Its Time For Some New Currency

Oh what a mistake it was adding 'In God We Trust' to the United States currency.

Origami Money Cats

It started with coins in 1864, gained new legs with the motto in 1956, then made its debut on paper currency in 1957.

Before and After

Isn't is about time we think about updating our currency? And while we are at it, shouldn't we drop this blatant violation of the first amendment? Graphic Designer, Michael Tyznik thinks so; and he's got some neat concepts about doing it.

American banknotes are in dire need of a redesign. Even though the green color of money is deeply interwoven into the nation's culture, the need for color differentiation between denominations has forced the inclusion of color. The recent redesign of banknotes by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is poorly executed and aesthetically lacking. Because the coloring of the current notes is so subtle, it is still hard to differentiate between denominations by that method alone.

My proposed redesign keeps the culturally important green color of money, but introduces a brightly colored holographic strip into each denomination, making them easy to tell apart. This strip includes embossed dots for the sight-impaired as well, making currency far more accessible.

One of the most important things about America is our Bill of Rights. It is possibly the most important information any citizen can have. The design of our money currently contains semi-religious (the eye in the pyramid) and overtly religious (“In God We Trust”) symbols and text that go against the incredibly important separation of church and state implicate in the first amendment. In my redesign, these are replaced with the text of the Bill of Rights. It has been proposed that these ten amendments are in order of importance, so it is fitting that the most important rights are included on the most common banknotes.

The $1 bill lasts only 21 months before it needs to be replaced. For this reason, I propose that the $1 banknote be eliminated in favor of the current $1 coin and a new $2 coin. For this reason, Washington is depicted on the $5. I also propose the discontinuation of the penny, because it currently costs more to produce one than it is worth. This is precedented by the elimination of the half-penny in 1857, after which the smallest unit of currency, the penny, had more buying power than today's quarter does.

Most of today's security features could easily be incorporated into this design, and the hologram (enhanced with a microprinted guilloché pattern) would be extremely difficult to reproduce.

Tyznik's Currency Page | Flickr Gallery | Snopes Article


  1. Those mock ups are absolutely astounding. I'd jump on those in a heartbeat.

  2. This looks amazing. I would love to see this be the new currency. I love how he put the sort-of braille on the paper. (I'm pretty sure it's not actual braille, but I could be wrong.) Nonetheless, it's a great idea that could help even people who aren't sight-impaired.

    It's an interesting idea of replacing the $1 with just the coin. I'm not sure if it's necessary, but I'm not opposed to it. How many times have you tried to use an old, ripped dollar bill to get something from a vending machine? Coins don't wear out nearly as fast. But then, I think we'd have to re-design most of the machines to accept the previously uncommon coins.

    As for the penny, I see no reason why we need it. People already (literally) throw thousands of pennies away in the trash every year. (I forget the actual number, but I remember it being a good amount of money.)

    The only thing odd I noticed was that he eliminated Alexander Hamilton (who was on the $10 bill) and replaced him with Jefferson, who was on the $2 bill. But then, Alex wasn't a President.

  3. Ya know, this is actually a very great idea. Sure, we might have to build new machines to accept the new currency, but won't that maybe call for a couple new jobs? The one dollar paper to coin idea is astounding! Coins last a significantly much longer time than paper currency does.. hell I'm pretty sure I have a penny from the 40's layin around the house somewhere. I'm all for this idea!

  4. Actually, most "new-ish" vending machines do take the current $1 coins. If his statistic of a dollar bill's life being less than two years is accurate; I'd say a switch to just coins is a good idea.

    When I first saw it, I had to stop and think about who was missing. As it is, with his concept, someone has to be dropped. We've currently kind-of dropped Jefferson, what-with the fact that we see almost no $2 bills today. I think Jefferson is more significant than Hamilton, so I think its a good swap.

  5. Oooh! That's a good angle. All the jobs this could create!!

  6. These bills are beautiful! What a great idea. I lived in Australia for a couple of years and they have a $1 and a $2 coin. They made a lot of sense over there. They also got rid of the penny around the time I was there. That seemed to work out quite well too.
    And of course getting rid of the reference to god is a fantastic idea.
    I wish this could actually happen. But I'm not holding my breath.

  7. $1 and $2 coins is a great idea, like they use in Europe. I used to work for an Australian couple and one thing I found out that was interesting about their money is that the bills are different sizes to assist the sight-impaired in figuring out what kind of bill they're holding. I've seen this money redesign before-it's beautiful and would be awesome to see, but I can't imagine the public outcry if they took God off of the money.

  8. But Hamilton *started* federal banking! He was the first Secretary of the Treasury under G. Washington and he is responsible for the founding of the First Bank of the United States. Not that I don't love Jefferson, and I know AH's policies were rather heavy handed and much more federalist than states rights, still he's important in a *money* kind of way, so it seems fitting for him to be on the currency.

  9. This is an excellent idea (I sense a repeat performance in ATAT Sunday School!) If people are serious about this, the thing to do is organize. Create a blog petition widget so that other atheists/secularists can post it in the side banners of their blogs, and have the digital signatures all collect somewhere central. Or even just getting out an html badge that goes to a petition site. I'd definitely advertise something like this.

    One note on the brail - it sounds cool, but money wears out quickly and I'm sure those bumps would smoosh out over time. What other nations do for the visually impaired is change the dimensions for different denominations, or use different textured paper.

  10. Good point Angie. Tyznik does propose a $2 coin that needs a head on it. So with no redesign Hamilton could go there. Or with a little redesign Jefferson could get sent back to his two-dollardness.

  11. This post was featured on this week's Angie the Anti-Theist Sunday School. You're shameless, you know that? Making it every week, making me like all biased and stuff. Tsk, tsk.

  12. Very nice try, and definitely better than the current currency, but the bills are still all the same size = Fail.

  13. By the same "size = Fail" comment, I'm assuming you're referring to use by the blind. If so, he addressed that with the raised dots (not sure they are actually braille). As Angie pointed out above though, if they weren't designed right, they would probably wear-out and rub off easily.

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