Slideshow July/August 2009

Currency Exchange

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

United States / 5 Dollars, 2007

All this decoration, though, has somehow never gotten enough ahead of counterfeiters, so our currency has been redesigned to incorporate new features like microprinting, colors, watermarks, and security threads. The more-is-more design aesthetic also had the effect of making all the different denominations look even more alike, especially for people with vision problems. So enter the big purple numbers that now appear in the corners: a solution as inelegant and clumsy as a denim patch on a satin dress.

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