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Hamilton has last laugh

After a week of leaks from his own federal agency, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew publicly announced yesterday the reversal of his 2015 decision to push Alexander Hamilton off the $10 Federal Reserve Note.

Instead, President Andrew Jackson will get the boot from the $20 denomination to be replaced by Harriet Tubman, a former slave, abolitionist, civil and women’s rights leader of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The lengthy process to introduce new paper money could yet end the current wave of adulation of Lew's decision.

Supporters of the design change, the Women on 20s organization, which conducted an online poll last year to put Tubman in the running for a place on American paper money, both lauded the news and criticized the possibility that it will be the year 2030 before the new $20s will enter circulation.

Lew promised only that the new design would be revealed by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gave women the right to vote.

Initially, Lew had promised a woman on the $10 by 2020 in part because that denomination was picked in 2013 for a new generation design makeover.

That decision was criticized by Women on $20s because the $10 is not as widely circulated as the $20. Jackson was also criticized as a genocidal slave owner.

Then, supporters of Alexander Hamilton rallied to defend the first American Treasury secretary.

Their efforts were bolstered by the huge success of the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

Hamilton will remain on the face of the $10. The back will lose the Treasury building and gain images of women’s suffrage leaders.

The back of the $5 will feature a civil rights scene. Currently it shows the Lincoln Memorial.

The Professional Numismatists Guild issued a statement lauding the changes. “As everyone in the hobby knows, money is history you can hold in your hands, and the Professional Numismatists Guild welcomes the planned changes to our circulating money to help educate the public about important people, places and events in U.S. history,” said James Simek, Secretary of the Professional Numismatists Guild and a long-time paper money dealer.”

Certainly anytime money is put in the spotlight, the collecting hobby benefits.

When I wrote in my March 15 blog, "Who knows? By then Jackson might be toast and Hamilton will have the last laugh," how was I to know how fast this would come to pass?

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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