United States twenty-dollar bill
|Weight||Approx. 1 g|
|Paper type||75% cotton
|Years of printing||1861-present|
The United States twenty-dollar bill ($20) is a denomination of U.S. currency. The seventh U.S. President (1829–37), Andrew Jackson has been featured on the front side of the bill since 1928, which is why the twenty-dollar bill is often called a "Jackson," while the White House is featured on the reverse side.
The twenty-dollar bill in the past was referred to as a "double-sawbuck" because it is twice the value of a ten-dollar bill, which was nicknamed a "sawbuck" due to the resemblance the Roman numeral for ten (X) bears to the legs of a sawbuck, although this usage had largely fallen out of favor by the 1980s. The twenty-dollar gold coin was known as a "double eagle". Rather than a nickname, this nomenclature was specified by an act of Congress.
As of December 2012, the average circulation life of a $20 bill is 7.7 years before it is replaced due to wear. Approximately 11% of all notes printed in 2009 were $20 bills. Twenty-dollar bills are delivered by Federal Reserve Banks in violet straps.
Pre-Federal Reserve history
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2008)|
- 1861: A demand note with Lady Liberty holding a sword and shield on the front, and an abstract design on the back. The back is printed green.
- 1862: A note that is very similar, the first $20 United States note. The back is different, with several small variations extant.
- 1863: A gold certificate $20 note with an Eagle vignette on the face. The reverse has a $20 gold coin and various abstract elements. The back is orange.
- 1865: A national bank note with "The Battle of Lexington" and of "Pocahontas" in black, and a green border.
- 1869: A new United States note design with Alexander Hamilton on the left side of the front and Victory holding a shield and sword. The back design is green.
- 1875: As above, except with a different reverse.
- 1878: A silver certificate $20 note with a portrait of Stephen Decatur on the right side of the face. The back design is black.
- 1882: A new gold certificate with a portrait of James Garfield on the right of the face. The back is orange and features an eagle.
- 1882: A new national bank note. The front is similar, but the back is different and printed in brown.
- 1886: A new silver certificate $20 note with Daniel Manning on the center of the face.
- 1890: A treasury (coin) note with John Marshall on the left of the face. Two different backs exist: both with abstract designs.
- 1902: A new national bank note. The front design features Hugh McCulloch, and the back has a vignette of an allegorical America.
- 1905: A new gold certificate $20 note with George Washington on the center of the face. The back design is orange.
Federal Reserve history
Jackson first appeared on the $20 bill in 1928. Although it coincides with the 100th anniversary of Jackson's election as president, it is not clear the reason the bill was switched from Grover Cleveland to Andrew Jackson. According to the U.S. Treasury, "Treasury Department records do not reveal the reason that portraits of these particular statesmen were chosen in preference to those of other persons of equal importance and prominence."
The placement of Jackson on the $20 bill may be a historical irony; as president, he vehemently opposed both the National Bank and paper money and made the goal of his administration the destruction of the National Bank. In his farewell address to the nation, he cautioned the public about paper money.
- 1914: Began as a large-sized note with a portrait of Grover Cleveland on the face, and, on the back, a steam locomotive and an automobile approaching from the left, and a steamship approaching from the right.
- 1918: A federal reserve bank note with Grover Cleveland on the front, and a back design similar to the 1914 Federal Reserve Note.
- 1928: Switched to a small-sized note with a portrait of Andrew Jackson on the face and the south view of the White House on the reverse. The banknote is redeemable in gold or silver (at the bearer's discretion) at any Federal Reserve Bank.
- 1934: The obligation is changed. The bill is no longer redeemable in gold, but rather in "lawful money". This is due to the U.S. being taken off of the gold standard. "Lawful Money" in this case means silver.
- 1942: A special emergency series, with brown serial numbers and "HAWAII" overprinted on both the front and the back, is issued. These notes are designed to circulate on the islands, and be deemed invalid in the event of a Japanese invasion.
- 1948: The White House picture was updated to reflect renovations to the building itself, including the addition of the Truman Balcony, as well as the passage of time. Most notably, the trees are larger.
- 1950: Design elements like the serial numbers are reduced in size and moved around subtly, presumably for aesthetic reasons.
- 1963: "Redeemable in Lawful Money" is replaced by "In God We Trust". The two acts (one taking U.S. currency off silver backing, and the other authorizing the national motto) are coincidental, even if their combined result is implemented in one redesign. Also, several design elements are rearranged, less perceptibly than the change in 1950, mostly to make room for the slightly rearranged obligations.
- 1969: The new treasury seal appears on all denominations, including the $20.
- 1977: A new type of serial-number press results in a slightly different font. The old presses are gradually retired, and old-style serial numbers appear as late as 1981 for this denomination.
- 1990: Anti-counterfeiting features are added: microprinting around the portrait, and a plastic strip embedded in the paper.
- September 24, 1998: Received a completely new appearance to further deter counterfeiting; the picture of the White House was changed to the north side view. A larger, off-center portrait of Jackson was used on front, and several anti-counterfeiting features were added, including color-shifting ink, microprinting, and a watermark. The plastic strip now reads "USA 20" and glows green under a black light.
- October 9, 2003: The current series of 20 dollar bills is released with light background shading in green and yellow, and no oval around Andrew Jackson's portrait (background images of eagles, etc. were also added to the front); the back is the same view of the White House, but without the oval around it. Ninety faint "20"s are scattered on the back in yellow as a "EURion constellation" to prevent photocopying. The first issue's series date is 2004 with Marin-Snow signatures.
Proposal for a woman's photo
In a campaign called "Women on 20s", selected voters were asked to choose 3 of 15 female candidates to have a photo on the $20 bill. The goal was to have a woman on the $20 bill by 2020, the centennial of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. As of April 8, 2015, the four leading candidates were Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Wilma Mankiller. On May 11, 2015, Tubman was announced as the winning candidate.
- Twenty Bucks, a 1993 movie that follows the travels of a $20 bill.
- Feldman, David (1990). Who Put the Butter in Butterfly?. New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. pp. 119–120. ISBN 0-06-091661-3.
- An Act to authorize the Coinage of Gold Dollars and Double Eagles, ch. 109, 9 Stat. 397, enacted March 3, 1849.
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