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US Bills Should Have Stories

by Bill Tuttle

When we first started minting our own coins and printing our dollars on paper, we basically followed the Europeans.  Until it became too costly to produce, the US cent was about the same size as a British half penny.  Even though the US silver coins weren’t “sterling,” (.925 fine) they basically matched the sizes of Britain’s 3 Pence, 6 pence, Shilling and so on to the Crown. (That is the reason some numismatists refer to our Silver Dollar as a “Crown.”)

Today the US should once again follow the Europeans in coin design and size.  We should relegate the cent to “cyber space” like the mil (1/10 cent) and round to the nearest 5 or “zero” cent. Produce the new 5 cent coin but leave it the same as the current “nickel.” Replicate the sizes of the dime, quarter, and half dollar to the Euro sizes, but keep the compositions of the coins. Eliminate both the one- and two-dollar bills for only coins. The “golden” dollar coin should stay, but a bimetallic $2.50 (revived “Quarter Eagle”) coin could be created to compare with the Canadian  ($2 coin) or the 2 Euro coin. Circulating commemoratives of “special” historic American events/anniversaries could be minted in 40% clad silver- ($5 coin) and 90% silver for the $10 coin.

Today, the world currencies (paper and/or polymer) are loaded with color and most have “sort of a story” to tell or feature a national “emblem.” US paper money still lacks a “story to tell.” Even though color has been added in the background of most Federal Reserve notes, they don’t match up to the “brightness” of other world bank notes.  A great “finale” for the Dollar Bill-before it is eliminated for just the dollar coin-would be to have a portrait of Washington on the obverse (as it is now, except in color) and the scene of him kneeling and praying at Valley Forge (like the Christmas stamp of years past) with “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the reverse.

On the reverse of the $5 bill, have Lincoln giving his Gettysburg Address speech with the motto:” government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Since most of the world is changing over from “special paper” to polymer notes, the US should also. Polymer offers so much more than “special paper”, such as difficult to copy features. It would be a good idea to adapt the old “fuddy-duddy” US coins and notes to modern times.

 

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