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Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's signature revealed

Secretaries of the Treasury have had their signatures appear on U.S. currency since 1914.

UPDATED (June 18, 2013, 3:00 PM ET): Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew has now publicly provided his signature for printing on new currency and dollar bills. The first bill you may see it on will be a five-dollar bill note this fall.


President Obama nominated White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to be the next secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department. Among the broad powers given to that office, the Treasury Secretary gets to put his signature on dollar bills.

Unfortunately, Lew's signature isn't all that legible -- or particularly pretty. Which President Obama noted in his public appearance today: 

 "I had never noticed Jack's signature, and ... when this was highlighted yesterday in the press, I considered rescinding my offer to appoint him," Obama said. 

 The president added that he'd like Lew to work on his penmanship. 

"Jack assures me that he is going to work to make at least one letter legible in order not to debase our currency," the president said.

That would make him the second consecutive Treasury secretary to alter his signature for appearance's sake. Outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted to Marketplace, in an April 2012 interview, that he changed his signature before putting it into circulation.

Kai Ryssdal: I gotta ask you about your handwriting. Is it true that this used to be your signature Timothy Geithner's original signature and you changed it into that chicken scratch?

Timothy Geithner: Yes it is true.

Ryssdal: And why would you do that?

Geithner: You mean from this Timothy Geithner's original signature to that Timothy Geithner's new signature?

Ryssdal: Yeah.

Geithner: You mean you like this one Timothy Geithner's original signature? I thought you liked the one on the one dollar bill Timothy Geithner's new signature.

Ryssdal: No, that one Timothy Geithner's new signature is horrible. I like that one Timothy Geithner's original signature.

Geithner: Well, I think on the dollar bill I had to write something where people could read my name. That’s the rationale.

What about you? If you got to put your signature on the dollar bill, how would you want it to look?

Yahoo came up with one way to mimic Lew -- check out what your name would look like in his handwriting:

About the author

Ethan Lindsey is the senior digital editor for Marketplace.

Secretaries of the Treasury have had their signatures appear on U.S. currency since 1914.

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Lew's not a rock star, famous athlete, or movie star. These folks may sign hundreds of autographs. Unless he's signing each bill individually, I'd say it's fair to expect to be able to read his name. On the other hand, in 30 years or less the folks in charge won't be able to write cursive at all, so maybe it just doesn't matter.

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