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What would the trillion dollar coin look like?

The California state quarter issued in 2005, and designed by Garrett Burke.

Garrett Burke showing off his Quarterama business card at Marketplace studios. Click for bigger image.

Image of Quarterama: Ideas and Designs of America's State Quarters
Author: Garrett Burke
Publisher: Sunbelt Publications (2011)
Binding: Hardcover, pages

There’s been a lot of talk this month about the idea of a trillion dollar coin.  The idea is that the Treasury Department would make a $1 trillion dollar coin and deposit it at the Federal Reserve.  This would give the U.S enough money to pay off the mountain of debt the country is in.  But -- putting aside the fact that it's not really going to happen -- what would a new trillion dollar coin even look like? Who would be on it?

Coin designer Garrett Burke, who designed the 2005 John-Muir Yosemite California State Quarter gave his thoughts on how the coin would look.

“There’s no one person of the American government that I could say could represent it.  There is only one person I could say that could represent it, and that person is Charles Ponzi,” said Burke. “Or you could drill a hole in it, and that could be the hole that all the money is falling.”

Does the design of the coin even matter?

If a trillion dollar coin were to be minted, would it even matter how it looked as long it fixed America’s debt problem?  Burke said that design always matters and that coins are an important part of our national identity.

“Right inside the word coin is the word icon. A coin is a symbol. If you pick out any pocket change you have some representation of our daily life as citizens of the united states. The design of the coin, what it says, the mottos they really matter,” said Burke.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Garrett Burke showing off his Quarterama business card at Marketplace studios. Click for bigger image.

Image of Quarterama: Ideas and Designs of America's State Quarters
Author: Garrett Burke
Publisher: Sunbelt Publications (2011)
Binding: Hardcover, pages

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