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Save us from zombies

There might be fewer money zombies walking among us in future thanks to the current national discussion of who should be on the $20 bill.

However you might feel as a collector about the issue of replacing President Andrew Jackson on the $20 Federal Reserve Note with a portrait of Harriet Tubman, the very fact that we are paying attention to the possibility is very positive for the numismatic hobby.

For that, we should thank “Women on 20s” for the campaign against Jackson.

In order for the collecting hobby to grow, new collectors must be inspired to notice their money.

That is not easy.

Americans are like zombies when they handle cash.

As coins and bills pass through their fingers, many don’t know whose portraits appear on them. They see them, but don’t notice them.

I expect because of the popular slang term “Benjamin” for $100 bills that many more people know who is on this denomination compared to the number of persons who know who is on the $10 or $50.

But even with that help, how many still cannot come up with the name “Franklin” after being prompted with “Benjamin?”

I expect it would be more than most collectors think.

It is a problem.

That is why telling people there is a possibility that Jackson will be removed from the $20 is a good thing. It might alter the zombie mental state some noncollectors have about money.

Some might become fighting mad that the government would even consider taking Jackson off the $20.

This feeling can be powerful even if they did not know Jackson is on the $20 in the first place.

It ends their zombie mental state about money.

Noncollectors who like the idea of Tubman on the $20 might also have had no idea of who is on the $20 at the start of their thinking about the topic.

But advocacy of something also would end their zombie state when it comes to money.

Some of the people in both camps will begin to think like collectors do.

If Tubman is put on the $20, the notes with Jackson on them will eventually disappear.

This might be followed by a note or two being tucked away as a souvenir.

From this thinking followed by action comes the birth of new collectors.

So however the debate about Tubman vs. Jackson proceeds, for the sake of the future of numismatics, I hope it goes on for a long, long time.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez has placed bill H.R. 1910 before the House of Representatives. It is called “The Put a Woman on the Twenty Act.”

It does not specify who the woman should be, but it will keep us talking about the issue.

Get ready to welcome a few more collectors as a result.

If you still haven’t checked the results of the national campaign to change the design on the $20, use the link below to find out more.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."