The Washington Post

Tim Geithner’s dollar-bill dilemma

(Bayne Stanley/The Canadian Press)

Amid the symbols and seals (and owls and spiders, if you believe some particularly fanciful observers) gracing the dollar bill, there’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s John Hancock. The secretary’s signature appears on the right side of bill faces, below the Treasury seal — and not just on the $1 bills, but on all denominations printed since he’s been at the helm.

True to the mysterious nature of bills, there’s more to the signature than you might think — or at least, more thought went into it than typically goes into a name jotted on a piece of paper.

In an interview yesterday with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Geithner said he had to alter his typically un-readable scrawl to make it worthy of the nation’s currency.

He admitted that he has “a completely illegible scrawl that did not seem suitable for the dollar bill. So I had to change it so people could see my name.”

We searched far and wide for an example of Geithner’s illegible penmanship, but the examples of his handwriting we found were on official correspondence — letters to Congress and the like — on which Geithner apparently either used an auto-pen or was as careful as he was on the dollar.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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