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The Geithner Interviews

Timothy Geithner’s signature not fit for print

Megan Larson Apr 26, 2012
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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's signature before and after. He had to change his autograph to appear on U.S. currency.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

You’ve probably got a dollar or two in your pocket with Timothy Geithner’s signature on it. But the Treasury Secretary’s John Hancock wasn’t always, shall we say, legible. He had to change his autograph from this Timothy Geithner's original signature to this Timothy Geithner's new signature when his signature was added to the storied list of those featured on our nation’s currency.

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal squeezed this curious detail out of Geithner during his exclusive interview Thursday afternoon in San Francisco, which airs Friday on Marketplace.

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.

Ryssdal: Really?

Geithner: I didn’t try for elegance. I tried for clarity.

Ryssdal: ‘Cause you know Mrs. Quiggly, my 1st grade teacher, she would have given me the big F on that one.

Geithner: Well, I took handwriting in the third grade in New Delhi, India, so I probably did not get the best instruction on handwriting.

Some might say both versions are better than that of some of the past signatures featured on U.S. Currency, as seen here.


Learn more about Geithner and listen to our full interview with the Treasury Secretary here.

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