Treasury secretary improves his penmanship for currency signature

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew’s signature
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew’s signature as director of the Office of Management and Budget (top) and his revised signature that will appear on U.S. paper currency.
(White House / Treasury Department)

WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has improved his penmanship, unveiling a less loopy version of his unusual signature that will be printed on U.S. paper currency.

Lew’s official signature, which is somewhat more legible than the one he used on memos as director of the Office of Management and Budget, will appear on new 2013 series bills, the Treasury Department said.

The signature will appear first on $5 bills to be printed this fall by the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

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The Treasury Department released an image of Lew’s new signature on Tuesday, along with a photo showing the secretary intently signing his name for the printing plates.

The signature of the Treasury secretary has appeared on paper currency since 1914. Also on the currency is the signature of the Treasurer of the United States, a largely ceremonial position now held by Rose Rios.

When word leaked in early January that President Obama planned to nominate Lew, then his White House chief of staff, the Internet began buzzing about his odd signature.

One person said it looked like “an unraveled Slinky.” Others called it “loopy” and just plain “goofy.” Yahoo News unveiled a widget called the Jack Lew Signature Generator, which showed people what their name would look like if Lew signed it.


Obama even joked about it when formally announcing the nomination, saying he considered changing his mind after he saw Lew’s signature.

“Jack assures me that he is going to work to make at least one letter legible in order not to debase our currency should he be confirmed as secretary of the Treasury,” Obama said.

Lew was confirmed by the Senate and apparently has been working on his John Hancock. In that way, he’s following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Timothy F. Geithner.

Geithner described his own signature as “a completely illegible scrawl” and improved the version that has appeared on U.S. bills.


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