William T. Gibbs

Bill’s Corner

William T. Gibbs

William was appointed the managing editor effective May 1, 2015. He joined the Coin World editorial staff in 1976 as an assistant editor for "Collectors' Clearinghouse" and later became a senior staff writer before being appointed news editor. As managing editor, he manages the day-to-day editorial operations for Coin World, both print and online, and leads the editorial staff. He also serves as chief copy editor for all Coin World publications, including for all books published by Coin World since 1985. He has been project editor of mulitple editions of the Coin World Almanac. Bill began collecting coins at the age of 10 and soon discovered Coin World. As a teen interested in numismatics and journalism, he identified a writing position on the staff of Coin World as a dream job, which was realized shortly after he graduated from Bowling Green State University with a major in journalism. He collects store cards and medals depicting Adm. George Dewey of Spanish-American War fame.

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Fit for a King; amendment threatened our coins and notes

If Rep. Steve King were, say, king of the United States instead of the Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Iowa, the federal government would have lost the authority to (1) continue enhancing U.S. paper money’s anti-counterfeiting technology, (2) comply with a 2008 court order making Federal Reserve notes accessible to the blind, and (3) depict a black woman and other minorities on the $20 bill.

King recently proposed an amendment to H.R. 5485, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, a routine bill that would authorize the Treasury Department’s funding. King’s amendment was intended to modify the following passage in the legislation:
“Sec. 119. None of the funds appropriated in this Act or otherwise available to the Department of the Treasury or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing may be used to redesign the $1 Federal Reserve note.”

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The text of Section 119 is nothing more than a piece of boilerplate meant to ensure that the government does not spend any money on a redesign of the $1 Federal Reserve note. The language is unnecessary. Officials of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing have long said that they have no intentions of redesigning the $1 or $2 bills. The costs of upgrading their security would likely exceed any financial benefits from making either denomination harder to counterfeit. And let’s face it — counterfeiters tend to produce higher denomination fakes to get more bang for their bogus bucks.
King’s amendment, however, would have gone much further and would have threatened the security and appearance of all of the nation’s currency, coins and paper money alike. Here is how Section 119 would be modified to read under King’s proposal (emphasis added):
“None of the funds appropriated in this Act or otherwise available to the Department of the Treasury or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing may be used to redesign the [sic] any Federal Reserve note or coin.”
What? Why?
Here’s Politco’s reporting on King’s explanation, given the evening of June 21: “It’s not about Harriet Tubman, it’s about keeping the picture on the $20,” King said Tuesday evening, pulling a $20 bill from his pocket and pointing at President Andrew Jackson. “Y’know? Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative, I like to keep what we have.” 
Indeed, King has called plans to displace Jackson's portrait with one of Tubman's both "racist" and "sexist." However, many commenting via social media at various news sites saw King's attempt to maintain the status quo as "racist" and "sexist."
King had a lot more to say on the changes Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced for $5, $10, and $20 notes, but we won’t go into that here. You can find additional coverage online.
When Coin World learned of the amendment from an article in The Huffington Post, we immediately recognized the broader dangers of the measure. We contacted King’s office but never received a response. We asked specifically, in part, why Rep. King introduced the amendment — at that point he had not spoken publicly about his reasoning — and whether his office intended a generic change prohibiting coinage and paper money redesign to derail existing programs to upgrade the $10 bill with both better anti-counterfeiting technology and enhancements that will enable the blind and visually impaired to use the notes with confidence. I suspect King’s office, in its zeal to deny Tubman a spot on the $20 note, either did not think about broader ramifications or simply did not care.
However, the House Rules Committee on June 21 kept the amendment from moving to the House floor. Whatever one’s opinion is on depicting Tubman on federal currency, I think everyone can agree that continuing to combat counterfeiting and helping the visually impaired use our notes are both good things. 
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Older Comments (4)
I am in agreement with King - I don't want our money to become another political tool to shove agendas down our throat.

William Gibbs seems to be decidedly in the "We must push political agendas camp". I am tired of his attitude on this and will not be renewing my subscription as long as he is editor.
Until the mid-20th century coin and bill designs changed relatively frequently. It speaks volumes that Rep. King is so concerned with defending a status quo that never existed he would even prevent making our currency more resistant to counterfeiting.

When the first multicolor notes were introduced 13 years ago the Treasury said we should expect new designs every decade or so. Furthermore there's been an extensive comment period which resulted in many modifications to the original proposals. Nobody's "forcing the designs down everyone's throats" - a sexually-charged phrase that, interestingly, seems to be used almost exclusively by far-right opponents of anything different.
I note that the Obama regime's efforts to turn our currency into politicized Third-World-style funny money won't take effect until 2020. So, if a competent administration takes over next year, could it stop those misguided efforts?

And thank you for reminding us about the "accessible to the blind" nonsense. I'd forgotten about the millions of dollars wasted because some overbearing judges decided that a tiny minority needed to be catered to.

We can agree that adding additional anti-counterfeiting measures is a good thing.
I suggest an alternative amendment: "No United States money shall carry the portrait of a person who was a slave owner during his or her lifetime'" That would remove Andrew Jackson's portrait and a few others.