The Back of the New $20


twenty dollar note
Have you seen the new "Series 2004 $20 Notes"? The ones they're advertising on T.V.? The U.S. Treasury has rolled out yet another revamp of the U.S. twenty dollar bill in an effort to stop those pesky counterfeiters once and for all. It features high-tech fake-busting elements like a watermark, a security thread, and color-shifting ink. It also features crappy design.

I'm not going to concern myself here with a critique of the front of the bill (my friend Jeff Veen says "it looks like something got spilled on it."). It's the back of the note that's driving me crazy.

In particular, it's all those little 20s haphazardly sprinkled in the white space. They are nails-on-a-chalkboard to my visual design senses.

Are they supposed to be another security feature? ("They'll NEVER be able to duplicate this $20... look at those 20s... they're all OVER the place!") Did they let a summer intern at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing design it? ("Hey, let Jimmy try it!") Were they concerned the $20 bill might be confused with a $10? ("What this 20 needs is a LOT more 20s.")

There must be more to it. My theory: the new 20s contain subliminal connect-the-dots messages, like tiny constellations. So, perhaps it is an economic stimulus strategy:

Spend More

Or just another way to boost patriotism:

We're No.1

Of course, George W. could have had his hand in it:

Bush 2004

I'm not sure I've successfully cracked the code, so I'm asking for your help. I encourage you all to get a new $20 bill, connect the dots to find the message on the back (pencil is best), and mail it to me for review (11 S. Angell Street #215, Providence, RI 02906). Together, we can get to the bottom of this.