Friday, April 26, 2013

Mo' Money, Mo' Problems

Attention, Mr. and Mrs. America! Meet your brand spankin' new one hundred dollar bill! Not that the majority of us should concern ourselves; unless you're Mr. Drysdale or the leader of a drug cartel you'll likely never see one. But hey, at least we know they're out there!

The new bill is slated to premiere in October, 2013, a full three years after the original due date. Seriously? It took three freakin' years to come up with this thing? 

Cheezus, has there ever been a more obvious case of Design By Committee? I can practically hear the different factions now, sitting in the conference room and shouting out the items they thought essential:
"It's got to have a minimum of four "100s" on it or we simply can't approve it," said the Commission For Obtrusive Placement. 
"If you don't add a large foil inkwell with a ghostly quill hovering above it then we might as well all go home now," shouted the Council Of Unnecessary Technology. 
"Don't forget the thick, intrusive security strip," shrieked the Excessive Security Measures Panel. "And don't try to subtly weave it into the linen this time, make it as obvious and garish as you possibly can."
"And for god's sake print the portrait of Franklin in two different ink tones, and be sure to give him a pale, ghastly pallor!" screeched the Bureau Of Historical Desecration.
I get that with the advent of cheap color printing that counterfeiting is rampant, but do we really need all these anti-theft measures? The 3D security ribbon, the color shifting ink, watermarks, raised printing on Franklin's portrait... Jesus, just make it so it self-destructs if it gets within twenty feet of a copier and be done with it.

Credit where credits' s due though: the back of our new one hundred dollar bill isn't too awfully bad. It's dull of course, but at least it's clean and simple and I like the splash of color the large gold "100" at the right side provides. I just wish I could say the same for the front.

I've never understood why American money has always looked so bland, sterile and utilitarian. Hey government, it is possible to have nice looking money you know. Other countries do it all the time.

Take Austrailian money, for example. It's quite splendidly designed. Just look at that fiver! Gorgeous colors, clean crisp layout and just enough elements without looking too busy. And to top it off they used a portrait of 'er Majesty from her "Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie" phase.

China's RMB, or "the People's Currency" as they call it, is also quite attractive. This 100 rmb note is worth about $6 American dollars and is the one you'll see the most if you ever travel there. Best of all it comes in bright, festive red, just like Chaiman Mao's political views and his little book.

Filipino money is also quite handsome. So colorful. So balanced. So... self confident. Look at that money! It's almost oozing confidence. The slightly raised eyebrow, the subtle smirk of the lips. Why, it's practically smug!

Thai money is also quite nicely designed. They've even included white space, the hallmark of all good graphic design. 

Plus their bills have the added advantage of featuring Gary Burghoff as Thai Radar O'Reilly, silently judging you on the front. "Do you really need that new flatscreen TV?" Thai Radar asks accusingly as you reexamine your priorities. "No, I thought not," his piercing eyes seem to say as you put your wallet back in your pocket.

I just don't get why we can't have nice things like other countries.

Of course given America's love of corporate sponsorship, I'm confident that something like this will be the next upgrade to our currency...


  1. You said "quite splendidly designed." I won't tease you about it right now, but I'll keep it in my memory banks. Someday in the future I may need to put you in your place.

    Haw haw!

  2. I was trying to sound British. Splendidly British.

  3. splendidly designed maybe, but that's not a British £5 note. Its an Australian 5 dollar bill. The queen's on the note because she's their head of state

    The British fiver is a pale-ish blue colour

  4. Dangit, charliew, you're right. I actually knew that, really I did, but in my rush to get the post up I fumbled and said English instead. I'll fix it.


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