Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The faces of paper money

When you're reading about guys like Hamilton, it's kind of fun to whip out some bills and look at their portraits.

Hamilton is on the $10 bill. These days, the $20 has become the dominant bill for cash usage. It's the default denomination at ATMs, so you typically get twenties when you restock your cash, and then you're always breaking twenties. The ten-spot is neither here nor there. It's too big for most vending machines, but too small to give you the comfort level of a twenty, that you have enough on you for most small transactions.

For the current price index, I think Hamilton -- the architect of our finance system -- would be the fitting image for the twenty. Jackson on the twenty is an absurd historical contradiction. A die hard opponent of central banking -- opposition to the second Bank of the United States may have been the the number one priority of his presidency -- Jackson might be spinning in his grave over this one.

In a way, the most fitting bill face is Jefferson on the two dollar bill. The $2 bill is reissued every few years and vanishes from circulation almost immediately, as people hoard it as a curiosity. The now-you-see-it, now-you-don't quality of that bill symbolizes the similar quality of Jefferson's political positions, and reflects his ambivalence about being the President at all given his predilection against a strong central government.

You can see a complete list of who's on what bill at the Bureau of Printing website, here. My namesake Madison is on "the $5,000 bill." Come on, was there ever really a $5,000 bill?

If you want to increase your blog traffic and encourage readers to post comments here, I'd suggest that you refrain from posts about "the faces of paper money."

Maybe you can go back to posting pictures of puppies instead.

I'm just saying . . .
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]