This article was inspired by a thread at the PCGS Currency Forums, “Soon, Series 2013, now with pictures” – click here.
The Fifty-Seventh Inaugural Ceremonies have come to a close, and now it’s back to business. Mr. Obama will be nominating a few new faces to his cabinet, including Jacob “Jack” Lew, for Treasury Secretary. Timothy Geithner, the current Treasury Secretary, will be leaving the cabinet for other ventures. A New York Times blog takes a look at his complex legacy and history with Treasury – here.
Policy implications aside, most paper money enthusiasts are eager to know how the prospective Treasury Secretary’s signature will appear on United States Currency. First, let’s meet Mr. Lew face to face. It’s only gentlemanly, of course, before we prattle about his John Hancock.
Mr. Lew was President Obama’s budget manager in the previous Presidential term. Now, he’s just a confirmation hearing away from signing NEW notes!
So what does his current signature look like?
What the %&$# ? Does Mr. Lew sign documents on a Titlt-A-Whirl? That’s a little Yankee Doodle for a government official, eh? Did Lew write prescriptions in a past life? Politico also questioned Mr. Lew’s hand-eye coordination – click here.
Kidding aside, if that’s his authentic signature, that’s what the engravers will have to put on the plates. There is some precedent for asking Treasury Secretaries to “try again” on their signatures, including outgoing Secretary Timothy Geithner. Here is Geithner’s signature prior to getting scolded by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, from a New York Times article about him prior to taking office:
That’s kinda nutty, too, and not unlike Mr. Lew in his preference for circular penmanship styles. Later, Geithner’s signature was engraved on Series 2009 notes as:
Wow! That’s quite a change. Some think Geithner’s modified chicken scratch is boring, bland, and most likely not even his own handwriting 🙂 . Others think it is institutional in appearance and appropriate, not to detract from the new design features of the latest Federal Reserve Notes being printed at B.E.P.
Geithner’s signature appears on the famously flawed Series of 2009 $100 bill that has YET to circulate as of the date of this article, January 22, 2013. Mum’s the word at Treasury as to when the new $100 will hit the streets. They are in the process of sorting through 1.1 billion creased error notes, which is no small task. Engineers and government officials have been shacked up inside the Fort Worth Printing facility for over a year trying to get the notes up to spec.
Back to Louie Lew – not a Kingmen song from the 1960s – if the B.E.P. was uptight about Geithner’s scribble-scrabble, they’re probably not going to be too tolerant Lew’s authentic signature, either. Our guess is he’ll have to rehearse several different styles before an acceptable rendition of his name is determined.
Imagine visiting the USA from the Far East, withdrawing your first Series 2013 $20 bills at JFK airport. After a 15 hour flight, screaming babies, and a measly bag of peanuts, you’ll naturally question the seriousness of the United States when its money bears the mark of someone trying to remain anonymous while attempting to close a bar tab stone drunk.
Joking aside, if and when Mr. Lew is officially the next Secretary of the Treasury, we welcome him and wish him the best of luck. Of all the problems facing the nation, his unique signature is the least of our worries. In the meantime, we’ll sit tight waiting for the first notes bearing his namesake to get into general circulation, in hopes of grabbing some rarities with remarkable etchings from very patient engravers.
Will “Loopy Lew” star notes eventually become one of the hobby’s most sought after rarities? Stick around, you’ll find out soon enough!