I finally got my hands on one of the redesigned five-dollar bills this afternoon (while buying tacos!) and man, what a mess. I understand that the Federal Reserve isn’t really in the business of design, and that their chief priority is to discourage counterfeiting, but they couldn’t have made an uglier bill if they had tried. The insanely out of place purple “5” is probably the most egregious misstep, as the Fed somehow tried to shoehorn Helvetica into a bill that is otherwise serif’d-to-the-max. Not to mention the cloud of yellow “05”s that dot the front and back of the bill, which appear to have been added by a retarded, blind child. All of our new currency has been laughable, but this just about takes the cake (previous cake-taker: Alabama’s Helen Keller Quarter.)
And at the other end of the currency-design spectrum, we have this redesign of Britain’s coinage:
Now THAT is awesome money. By modernizing the Shield of the Royal Arms, which has then been segmented among six denominations, the Royal Mint has developed a thoroughly contemporary design that is as artistically successful as it is utilitarian. No purple, no Helvetica, no blind-idiots running amok. Bravo, Brits.