Slideshow July/August 2009

Currency Exchange

Michael Bierut analyzes the world’s best and worst banknote designs

United States / 1 Dollar, 1935

The back side of the dollar bill assumed its current design during the Great Depression. Here we have all the elements that fascinate conspiracy theorists, from the broken pyramid with its all-seeing eye to the curiously constructed Latin inscriptions. (Annuit Coeptis literally means “It favors the things having been begun,” but is usually translated as “He [God] has favored our undertakings.”) The effect is a cake that has been decorated to within an inch of its life.

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