Our Folding Money's Come Unstowed


Cezar Chavez on money: While you're at it, why not just stamp "A NOVELTY" on the front?

If the first thing you think when a guy introduces himself as a "creative strategy consultant specializing in transforming brands into wants and desires" is "watch your wallet," you're more right than you think.

Creative strategy consultant Richard Smith has put together a field of competitors for his 2010 Dollar ReDe$ign Project.

Candidates range from arty but reverent to abstract to stuff only I could like. Anti-Lincolnites may get a charge out of this Bill of Rights series, in which Honest Abe—a president even more free with search and seizure than most, and possibly the only president to quarter troops in private homes—shares the fiver with the Fourth Amendment and the unsung Third Amendment.

Vote on the candidates here.

I kind of like this new spin on a classic.

The greenback could certainly use a makeover, but I'm not sure about Smith's motivation:

"[O]ur great 'rival', the Euro," he writes, "looks so spanky in comparison it seems the only clear way to revive this global recession is to rebrand and redesign."

Leave aside whether the global recession needs to be revived. Does anybody think the Euro looks spanky? In ancient days, Europe did in fact have it all over the U.S. in terms of beautiful currency: the full-color Delacroix 100-franc note, the blinding sunflower on the 50 gulden, the 20-franc watercolor of Claude Debussy, Gauss on the 10 deutschmark bill. How could our olive drab regiments compete?

That all ended with the Euro. I think what finally brought the nations of Europe together around a bill series as bland as the Euro is that they realized soon they'd have to start putting women on their money.

Why would we want to be copying European design now?

Naysayers in the ReDe$ign comment threads give short shrift to Smith's (possibly tongue-in-cheek) claim that the redesign will boost the economy. Why do they hate America?


NEXT: Sac Bee, SF Chron Join the Golden State's Shower of Anti-Prop. 19 Editorials

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  1. If we’re going to redesign the money, how about something more durable while we’re at it?…..notes.html

    1. I brought a couple of fivers back from Oz in 1994. Mylar is the way to go. But they use coins for one and two dolar denominations and they have taken the penny out of circulation.

      Very sensible to my way of thinking.

      1. Canada’s likely to take the same approach. Mylar banknotes are already in the works, and there’s been off-and-on debate about withdrawing the penny (since the copper content is already worth more than 1 cent).

        And I happen to like Canadian banknote design much more than US notes. Color makes it easy to identify denominations at a glance.

        1. Was at a convetion in Toronto some years ago. Some Canadian made the same comment about the colors making it easy to tell which is which. I told him we’d developed this really cool system in America to determine what our denominations were quite easily. He got all pissy and said ‘yeah, what?’

          I said,’We call it reading’.

          1. Sightist!

            Reading doesn’t work so well if you are blind. Neither does color.

            Having the bills different sizes as is done in many countries is a simple solution.

    2. let’s go back to salt wheels, and they taste… well salty.

  2. Is it too much to ask that the denomination be in chrome lettering bolted to a black velvet background? And I don’t mean any pansy impression of chrome on velvet, I mean actual chrome on velvet. Fuck yeah.

    1. I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    2. Riveted. Bolts are for pussies.

      1. Yeah, but as other commenters have pointed out, as the value of the denomination changes, we have to be flexible enough change our green- velvet-backs with it. Bolts make that doable. (I’m nothing if not pragmatic.)

  3. I don’t hate the one Tim likes, either. But, if it is not broken, why “fix” it?

    If we’re going to redesign the money, how about something more durable while we’re at it?

    I barely use cash as it is; I would much rather not pay for more expensive polymer notes. Paper seems to work just fine for everybody, so how about we leave well enough alone, eh?

  4. I demand a redesign that incorporates secret messages and images that appear when you fold the money, like the back inside cover of Mad.

    1. Something like “this note is backed by debt”…

    2. Don’t the conspiracy theorists already believe we have this?

      1. Yup. (See link under name.)

      2. Yup! Sorry for the non-active link, the spam filter is picky today:

      3. Yup. And I’d post a damn link to prove it, but the spam filter keeps stopping me. Trying this way:

      4. Yes. Google fold bill 9/11. (I’d post a link but the spam filter hates me.)

  5. Any redesign should leave space so the bills can be recalled so more zeros can be printed on them. With the debt rising and the Fed printing Monopoly money, a revaluation will eventually come.

  6. Our coins are 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 & 100.
    Our bills are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 & 100.
    Why is there no $25 bill?

    1. cause that would be queer, as a 3 dollar bill.

    2. You forgot the $2 bill.

      1. Everybody forgets the $2 bill.

        1. hey everyone, how about a $9 bill?

          1. Ever hear the old joke about the dumb counterfeiters who made up a batch of $18 bills? They didn’t know what to do with them, but one of the gang said he was from a really remote backwoods area where the people were so ignorant they could pass them there.

            So they went there, went into a store, and asked if they could change an $18 bill. “Sure! Would you like two nines or three sixes?”

        2. If there is an afterlife, I like to think that Jefferson smiles that the dollar they put him on is often forgotten and thought of as fake. 😉

    3. Actually, intead of a quarter, Australians have a Twenty-Cent coin.

      Probably has something to do with the original decimal conversion. The twenty-cent coin would have had the same value as the old two shilling coin.

    4. Also, if we are going to color code them, lets go with the already-established standard:

      1 – white
      5 – red
      25 – green
      100 – black

  7. Feh. The Euro designs are horrid. Aside from teh pastel shading (of course!), the images are all make-believe castles-in-the-air stuff. Which, while just perfect, really, just underlines the whole hideousness of the Euro project.

    1. I also have a dislike for “modern” currency designs, which look cheesy to me. Give me traditional, old-fashioned stuff that looks solid and dependable. It’s the same reason a bank seems more reliable when it looks like a Greek temple instead of a McDonald’s.

  8. Why bother? Soon enough we’ll be shoveling paper dollars into the fireplace just to keep warm.

  9. How about adding ‘IN gold we trust’ to the bills?

  10. Gold is evil! Glenn Beck! Tea Baggers! Arghh!

  11. I’m in favor of a colorful redesign of US currency. If the Fed is going to print untold amounts of valueless bills, it is fitting that it looks like Monopoly money.

    1. hell, let’s just use the monopoly money…grab a game and start spending, they’ll never be able to stop all of us…

      1. Great, so the monocle and tophat crowd gets replaced by the people with a closet full of board games. Ugh.

        1. I like the race car…vroom, vroom

  12. Why does the pyramid have a smiley face?

  13. I voted for the child’s crayon design. It’s an accurate description of how our government views the dollar. It can be created at whim, hung up on the fridge to make their constituents think they really value it, then thrown in the trash and replaced with a new one. Perfect!

  14. I think the new currency should incorporate e-ink technology and wireless networking capabilities so that the Treasury can remotely change the denomination as necessary.

  15. On thing I think we should copy from the Euro, and most other currencies, is differential sizes of different denominations. It doesn’t hurt the sighted*, but allows the blind to know what they’re spending.

    * If anything, it helps them as well as it becomes easier to flip through your wallet and know what you have in there.

    1. that’s just so euro-stupid…maybe we should make our money like the singing hallmark cards and when we open our wallets they all sing out how much they’re worth…then we wouldn’t even need the colors or sizes…course it would really suck if you were deaf, but then it already suckes to be deaf…)makes American Sign Language for “fuck you deaf people”

  16. All I want is the common-sense move of eliminating the $1 bill and circulating the $1 coin and $2 bill much more. Is that so much to ask?

    1. You’re going to kill the strippers with all that weight.

  17. I like the idea of differentially colored bills. I also think that taking elected officials off the bills should be a priority. Once you are elected to office, you should be disqualified from being depicted.

    1. “…even if you’re dead?”
      Chester A Arthur

  18. I think a lot of the nay-sayers see the Obama 1 and the FDR 100 and recoil in horror. After that, there’s nothing left to do but knee jerk into unconsciousness.

    The best response is that this would cost taxpayer money to ‘fix’ something that isn’t broken.

  19. The 1 and the 5 should be coin only. The Sacagawea is fine as is, the 5 should be a pentgaon-shaped coin.

    1. The Sacagawea isn’t the currently minted dollar coin, it’s the Presidential coins.

      1. Saca my weenie, hoser

  20. Personally, I am sick of presidents and monuments on the money. And some of those designs have people like Cesar Chavez… WTH? I think it should be famous Americans or American events.

    Edgar Allen Poe?
    Mark Twain?
    Babe Ruth?
    Ben Franklin is fine.
    George & Ira Gershwin?
    Norman Rockwell?

    The list could go on and on.

    We should probably wait until after the economy collapses before we change the money though. No sense wasting a good design. 😉

    1. Ghengis & Sylvia Khan?

  21. Maybe if we just execute counterfeiters with extreme prejudice the problem would go away.

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