Paper Money

A woman will be put on the $10 bill, U.S. Treasury announces

Face and back of a Series 2013 $10 Federal Reserve note. The $10 FRN currently stars Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first secretary of the Treasury, among his many accomplishments.

On June 17 the U.S. Treasury Department announced that there would be a redesign of the $10 bill which would feature a woman as an important part of the design. By the next morning there was already such a torrent of speculation that it was impossible to keep the facts straight. Among the reports appearing in various media within twelve hours were that:

  • The new note would feature both the present subject, Alexander Hamilton and a woman whose identity was to be determined.
  • A woman would be the sole new face of the $10
  • A woman would be on a separate series of bills and that Hamilton would remain on another series of notes.

This much is known for sure based on information provided by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP):

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew decided that the new $10 note should feature a woman who was a champion for our inclusive democracy. The note is scheduled to be introduced in 2020, in time to mark the centennial of the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. In a new twist, the secretary is asking for the public’s views to help guide the design process, not just the BEP.

RELATED: Here's what people are saying about putting a woman on the $10 bill

Over the summer, Secretary Lew, Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, Treasurer Rosie Rios, and others will be conducting roundtables, town halls, and other meetings to gather opinion. The Treasury will review the comments coming in to the website it has set up as well as on Facebook and Twitter for which it has set up a #TheNew10 hashtag.

Although the Women on 20s campaign decided on the abolitionist and suffragist Harriet Tubman as its candidate, Lew's mind is open. He has decided, however that with Democracy as the theme for the new series, he “will select a woman recognized by the public . . . The person should be iconic and have made a significant contribution to — or impact on — protecting the freedoms on which our nation was founded.” Perhaps this is a bit of clue as to the direction of his leanings.

RELATED: U.S. is 'behind the times' and should put a woman on paper money, Women In Numismatics president says

It is a fairly well-established fact that the Treasury Department is somewhat resistant to radical and dramatic change in currency. This can be seen in the slow evolution of the design of the higher denomination notes – always maintaining some recognizable relationship to their predecessors. Assuming, therefore, that Hamilton's portrait might remain an integral part of the note, where would the woman's portrait be? It could be on the reverse. Perhaps it would appear as part of a double portrait. Or knowing that one of the most important concerns with currency redesign is staying ahead of counterfeiting by using an array of security features, would the woman (or Hamilton instead?) be a part of that – as a watermark or perhaps as part of a color-shifting image? At least part of the answer should be known by the end of the year.

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