New US Five Dollar Bill

smarks's picture

There have been a several comments about the design of the new US five-dollar bill. In particular, they've criticized the large Helvetica "5" on the back.

They're right. This would have been much better:

Yuk, yuk, yuk. OK, easy target.

blank's picture

I really don’t think it matters what anybody does, America’s money is going to keep looking like crap. Sort of like our passports. Good taste and the US Government are just sort of antithetical.

paul d hunt's picture

too bad american money IS crap, not just the paper it's printed on either... :^(

the govt should do something like the UK mint did: http://www.typographer.org/2008/04/new-uk-coin-designs.html

*edit*
ah, those H&FJ guys thought the same thing!

i cant delete my username's picture

Aren't pennies costing two cents to make right now? That's pretty bad too.

I personally would rather see Party LET instead of Comic Sans.

pattyfab's picture

Sigh... we used to have the best looking money in the world. Next to our original designs, foreign currencies tended to look like play money.

I was pretty upset when I got my new $5 altho am benumbed by previous redesigns as well.

I am also rather amused by the attempts to make life easier for the visually impaired. For example in my subway station there is a tiny little plaque with some braille on it, on one of many many columns on the platform. First of all, by the time you've made it into the station, thru the turnstile and onto the platform, the plaque is pretty useless, innit? Second of all, if you are blind, how in creation are you going to even find this silly little plaque on a random column. But I'm sure it's complying with some law, somewhere.

blank's picture

Aren’t pennies costing two cents to make right now? That’s pretty bad too.

And we can’t even outsource the labor because our money is worth so much less everywhere else…

dezcom's picture

We could just give up on the worthless penny and stop at the nickel? The other option is to end the use of cash and have a totally electronic system. The street-corner musicians would hate that, as well as the guys in New York who try to sell knock-off Rollex watches out of a briefcase on the streets :-)

ChrisL

kegler's picture

Dwiggins' 1932 "Towards a Reform of the Paper Currency" is always worth a read on this topic and should be required reading for anyone having anything to do with currency design. The essay is sarcastic, hilarious (at times rather un-PC), but he makes some great points in addressing the problem "It is not possible to discuss the designs [for the paper currency] without heat. They infuriate you because you cannot get at them. They are beyond the reach of criticism. They are safe—as an idiot is safe anywhere, in any community, savage or civilized. They are made immune by hideous deformity. . ."

My attempts at reprinting the book were stalled with dead-ends in securing rights, but I thought an image of the cover might be appreciated:

Miss Tiffany's picture

If we stopped at the nickel that would give all people the right to round up.

Our money totally depresses me. I agree with Patty that our currency used to be good. But I have to say I loved the Dutch banknotes designed by R.D.E. Oxenaar.

pattyfab's picture

We could just give up on the worthless penny and stop at the nickel?

Nickels cost 10 cents to make.

If we stopped at the nickel that would give all people the right to round up.

This ends up happening anyway - people store pennies in jars, leave them lying on the street, etc.

There was an interesting article on this in the New Yorker a few weeks back:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/03/31/080331fa_fact_owen

pattyfab's picture

Friends of mine in Munich designed their own currency, see here:

http://www.transnationalrepublic.org/centralbank/payola/

They used a real currency press.

BruceS63's picture

Paul, those are some good looking coins. Thanks for sharing the link.

Zara Evens's picture

I am completely unimpressed by all the new US notes. Hideous. Most of them look as if they have been dropped in puddles of mud, and the ten looks as though it has dried blood all over it. What I really don't understand, are those little yellow bits on the back -- looks to me like a swarm of bees descending upon our dear capitol buildings.

dezcom's picture

ALL of that stuff has to do with anti-counterfeiting measures taken by the Bureau of Engraving. If any of you get to Washington or if they ever do a TypeCon here, take the tour of the Bureau and get the tidbits of info.

ChrisL

Joe Pemberton's picture

A quote from this thread has been ripped from its context and Twitter'd here: http://twitter.com/typophile

Carry on.

dezcom's picture

Would someone explain what "Twitter" is all about? I went to their site but I don't get it.

ChrisL

blank's picture

Would someone explain what “Twitter” is all about? I went to their site but I don’t get it.

Remember how people nobody needed to know about used to constantly blog about every aspect of their lives? Now they do it by constantly sending text messages to the twitter servers, so that everyone can know every detail of everyone else’s daily life as it happens, instead of waiting for it to get blogged every three hours. Then they all post comments about it on Facebook or Myspace or whatever…

dezcom's picture

ChrisL

jupiterboy's picture

I am doing a bit of cleaning up and happened upon an older Avante Garde magazine that hat a dollar bill redesign contest where various artists expressed themselves. Funny how we have the same issues now.

Always loved the cover of Funkadelic's America Eats Its Young as well.

http://www.inkblotmagazine.com/rev-archive/funkadelic.htm

Joe Pemberton's picture

Twitter is a microblog. Polls show that if people had to give up a web log or their Twitter, they would give up their blog. It's a bit like instant messaging in a non-linear format that people don't have to respond to.

The best (faked? you tell me) corporate Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/WaMuWhooHoo

pattyfab's picture

I don't get twitter either. So it's just sound bites that don't seem to link to the actual pages themselves? What's the use of that?

jupiterboy's picture

I'd rather listen to a bird.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I think Twitter is a great way to share bits of things you come across as the day progresses. Granted I've almost totally given up on chat and twitter because they are both distractions.

AGL's picture

"Aren’t pennies costing two cents to make right now? That’s pretty bad too."

It will raise up after the Smart Monkey is gone...

Miss Tiffany's picture

It will raise up after the Smart Monkey is gone...

That is our hope anyway.

dan_reynolds's picture

It will raise up after the Smart Monkey is gone...

No, it will not. The damage is already done, and I suspect it will take years for it to repair. I don't think we've hit bottom yet, either.

i cant delete my username's picture

I'm just going to convert to a better designed, and more valuable currency:

blank's picture

I don’t get twitter either. So it’s just sound bites that don’t seem to link to the actual pages themselves? What’s the use of that?

Well, it keeps the Web 2.0 bubble going a little longer.

Polls show that if people had to give up a web log or their Twitter, they would give up their blog.

Maybe so, but I’m pretty sure a more useful poll would show that most people can’t really find any use for most of Web 2.0. Anyway, right now I’d much rather just give up the internet and sit under the cherry trees filing away at metal punches.

smarks's picture

I liked the currency from the game of "Life" with portraits fake people with names like Ransom A. Treasure and G. I. Luvmoney and Art Linkletter (oops he was real!). That currency was clearly more valuable -- it went up to $100,000!

Zara Evens's picture

So it’s just sound bites that don’t seem to link to the actual pages themselves? What’s the use of that?

Micro-blogging isn't meant to link to anything.

Maybe so, but I’m pretty sure a more useful poll would show that most people can’t really find any use for most of Web 2.0.

I would put money on a user poll that suggests exactly the opposite of that statement. The web has never been more useful than it is now.

jacobh's picture

Zara, the yellow dots are the EURion Constellation which feature on almost every bank note in current circulation. The idea is that when a colour photocopier senses 5 small yellow circles arranged in a pattern similar to the Orion Constellation, it will refuse to copy.

Interestingly, although they have been around for a while, no country has officially admitted their existence and so they have only recently been discovered. There is also some currency detection software built into more recent scanners and imaging software which is still not understood.

-Jacob

Zara Evens's picture

I understand *why* the yellow is there, I am familiar with the the security features of the bills, I was referring to the poor choice of visual design. I have not seen those yellow dots on older bills.

jacobh's picture

Zara:

Apologies! I have only recently come across the EURion constellation and still find it interesting that such a thing exists and apparently existed on many bank notes for at least six years before detection. I expect the colour was chosen by which ever of the central European banks first came up with the idea as it does not stand out so much on the old DM and Franc notes (which I think were the first to use it). The most interesting concealment must, however, be on the old £20 British note.

-Jacob

Zara Evens's picture

Jacob - no need to apologize :) Thanks for the info!

smarks's picture

There is also some currency detection software built into more recent scanners and imaging software which is still not understood.

It certainly is effective... when I mocked up the image that started this thread, Photoshop CS2 popped up a rather startling warning dialog. It let me do the edits and save, but apparently printing had been disabled. (I didn't try.)

AGL's picture

I guess a better epithet is required to illustrate the longitude and wheight
of so infamous personages (not those in the links):

Emperor Palpatine &
Lord Vader

Yes, it will take sometime for a recovery, and it will require a Hero or Heroine!
to fix it.

Reality surpass fiction.

jupiterboy's picture

Holding Out for a Hero must be huge in Zimbabwe.

rs_donsata's picture

Well, with all due respect you have some ugly money.

Héctor

dezcom's picture

"Well, with all due respect you have some ugly money"

LOL!!! That is OK, Héctor, I have some even uglier bills to pay with that money so maybe it suits the task :-)

ChrisL

rs_donsata's picture

Ok, maybe someone at some place needs to take a look a this: http://www.cnbc.com/id/23826876

LOL Chris, money has always been an ugly issue.

Héctor

guifa's picture

We played around with the print blocking in PS at my lab one day just to seehow strict it was. All you have to do is type some text and make it transparent (spaces for instance IIRC also worked) and it would consider that sufficient

«El futuro es una línea tan fina que apenas nos damos cuenta de pintarla nosotros mismos». (La Luz Oscura, por Javier Guerrero)

AGL's picture

A lo mejor a Usted le gustaría leer este artículo. Puede que ya lo conozca, y así es, puede encontrar a otros que le interese a Usted.

http://www.typotheque.com/articles/falta_de_diseno_exceso_de_diseno_y_vo...

"Disfruta mientras puedes" - Anónimo

Don McCahill's picture

If it costs 2c to make a penny, and 10c to make a nickel, someone is ripping you off. There isn't that much more metal in the nickel, and the process is essential the same.

In Canada they have just started talking about getting rid of the penny (the govenment, I have been saying it for 20 years). Here we have $1 and $2 coins in circulation, not bills, so one's pocket is weighed down by all the coins. That is why Canadians appear to walk on an angle. Not to mention the problem with US based cash registers with only four or five coin slots.

Inflation has devalued the dollar to at least 1/10th of its 1950s value. So why not get rid of both the penny and the nickel. Price things with one decimal point after the dollar. And don't worry that prices will only round up. You know that something now priced at $19.99 is going to go to $19.9, not $20.0. Within a year prices will average out, due to competition.

Electric Imagination's picture

Do we really care what currency looks like? Pretty soon it will all currency will be electronic through thumb prints and/or retinal scans.

If that does not happen, I would prefer the US to keep the currency green and plain. It's only money :-)

i cant delete my username's picture

Isn't the point of being a designer to care about how things look both aesthetically and functionally? It's the face of our economic system, and a cultural icon. So yes, we do really care, or at least you SHOULD care.

AGL's picture

@ Don McCahill
"If it costs 2c to make a penny, and 10c to make a nickel, someone is ripping you off."

It may sound crazy, but the fact that the currency has to be devided, you have to have pennies and dimes.
That penny or dime will then move from hand to hand for some number of years, thus covering its cost.

jayyy's picture

so what do all you guys make of the relatively new EURO notes?

rectangular's picture

I didn't see anyone actually post the image of the real dollar bill:

http://www.moneyfactory.gov/newmoney/images/features/thumbnails/lowvision_5.jpg

Yikes. Very interesting. I haven't gotten one of these bills yet… But i really can't figure out the advantage to it, or how it would stop forgeries…

i cant delete my username's picture

But i really can’t figure out the advantage to it, or how it would stop forgeries...

That same site you listed says a lot:
http://www.moneyfactory.gov/newmoney/main.cfm/currency/new5

It says the giant Helvetica 5 is for people with poor vision. I wonder if there's any way to imitate braille on paper (that would stand wear and tear). Some of the high contrast numbers with ball serifs could get a little difficult to read, I suppose, depending on vision. I guess Gotham, or the likes were still too newfangled for them.

Katharina's picture

Actually on the German currency there were Braille numbers, slightly elevated so you could feel them. Unfortunately this feature was given up with the Euro.

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