How would you redesign American currency?

In response to the pit thread on dollar coins, suppose you were given control of American currency. You have to redo American bills on a polymer-plastic like the Australians and you have to forego dollar bills in exchange for $1 and $2 coins. You can keep all of the people who are now on currency or you can totally change it up.

Would you----

Change who is depicted on currency?

If so, who would you add to the currency (picturewise)?

How colorful would you go?

Would you have photographs or full-color artwork on the new currency?

Would you make each denomination a different color?

Same size as now or a smaller/larger size (assume the vending machines and all will recognize the new size)?

Curious to see suggestions.

I’ll just answer the who I’d put on currency part-

I’d probably replace Andrew Jackson with a Native American. Since Pocahontas is the first one in our history who we have a likeness of (this 1891 portrait is Anglo-idealized from an 18th century engraving of a now lostcontemporary drawing) and because she was the first woman ever to appear on U.S. currency I’d go with her for historical reasons.

I’d replace Grant on the $50 with FDR, with a newly commissioned mural of the Depression and WW2 era for the reverse.

For the hundred dollar bill— hmm. I like Franklin a lot, but… nah, no but, he can stay. But the $20 bill I’d issue in several denominations, each valid, with a more diverse number of obverses- MLK perhaps, or it could be voted upon.

Anyway, how would you mix it up?

I’d make them all different colours, the notes.

The first thing to go would be the “In God We Trust” since that is completely inappropriate. I’d move Franklin to a smaller denomination and then add as many cryptic images as possible to drive the conspiracy theorists nuts.

If George is getting bumped from the $1 bill, then he has to go on the dollar coin. The reverse should be the Seal of the US.

$2 coin - This is going to be made fun of, so we need someone with gravitas on the obverse. Maybe MLK. The reverse should be Lady Liberty.

Keep Abe on the $5. Make it a much more colorful green, with transparancies and such. Lincoln Memorial on the back, but a much bigger and better engraving.

Put a rampant eagle on the $10, with some National Monument on the back. Half Dome, or Mt. Rushmore.

Let people vote on the $20, and rotate a new person onto it every 10 years or so.

I like replacing Grant on the #50, but not the reverse. Make the mural one of “Domestic Productivity.”

The $100 should stay Bennie, but throw a turkey into the design on the back, just for historical giggles.

Raises a good point: the western states are unrepresented on currency. (Not really that relevant to currency, but the Grand Canyon would certainly be an attractive bill reverse.)

I’m totally behind you. In fact I’d get behind a $5 coin as well.

Paper bills are meant to be able to fund a substantial purchase. In my opinion, you should be able to use coins to buy, say, a meal. Totally impractical now. You shouldn’t need bills until you get up to the level of – oh I don’t know – shoes.

As the OP of the pit thread says, though, the biggest change we need is to abolish the $1 bill. People will be pissy about it for a couple of years, but they’ll get over it soon.

But more in the spirit of this thread – I dig anti-counterfeiting stuff in currency. Let’s add some transparency, or a hologram. Also a taco.

I’d replace all the politicians with artists, scientists, preachers, writers, musicians, etc.

Oh. And add holograms. Holograms are good. Every banknote needs some shiny. :slight_smile:

I’d make it worth a bit more, maybe 30-40%.

Allow advertising at least on the bills.

Just to make people nervous, I’d put Robert Oppenheimer’s portrait on one of the notes, with atomic-related imagery on the back. Maybe use a hologram so that when you tilt it, “In God We Trust” becomes “Lo, I am Become Death, Destroyer of Worlds.”

Wow. My first response thread. And that for a thread that I expected to drop like a rock… :smack: Just goes to show I suppose.

Just a bit of clarification in case it’s needed.

I wasn’t pitting the dollar coin, but rather the implemenation of it. I would love to have a dollar coin. But it’s never going to work without losing the dollar bill.

(continued next post. Running out of edit time)

Keep the front mostly traditional. So many US banknotes are overseas nowadays, we need to keep a strong link to the past. I would lose Jackson, and King seems a good replacement.

If we hang up the single (and if the Kennedy clan lets us) then George has to go on the dollar coin.

With the reverses of the note we can go a little nuts. I would suppose the choices are landscapes and buildings or people. I would rather go for people.

Sorry about the split post. Accidentally hit post instead of advanced…

Anyways, to answer this thread.

I’d do away with singles, fives, and tens in bills and make them into coins. Maybe even twenties.

The most significant change I would make to the remaining paper would be to add a feature to make the bills readily distinguishable by the blind.

I’d make the coins lighter, maybe even a plastic polymer as well. Or even something with carbon nanotubes once the tech becomes viable. That should make counterfiting a royal PITA.

Do away with the penny of course, nickels provide enough “granularity” for all transactions. Even penny double bubble bubblegum is a nickel now. And I haven’t seen a penny gumball machine in years.

I’d go with historically significant people on the fronts, not necessarily presidents and I like the idea of landmarks and historical events for the backs.

Beavers! Beavers!

Plastic, not paper.

That is, instead of printed paper bills, laminated plastic cards the size of a Social Security card, or a little less.

Laminated plastic would last longer, & be cleaner.

Perhaps the larger denominations could have Gold leaf inside, as a seal & security element.

Different designs,too. Of course.

No more Presidents. Natural wonders & historic events only.

Pennies, nickels and dimes are gone

We now have

Quarters - keep Washington here
$1 coin - go with the rotating presidents
$2 coin - changing historical figures (MLK, SBA, etc.) This is a small coin, dime sized
$5 coin - Just transfer Lincoln on over, nickel sized coin
$10 bill - No need to take Hamilton off
$20 bill - Jackson’s gotta go. I like the idea of FDR
$50 bill - Grant has to go too. I think Jefferson would be a nice replacement
$100 bill - Ben stays right where he is.

I would not put rotating images or designs on the paper bills. Bills are generally easier to forge than coins, and are higher value, having changing designs will just confuse people. We have people who don’t recognize a $2 bill, I don’t want them thinking someone’s counterfeit is just a new design they didn’t hear about.

For the bills, add some more advanced anti counterfeiting features, like they use overseas. I don’t support really bright colors, I like the understated hues.

Okay, but what about all of the ATMs, vending machines, and public transit ticket machines that would have to be replaced or overhauled? That would draw a lot of ire.

(BTW, I think we’ve done this thread before, but I can’t find it.)


Use barcodes, embedded in the bill.
Bardcode scanners are cheap.

I would not go with a plastic… the ones I have seen in Oz, Sir Lanka, Thailand etc. tend to get worn and lose color and become scuffed. I would opt for something more like Swiss Francs with mircoholes and embedded holograms. Absolutely different colors, but keep the $100 mostly green for historical reasons. Add features for the blind and make them different sizes (not 100% sure on this one). Jefferson replaces Jackson and FDR replaces Grant. Ditch the 1&2 notes. And since the USD is so worthless, introduce a $200 note.

I’d even consider making the color schemes in tandem with the Euro (still get to keep the 100 green).

And barcodes can be replicated with a photocopier - any vending machine that relies on a barcode reader to identify the notes is going to be filled with useless paper.