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ICONS ARE BETTER #23: ONE DOLLAR BILL

Bones, Bucks, Chedda and Clams…whatever you call it, the American Greenback is one of the most recognised icons from arguably anywhere in the world. And I mean ANYWHERE.

First issued in 1863 as a Legal Tender Note, the one-dollar bill featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln. Poor Chase’s fame didn’t last long however, as he was replaced by the familiar George Washington 5 years later.

Since then, the One has had many iterations, but Washington’s burst has stood the test of time, and sits alongside other easily recognisable images including the ‘Great Seal of the United States’, the word ONE and the ‘unfinished pyramid of 13 steps’ topped by the ‘eye of providence’.

And that’s what I love about it. The American dollar bill is an icon made up of lots of smaller icons. And I’m not sure many, if any, other icons can rival that.

Still not convinced? Consider then that in 2012 a White House committee met to consider replacing the iconic note with a coin. They claimed that switching to dollar coins would save $4.4 billion over thirty years. Opinion polls however have shown that America’s love for the Buck is so strong, that the current government remains loathed to replace it.

And so despite the Single being a less practical and more expensive option for the government and taxpayers alike, the One lives on in all its hope and glory. Immortalized in songs by some of the world’s most rich and famous, and treasured, under mattresses by some of the poorest.

If that’s not the ultimate icon test, then I’m not sure what is.

Nicole Kirkland – Planning Director at mcgarrybowen.

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