Will proposed $10 note be rejected like Anthony, Sacagawea dollars?: Guest Commentary

The decision to put a woman on a Federal Reserve note is long overdue and laudable, but she should be on the $20 note
By , Coin World
Published : 09/07/15
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From the Sept. 21, 2015, issue of Coin World:

Everyone has now heard about Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s announcement that a redesign of the $10 bill will feature a woman’s face. This summer the public has had an opportunity to express a choice of who will be the first woman on our paper money since Martha Washington appeared on the face of the 1886 $1 silver certificate.

Many, including former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, castigated Lew and, by inference, the Obama administration, for this decision. Opponents insist the change be made to the $20 bill, supplanting a less popular Andrew Jackson with a woman’s face. Having a woman’s face on the $20 bill to be released in 2020 is the goal of women’s groups — the so-called “20-20” proposal commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women suffrage.

The sawbuck since 1929 bears the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, who is credited with establishing the nation’s Treasury and was its first secretary. The $20 Federal Reserve note, however, was recently redesigned and, Lew pointed out, it is now the $10 bill’s turn. 

None of the criticisms addressed the possibility that, once released in 2020, this new $10 bill may become a monetary “flop” — it being rejected by the public as were the two $1 coins with images of women.

Those with short memories may have forgotten the nation shunned use of the first two circulating coins with the image of a nonfictitious woman on the obverse. The first, the Anthony dollar, ran for only two years starting with 1979 and for a single year in 1999. The other was the Sacagawea dollar, aka “the golden dollar,” having been minted from 1999. Both coins were released with much fanfare and the enthusiastic support of women’s groups, which had lobbied for creation of the coins.

The Anthony and Sacagawea dollar coins have been avoided by the public as if they are toxic to handle. 

At the onset, people hated the Anthony dollar, often confusing it with the quarter dollar. Both are almost the same size, have reeded edges and the same copper-nickel clad alloy composition. 

The Sacagawea dollar’s gold-like alloy had production problems and the coin was just plain ugly.

A lesser theory held both Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea were not well-known personages for the general public to warm up to. Would there then be a curse on women appearing on our money? 

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