Paper Money

Monday Morning Brief for March 11, 2019

One visionary is seeking the introduction of a $3 Federal Reserve note depicting Togo, a hero dog, despite running up against tradition and bureaucracy.

Original images courtesy of Thomas Cikalo.

You have to admire someone who has a pet cause and does everything he can to achieve that goal, even if he is something of a Don Quixote running up against tradition and bureaucracy.

Consider the author of this week’s Guest Commentary.

Thomas Cikalo and I have had regular phone conversations for months, as he sought my advice and opinion on his goal to persuade the government to issue not only a $3 Federal Reserve note but one depicting a hero dog.

Inside Coin World 1866 Shield 5-cent coinInside Coin World: The two 1866 5-cent coins with different alloys: Two different 1866 5-cent coins and Arkansas paper money that was redeemable in bacon, among other things, are among the subjects of columns in the March 25 Coin World.

In the earliest days of federal paper money, there was some planning for a $3 United States or legal tender note. The Series 1862 $1 and $2 notes have on their faces three numerals in the center, one on top of the other — 1, 2 and 3. On the $1 note the 1 is highlighted, and on the $2 issue, the 2 is more prominently displayed. The inclusion of a 3 suggests that a $3 note was under consideration, but none was ever issued. Proofs are known for a $3 United States note of a different design, but planning never went further.

Years later, the Series 1901 $10 United States note had a central vignette of a plains bison, with that note being one of the most prominent issues to feature an animal as its most prominent design element.

Cikalo seeks something of a merger between the two concepts — a $3 note and an animal design. The big difference is that the 1901 note features a bison as a metaphor for the vanishing West, while Cikalo’s proposal seeks to honor a specific animal for his specific service to humanity.

Cikalo, emboldened by the early success of the Women on 20s movement to have a prominent woman depicted on the $20 note, wants to duplicate that success. He even commissioned the artist’s rendering of the note shown at his own expense.

I think it unlikely that a $3 note will ever be issued. But it takes a visionary or two to achieve a goal in the face of opposition. The State quarter dollars program is an example of that. So was the Women on 20s movement, though its success now seems in doubt. Thomas Cikalo certainly has a vision that he really wants to achieve.

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