US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for June 27, 2022: Change is here

President Joe Biden on June 21 announced the appointment of Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba, lifetime chief of the Mohegan tribe, to serve as treasurer of the United States.

Image from appointee’s Facebook page.

Two news articles appearing this week show how much the demographics of the people in government is changing — Ventris Gibson has been confirmed as director of the United States Mint, the first Black person in the office, and Marilynn Malerba has been appointed as treasurer of the United States, the first Native American in that office. They join the nation’s first woman Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, in directing key elements of the nation’s coinage and paper money production.

A physical (and collectible) manifestation of Malerba’s appointment will be the eventual production of Federal Reserve notes bearing the signatures of President Biden’s appointees to the offices of Treasury secretary and U.S. treasurer. These future notes (Series 2022, maybe?) will be the first to bear the signatures of two women, something that would have seemed impossible in the 1860s when the federal paper money was issued, all bearing the signatures of Treasury officials.

One aspect of the two new appointments is not new. The offices of Mint director and treasurer have long included both men and women. Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first female Mint director, serving from 1933 to 1953; her 20 years in the office eclipses that of everyone else in the position. In 1949, Georgia Neese Clark became the first woman treasurer; since her appointment, all serving in that office have been women, many of them Black or Latino (for years, most of the appointees to the post were Latinas).

Both the Mint and the BEP were early advocates of women on the payrolls. Both agencies hired women to lower-level positions on staff in various support departments.

Of course, their gender does not mean that Gibson and Malerba will get a free ride in the execution of their duties. We hope that their respective offices will correct some of the problems collectors have identified in the past — too many Mint products, offerings that are (or are perceived as) geared toward big dealers rather than small collectors, a paucity of BEP collector products.

There will be critics of the appointments and the symbolism they share, of course. But that is true of any political appointee.

We look forward to seeing what they accomplish.
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