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Smithsonian display perfectly timed

Supporters of the Women on 20s effort from last year are disappointed that they did not succeed in pushing Andrew Jackson off the $20.

Their success in persuading Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to put a woman on a new $10 after the year 2020 disappoints them insofar as the process takes five years – an eternity in the Internet Age.

Further, Lew’s waffling over removing Alexander Hamilton and then saying he will somehow remain on the new $10 irritates not only Women on 20s, but supporters of Hamilton.

As one of the Founding Fathers and exponent of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers, he has turned out to be more popular than Lew bargained for.

It doesn’t hurt that a hit play on Broadway in New York City is called “Hamilton” and is based on the life of this, the first Treasury secretary.

This is quite a preamble, isn’t it? It is especially because my purpose this morning is to pass on the news that the Smithsonian Institution opens a new exhibit on Friday, March 18, called “Women on Money.”

Though it is located in the political capital of the United States, focal point of the Women on 20s campaign, the Smithsonian perhaps turns the controversy to its advantage.

“The U.S. Department of Treasury’s planned redesign of the $10 note to include a woman will mark the first major change to the appearance of American paper money since the late 1920s,” said Ellen Feingold, curator of the museum’s National Numismatic Collection. “This is an opportunity for Americans to think about the many roles that women have played in the making of our nation.”

The new Smithsonian exhibit will help put the present political discussion in historical context.

It will offer more than 50 examples of women on money. Naturally, most of these did not originate in the United States.

Many women on money were royalty, Cleopatra or Queen Elizabeth I, which will not surprise coin collectors.

It is an open-ended exhibit in the “Stories on Money” Gallery, so it might still be there if or when we do get a new $10 with a woman on it.

But 2020 is a long way off.

There will be a new administration and a different Treasury secretary.

Who knows? By then Jackson might be toast and Hamilton will have the last laugh.

In the meantime, go see the exhibit.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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