Paper Money

Monday Morning Brief for Nov. 27, 2023: A long road

Printing of the next $10 Federal Reserve note is expected to begin in 2025, with release set in 2026.

Original images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Nearly hidden in the Federal Reserve’s order for paper money for 2024 was a brief notation that production of the next generation of $10 Federal Reserve note will begin in 2025, with release set to begin in 2026.

What a long, tortuous journey it has been.

The beginning of the journey to the new $10 note can be traced to 2002, when the American Council for the Blind filed suit against the government, alleging that U.S. paper money discriminates against the blind and visually impaired since there is no way to distinguish one denomination from another by touch. The government objected, saying redesigning U.S. paper money to include some sort of tactile device identifying the denomination would be too expensive.

The government lost the case, including at the appeals level in 2008. As ordered, the government began exploring suitable devices on the $10 note, which was already on the schedule to be redesigned with better anti-counterfeiting technology.

Then a new entity, Women on 20s, entered the arena in 2015 with a very public movement to replace Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the $20 note. The group conducted a public survey, seeking votes to select a woman to replace Jackson. The winner of the survey was noted abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

Jacob Lew, Treasury secretary at the time, voiced support for the general concept but said the $10 denomination, which needed design updates most, for security purposes, would be the likely place for any anticipated change and that replacing Jackson was not being considered. Instead, Lew said that a Tubman portrait could replace that of Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury secretary.

Concurrent to this, however, was the wide acclaim being given to the play Hamilton on Broadway. Lew met with the cast and in April 2016, announced that Tubman would appear on the $20 note. The $10 note, he said, would still feature Hamilton and on the back, a scene of the famous March 1913 march on the Treasury building by women in support of women’s suffrage. The $10 note has long depicted the Treasury building.

Testing has led to the selection of a raised tactile feature applied in the new design by an intaglio printing process.

The public could see the new $10 notes in circulation in 2026, finally.

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