months, I have probably spent more on books than coins. With the exception of the few review copies (that I really should review), most of the books I buy are older and have information that I have not found anywhere else.
There are books from my new stack of older books I would like to highlight.
History of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Compared to the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing does not get the same love by collectors. Created as the National Currency Bureau in 1862, it became the official security printing agency of the United States government. History of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing covers the first 100 years of the agency’s history. Printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and sold for $7.00 in 1962, this book outlines the growth of the agency from cutting fractional currency printed by commercial printers to pioneering currency production including new press operations and how to create plates.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 100 Years
It is a beautifully produced book that stands out for its quality in both production and writing. The history of the BEP is well written with images of the process with images of some of the printing element interspersed throughout the text. Also included are intaglio printed images from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing archives. Between the pages with the intaglio prints is a tissue-like paper to help protect and preserve the images.
Although there are many good online histories of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing none of them are complete and does not include the other security printing history of the agency including bonds and stamps.
Three on Counterfeiting Currency
The most read post on the Coin Collectors Blog is “How easy is it to pass counterfeit currency.” I am fascinated that since I published that post there it has logged over 5,000 unique hits. I am sure that the post is being picked up by search engines and shown to people who are looking for illicit information. They are probably disappointed that the post is not an instruction manual, but I am fascinated that so many people would be interested.
It made me curious about the history of counterfeiting in the United States. Since I am on a book buying binge, it was time to find some interesting titles:
- Illegal Tender, Counterfeiting and the Secret Service in Nineteenth-Century America by David R. Johnson. To save money, this is a former library book in very good condition. I have skimmed this book and it looks like it will provide a good background as to the evolution of the U.S. Secret Service. The U.S. Secret Service is a unique agency. It was formed to investigate and deter counterfeiting of U.S. currency starting in 1865. They were so well respected that they were asked to protect President Theodore Roosevelt following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. Although many countries have divisions of their law enforcement services that investigate counterfeiting, the United States is the only country that has an agency whose mission to protect the currency from counterfeiting.
Counterfeit, Mis-Struck and Unofficial, U.S. Coins by Don Taxay. While my copy has condition issues, including water damage, it is still a book written by Taxay that has to be worth reading. Since this is my most recent purchase it has been added to the “up next” queue.
Banknote Reporters and Counterfeit Detectors from 1949
- Bank Note Reporters and Counterfeit Detectors, 1826-1866, by William H. Dillistin. Published by the American Numismatic Society in 1949, this book is a survey of experts in counterfeit detection that describes what to look for. It is also a catalog of publications in counterfeit detection and the authors. An interesting exercise may be to work on trying to find the papers and pamphlets listed in this book. I also liked the images in the back of the book that shows what to look for to detect counterfeits.
Illustrated History of Coins and Tokens Relating to Canada
When I reviewed 2017 Canadian Circulating Coins, Tokens & Paper Money I noted that the third section of the book is dedicated to Breton Tokens. Breton Tokens refer to the coins and tokens that were documented by Pierre Napoleon Breton in 1894. Although I am not a collector of Breton Tokens it would be great to have a copy of the book. Think of it as owning a copy of “Penny Whimsy” by Dr. William Sheldon or the first edition of United States Pattern Coins by J. Hewitt Judd.
Illustrated History of Coins and Tokens Relating to Canada by P.N. Breton
I have to admit to “picking” this book during a sale of books from my local coin club. The club is selling off items in its library that there seems to be little interest. Periodically, a few books are brought to a meeting and sold by silent auction. When Illustrated History of Coins and Tokens Relating to Canada, I did not pay attention. I was drawn that it was an older book about Canadian coins and that it is written in both French and English. What made this book stand out is that each page had two columns with the French text on the left and the English on the right. The format was fascinating I bid and won the book. Only after I started to go through my pile this past week to prioritize my reading list did I realize what I had purchased.
Although this is not a priority read, to have a contemporary reference about Breton Tokens written by P.N. Breton should make a fascinating read.
So… what’s on your bookshelf?
January 20, 2017, marks the end of the Presidency of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. At noon the 45th president will be inaugurated.
Also, as of noon, Obama’s appointments to Executive Branch positions will resign from their position to be filled by the new president’s appointment. Of the people resigning are Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew and Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint Matthew Rhett Jeppson. Jeppson was nominated to be the 39th Director but the nomination died with the end of the 114th congress.
Attempts to contact the U.S. Mint to ask them about the bureau’s leadership starting Friday has gone unanswered.
The position of Treasurer of the United States would have also resigned but is currently vacant after the July 2016 resignation of Rosie Rios. Treasurer of the United States is a presidential appointment that does not require Senate confirmation.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is not affected by a change in administrations because the position of the director is a career appointment. Len Olijar will remain Director of the BEP as long as he is a government employee in good standing.
Members of the Federal Reserve Board are appointed but they are not considered part of the Executive Branch. The Fed is independent and the Fed Chair, the Federal Reserve Board, and the president of the regional Federal Reserve Banks are appointed to four-year terms irrespective of political timelines. Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve, has announced she will serve her full her full four-year term that will expire on February 3, 2018.
The Plum Book, which documents more than 9,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the executive and legislative branches, lists quite a number of positions that supports numismatic production. Of course, significant changes will be reported here!
Most of the votes have been counted. Electors to the Electoral College have been selected. The post-election analysis is in high gear. Why not add the numismatic twist to the environment.
Rhett Jeppson, nominated to be the 39th Director of the U.S. Mint
The immediate impact of the election results is that Rhett Jeppson will not be confirmed to become the Director of the U.S. Mint. Even though the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing for his nomination on March 15, the chance of the GOP-led Senate confirming any of President Obama’s appointment nominations are non-existent.
Jeppson was hired in January 2015 as Principal Deputy Director. Jeppson was hired as a member of the government’s Senior Executive Service (SES) program. In July, it was announced that Jeppson would be nominated as the Director. Since the nomination will likely die in committee, Jeppson will remain on the U.S. Mint staff as a government employee. Although he has not announced his intentions, Jeppson is likely to continue as Principal Deputy Director.
It is unlikely that the next administration will nominate Jeppson or anyone in the near future. Considering that there has not been political appointee running the U.S. Mint since January 2011, maybe President Obama could use his power to convert the term appointment into a permanent government employee. This way, the U.S. Mint can be run by competent managers rather than a pol who might do something like not ordering enough planchets to maintain a major bullion program.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is not affected by a change in administrations because the position of the director is a permanent government employee. Len Olijar will remain Director of the BEP as long as he is a government employee in good standing.
As for any of the pending legislation, do not count on anything being passed. Given the results of the election, sources say that the partisan rancor is so fervent that even the most cordial relationships have turned icy. These feelings are not limited to cross-party relationships. There is a growing divide between ideological members in both parties that could almost split the congress into four parties.
To suggest that the partisan bickering to escalate during the lame duck session would be an understatement. Remember, congress passed a continuing resolution, not a real budget, in late September that will expire on December 9. If a budget is not passed by December 9 then the government will have to be shutdown.
The 114th congress will adjourn being one of the most ineffective congress on record.
For the 115th congress that will convene on January 3, 2017, there will be 239 Republicans and 193 Democrats with three runoffs pending (two in Louisiana). Although the Republicans lost 7 total seats, they continue to hold a majority. Currently, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) is the Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services. Although it is not known if Hensarling will remain as chair of this committee, it is likely the new leadership will continue the previous policies. If the attitudes of this committee do not change, there may be very few commemorative coin programs that get through this committee.
Although revenue generating bills are required to be introduced in the House of Representatives (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 4), the Senate has been known to introduce commemorative coin bills without argument from their House counterparts. For the 115th congress, the Senate will have 51 Republicans and 48 Democrats with a runoff in Louisiana scheduled for December 10. However, Senate rules make the composition somewhat irrelevant because of their ability to filibuster.
Under the Senate’s filibuster rules (Senate Rule XXII), a senator can inform the presiding member that they intend to filibuster the debate. At that point, the presiding member will set the bill aside to allow other business to continue because the Senate can only work on one item at a time. This means that a filibuster stops all other floor actions. By setting the bill aside and not bringing it to the floor, this allows for other senate business to continue while the leadership tries to gather support for a cloture vote.
Cloture, or closure, is the act to end the free-flow debate of the senate and apply restrictions, such as a 30 hour limit on debate. Cloture requires a three-fifths vote of the senate (60 votes) to agree on cloture. Anyone who remembers some of the past discussions on the composition of the senate, when one party controls 60 seats, they called that a “filibuster-proof majority.” Otherwise, any senator can threaten a filibuster and have that measure buried.
Although it is unlikely that the senate would filibuster the vote on a commemorative coin bill, but it would be obstructed by the another bill ahead of it in the queue.
Even though I would like for the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2726 and S. 2957) to pass, I will not be holding my breath during the lame duck session this year or a new version introduced anytime next year.
The Department of the Treasury announced that today, Friday, July 8, 2016, will be Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios last day working for the department. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew said (via Politico):
Former Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios
“Rosie Rios joined the Treasury team nearly eight years ago, during the presidential transition. Since then, she has been a thoughtful steward of two important Treasury bureaus — the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Mint — and has been an advocate for women and girls including, for example, her leadership of the Treasury Women in Finance symposium.
“I am particularly grateful for her creativity and leadership in the effort to redesign our paper currency and to ensure that future notes reflect, for the first time in 120 years, the important role of women in shaping our democracy. I thank her for her service and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
As the 43rd Treasurer, Rios has been an advocate for everything regarding her oversight of the U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing including her participation at shows. Aside from her signature appearing on every Federal Reserve Note since the 2009 Series, she continued to autograph notes for collectors at conventions. She jokingly calls them “Rosie Dollars.”
Series 2009 Federal Reserve Note autographed by Treasurer of the U.S. Rosa Gumataotao Rios
Rios has worked as a business executive prior to working on the Obama campaign in 2008 in Virginia. She was hired to work with the transition team on matters concerning the Treasury Department and then was nominated as Treasurer. Rios has been serving as Treasurer since August 8, 2009.
Her future plans were not announced.
Aside from being a tough act to follow, the position may stay vacant for a while. Given the hyper-partisan nature of congress and that we are heavy into this election cycle, it is highly unlikely that the Senate would consider confirming an Obama appointment. Currently, Rhett Jeppson is waiting for a vote to confirm his appointment to be the 39th Director of the U.S. Mint. Jeppson’s nomination was sent to the Senate for “advise and consent” on July 9, 2016. A hearing about his nomination was held on March 15, 2016. The nomination remains in committee waiting for the Senate to do their job and hold a vote.
Last month, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew announced a series of design changes that will occur on United States currency. These changes will be phased in over 10 years to coincide with the production schedules in place currency redesign.
Obverse of the 2009-present Native American Dollar featuring the portrait of Sacagawea
I will go into the more details of the changes at a later date, but during my travels around the interwebs I came across a television news report from KIFI, the ABC affiliate in Fort Hall, Idaho. Although it is like every other news story it has one feature that no other news outlet was able to add to their story: an interview with Randy’L Teton.
Randy’L Teton is a member of the Shoshone-Cree tribe who was the model for Glenna Goodacre’s design for the Sacagawea dollar coin. Teton was a student at the University of New Mexico majoring in art history and was working for the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe when Goodacre visited looking for Shoshone woman to be her model since no images of Sacagawea exist. Teton was chosen for as the model.
For anyone who has not seen or heard Ms. Teton, here is the video of KIFI’s report:
Earlier this week the Bureau of Engraving and Printing announced that in honor of Low Vision Awareness Month, blind or visually impaired persons can request a free iBill currency reader as part of the BEP Meaningful Access program.
iBill® Talking Banknote Identifier
The iBill currency reader is a product of Orbit Research. Retailing at $119.00, iBill is a pocket-sized reader that can identify all Federal Reserve Notes in circulation. Orbit Research claims that “most bills are identified in less than one second” and can announce “the denomination in a clear female voice; tone and vibration modes protect privacy.” It requires one AAA battery that is included.
The Meaningful Access Program came about as the result of a settlement between the government and the American Council of the Blind who brought suit claiming that U.S. currency violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This was first confirmed by the courts in 2006 and subsequent appeals had judges requesting a settlement. Following the 2009 settlement, the BEP began to work on meaningful access programs.
IDEAL Currency Identifier
One of their first attempts was EyeNote, an iPhone app the camera to scan the note and identify it in 2-4 seconds. Although slower than the iBill, it is a very capable app that will allow the visually impaired iPhone user to carry one less device.
BEP developed EyeNote
According to the BEP Meaningful Access mobile application page, the BEP worked in collaboration with the Department of Education to have the IDEAL Currency Identifier that works on Android devices. This app can be found on the Google Play Store.
A more impressive app is the LookTel Money Reader available for iOS and the Mac. For the visually impaired traveler, not only can Money Reader recognize U.S. currency, but the currency of 20 other countries including the Australian Dollar, British Pound, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Indian Rupee, Japanese Yen, and Saudi Arabian Riyal. Money Reader is faster at identifying currency than EyeNote and can identify fragments, as I found in my last review.
In order to qualify for the free iBill reader, a “competent authority” must certify that your vision is 20/200 or less in your better eye with corrective lenses or that the widest diameters of visual field angular distance not greater than 20 degrees or that the “competent authority” certifies that you cannot read any printed material regardless of correction. The competent authority is usually a doctor, registered nurse, licensed therapists, institutions and welfare agencies familiar with your case.
LookTel Money Reader
If you think you, a relative, or someone you care for qualifies, download and fill out the simple form and send it to the BEP address on the form&rsqou;s instructions. It will take up to eight weeks for you to receive your free iBill currency reader.
As an aside, this is not a taxpayer funded venture. BEP earns its funding from their business operations. Most of their money is earned from printing money for Federal Reserve. They also earn a smaller amount of profit from sales to collectors.
- iBill image courtesy of Orbit Research.
- IDEAL Currency Identifier screenshot courtesy of IDEAL Group Inc. on the Google Play Store.
- All other images are property of the author.
After spending time digging out from the Blizzard of 2016, I was reading email and was reminded about a conversation I had earlier this week. Someone asked when they would see 2016 coins in their change. As someone who also hunts through pocket change, I thought it would be interesting to discuss what is involved with what business would call the movement of inventory in the supply chain.
Marriner S. Eccles Building where the Federal Reserve Board is located
The process begins when the Federal Reserve places their annual order with the U.S. Mint for coins and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for currency. Like any organization that deals with inventory, the Federal Reserve will estimate its order based on a projection of demand.
Inventory management for the Federal Reserve requires them to know how much currency is in circulation, how much will be required based on world-wide economic factors, and what would be required to replace the current currency supply. Since the Federal Reserve ships U.S. currency world wide, especially the $100 Federal Reserve Notes, someone has to project what the world is going to demand based on economic factors that it has no participation in.
Life Expectancy of U.S. Currency
|Denomination of Bill
||Life Expectancy (Years)
Not only does the Federal Reserve has to track the amount of money in circulation but they also have to account for the different denominations in order to replace torn and worn notes. For instance, it was once estimated that 90-percent of the order for $1 Federal Reserve Notes were delivered to replace worn notes in circulation.
Once the order is placed by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing work to fulfill that order. The U.S. Mint strikes the coins and has they placed in one-ton ballistic bags for delivery. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing bundles the currency in packs. Multiple packs make a brick. Bricks are then piled on pallets that are used for delivery.
From Philadelphia and Denver, the coin bags are loaded onto secured trucks and transferred to the Federal Reserve for distribution. A similar transfer happens at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington and Fort Worth where the pallets are shipped to the Federal Reserve.
Although there may be a few warehouses and other distribution processes involved, the coins and currency are shipped to one of 26 “cash rooms” around the country based on need. These cash rooms are special warehouses operated by the Federal Reserve branch that store the physical currency before being distributed to the member banks.
Since the New York Federal Reserve Bank processes currency orders for overseas shipping, they order the most currency of the 12 regional banks. San Francisco provides banking services for Alaska, Hawaii, and other transactions throughout the Pacific Rim, orders the second most amount of currency.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Before currency can enter circulation, a member bank places an order with the Federal Reserve. It is then delivered to them from the closest cash room with the appropriate inventory necessary to fulfill the order.
Your personal bank is like the corner store in the ordering system. When the shelves are bare or threatening to go bare, they order the inventory of currency they need. The corner bank just do not order money from the Federal Reserve. Banking companies work on behalf of their branches to manage inventory. The big bank may have their own cash management operations that help ensure that they not only have the appropriate amount of currency available but they do not have too much in storage. Like product inventories, idle money is not good for business.
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Baltimore Coin Storage
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Cash Operations
Many banks hire logistics companies to help with the flow of their currency inventory. These companies are the ones driving the armored trucks you see around town that delivers currency on order. While these logistic companies are registered currency distribution services and have permits to pick up inventory from the Federal Reserve cash rooms on behalf of the member banks, they also provide storage and delivery services.
Although your corner bank has a vault, each banking company limits the amount of currency they keep on site because of security concerns. When they need additional currency or have an excess that needs to be stored, they call the logistics company to physically move the inventory.
These logistics company do not take the currency and put it on the shelf until the bank calls back and asks for it to be returned. If a bank deposits a bag of quarters with the logistics company but another bank asks for bags of quarters, that bag could be transferred to another bank. Banks may order currency from the Federal Reserve or smaller banks from other cooperating banks, the logistics companies fulfill the orders from existing stock before accessing new stock.
Four of the largest cash logistics companies
Depending on how fast the currency is needed to circulate by your corner bank, existing currency can circulate through the logistics processing center long before the new inventory is placed into circulation.
During the recent downturn in the economy, the banks’ inventories of coins increased as people emptied jars, jugs, and bottles of coins for necessities. As the coins were returned to the bank the inventories rose beyond what they needed for circulation reducing the requirement for the banks to order more coins from the Federal Reserve. This is why it was not surprising that many people did not see current year coins until as early as April.
It is more difficult to gauge when currency reaches circulation unless there is a change in the series designation. The Series of a note is the date followed by a letter indicating that there is a change, usually to the autograph of the Treasurer or the Secretary of the Treasury. Although there is no rule, the Series date changes with an administration and the letter is added and changes as the autographs changes. Sometimes, the series date changes with the design of the currency. These are recent conventions and not the rule. All printing and design decisions are made by the Federal Reserve, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the U.S. Secret Service as a team.
If you want to know when the 2016 coins will reach circulation, the answer is “I don’t know.” Considering the economy is in better shape than in years past, money continues to circulate, and the U.S. Mint has produced more coins in a single year than any other in its history, if you have not seen a 2016 coin in your pocket change soon, then my best guess will be in mid-February—if the weather holds up!
- Eccles Building image courtesy of the Federal Reserve.
- Federal Reserve Bank of New York building courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
- Image of the Federal Reserve Bank Baltimore Coin Room courtesy of NPR.
- Image of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank Cash Operations courtesy of Glassdoor.com.
- Armored vehicle image courtesy of Prinéa.
Over the summer, a Harris Poll was conducted to understand how Americans feel about abolishing the one-cent coin and the paper dollar note. Even though there are pundits calling for these changes and even the end of physical currency, Harris found that those wanting to keep the lowly one-cent coin continue to hold the majority opinion.
According to Harris, 51-percent of those polled oppose abolishing the minting and use of one-cent coins versus 29-percent in favor. In 2008, 56-percent were opposed and 24-percent were in favor. While some will see a small movement to being in favor of eliminating the one-cent coin, the change is not significant when considering that the last poll was seven years ago shortly before the height of the recession and the beginning of the bank failures.
Series 1935 $1 FRN Reverse Early Design
Every so often an article is written, usually by the political elite, about ending lower denomination coins for many reasons including the high cost of mintage or the inconvenience of their existence. Others point to rise of non-cash transactions and the rise of digitally created currencies as the future.
Those of us who work in areas outside the larger commercial world has experience with a cash economy that is not tied to economic status. One of those is the numismatics industry. While many dealers will take credit cards, and will pass along the fees along to the customer, many dealers have said that most of their off-line business is a cash-based business. While larger purchases are done using checks, most will leave shows with more hard currency than other types of payments.
Collectibles businesses are very reliant on cash. In my business, I do accept credit cards but when I do shows the overwhelming majority of my business is in cash. A few weeks ago I did a two day show and had one of my best weekends ever but only had one sale using a credit card.
1909-VDB Lincoln Cent
There are people who are leery of using credit and debit cards for every transaction. We use cash to limit our exposure. In this connected world, the credit and debit card leaves a digital breadcrumb that is available to be hacked. I cannot tell you how many times I watched people in local convenience stores punch in their codes in a matter I could see them and then leave their receipts behind. This could be used to steal your money and your debit cards are not covered the same as credit cards. But the public does not see this.
A week does not go by without a report of the hacking of personal information that should not be made public. Unfortunately, it is getting to be like rain on the hot-tin roof, after a while the sound blends into the background.
According to the Federal Reserve, there was approximately $1.39 trillion in circulation as of September 30, 2015, of which $1.34 trillion was in Federal Reserve notes. That represents a lot of money that would have to be accounted for if we were to go into a cashless society. It would take a significant effort that would not make for good public policy.
The calls to make changes to change are beginning to drone on as background noise like rain on a hot-tin roof.
UPDATE: English version of the video added below.
While looking at my timeline on Twitter, I found a tweet from what could be classified as the public relations office of Banco de México (Bank of Mexico), the Mexican central bank. Although my Spanish is barely above what I remembered from two semesters as an undergrad, I know enough that if I had any question to call up Google Translate for a fairly good translation.
This one was pretty easy and I understood it before asking for help. It asks “Do you know how banknotes are made in Mexico?” Looking at the question, I shrugged and thought they were made the same way they were made in the United States. While that is pretty much the case, seeing the process from another country’s perspective, especially a neighbor, could be interesting.
While the tweet was easy, the video is all in Spanish which really tested my translation skills. After I figured out that the first part talked about the early history of Mexican money and how it was initially produced by the American Banknote Company, I stopped thinking about the translation and just watched. I picked up a few things in context and liked the presentation. I like the scenes where they test the durability of the banknotes. I do not know if the Bureau of Engraving and Printing does that, but it is an interesting concept!
See the video for yourself:
Thanks to Coin Collectors Blog reader Rombat Stephan, he found that the Bank of Mexico published an English version of the video on YouTube:
Thank you Rombat Stephan!
Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew announced on Wednesday that a newly redesigned $10 Federal Reserve Note will feature the portrait of a woman. Lew will make the final decision as to who will appear on the note in accordance to 12 U.S.C. § 418.
The current $10 Federal Reserve Note featuring Alexander Hamilton
The new note is scheduled for release in the year 2020, which coincides with the passage of the 19th Amendment that declared:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
According to the Treasury Department, the $10 note was selected to be redesigned to add Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence (ACD) based on their study of counterfeiting activity. This decision was made by the ACD Steering Committee, an inter-agency group that monitors a number of factors that go into the maintenance of U.S. currency. One of the factors includes the ongoing discussion of features that will help increase accessibility for the visually impaired as part of the court mandated Meaningful Access Program. Treasury reports that the new note “will include a tactile feature that increases accessibility for the visually impaired.”
The last time Treasury changed the portrait on U.S. currency was in 1928 when Andrew Jackson replaced Grover Cleveland on the $20 notes. Alexander Hamilton first appeared on the $10 note in 1923 when his portrait replace Andrew Jackson’s. Although the portraits have been redesigned, the same men have appeared on U.S. currency during small-sized note era (since 1928).
The last woman to appear on U.S. currency was Martha Washington. Our first First Lady’s portrait appeared on the $1 Silver Certificate between 1891 and 1896.
Series 1886 $1 Silver Certificate featuring Martha Washington (Fr #217)
Lew is asking the public to provide suggestions as to whom should be the new face on the $10 note. She should be a woman “who was a champion for our inclusive democracy,” according to the Treasury statement. You can submit comments on their new website thenew10.treasury.gov or make your suggestion on social media using the hashtag #TheNew10.
You can also visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth on June 24 and meeting with United States Treasurer Rosie Rios and Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Len Olijar to give them your ideas. A similar event will be held at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. on July 15. You can find more information on the BEP website.
The organization Women on 20s has been lobbying to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 note. Their reason was that our seventh president was not exactly a nice guy and his treatment of Native tribes was less than humane along with other transgressions. In their online vote, Harriet Tubman was their popular selection. If Tubman was selected she would also be the first African-American to appear on U.S. paper currency (George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington were the first African-American men to appear on coins; Duke Ellington was the last appearing the District of Columbia quarter).
Mockup of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman
In fact, Hamilton shared his bed with more than one woman – making him one of the first subjects of a political sex scandal.
While his wife, Elizabeth, and kids were staying with relatives, Hamilton began an affair with a young woman named Maria Reynolds in 1791. He was secretary of the Treasury at the time, and Reynolds and her husband started extorting money from Hamilton. Hamilton eventually confessed to the affair in full detail in a pamphlet that also featured letters between him and his mistress.
Interestingly, according to Bloomberg news, “The $10 bill is the third least-circulated among the seven major denominations, accounting for 5.2 percent of 36.4 billion notes in use at the end of last year.” The $100 note is the most circulated of all U.S. currency notes.
Image of the current $10 note courtesy of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Image of the Series 1886 $1 Silver Certificate courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Mockup of Harriet Tubman on the $20 note courtesy of Women on 20s