Relative Value : Dowling Duncan : Dollar ReDe$ign 2010


“Why the size? – We have kept the width the same as the existing dollars. However we have changed the size of the note so that the one dollar is shorter and the 100 dollar is the longest. When stacked on top of each other it is easy to see how much money you have. It also makes it easier for the visually impaired to distinguish between notes.


Why a vertical format? – When we researched how notes are used we realized people tend to handle and deal with money vertically rather than horizontally. You tend to hold a wallet or purse vertically when searching for notes. The majority of people hand over notes vertically when making purchases. All machines accept notes vertically. Therefore a vertical note makes more sense.


Why different colors? – It’s one of the strongest ways graphically to distinguish one note from another.


Why these designs? – We wanted a concept behind the imagery so that the image directly relates to the value of each note. We also wanted the notes to be educational, not only for those living in America but visitors as well. Each note uses a black and white image depicting a particular aspect of American history and culture. They are then overprinted with informational graphics or a pattern relating to that particular image.


$1 – The first African American president

$5 – The five biggest native American tribes

$10 – The bill of rights, the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution

$20 – 20th Century America

$50 – The 50 States of America

$100 – The first 100 days of President Franklin Roosevelt.

During this time he led the congress to pass more important legislations than most presidents pass in their entire term. This helped fight the economic crises at the time of the great depression. Ever since, every new president has been judged on how well they have done during the first 100 days of their term.”


Dowling Duncan is a graphic design studio with offices in San Francisco, CA, and Newark, England – you can view more of their work here


© Copyright 2010 The ‘Author’. All rights reserved. 
These designs are NOT legal tender. 
to learn how to submit your ideas.



17 thoughts on “Relative Value : Dowling Duncan : Dollar ReDe$ign 2010”

  1. $1 ??? The first African American president— based on the color of his skin, a racist reason. Base it on his achievements and knowledge and he wouldn’t even get a 1 cent coin.$5 ??? The five biggest native American tribes— based on race/ethnicity, aka racist reason, besides, which five would that be? I would say that Incas, Mayas and Aztects would win the first three slots anyway.$10 ??? The bill of rights, the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution— why only the first ten?$20 ??? 20th Century America— America is more than the 20th century.$50 ??? The 50 States of America$100 ??? The first 100 days of President Franklin Roosevelt.— Ouch. Just ouch. The man who made the financial crisis even worse? Fitting for money that looks like colorful toilet paper.That said, I never thought I’d see money uglier than the stillbirth called "Euro", but apparently, there it is.

  2. I’m intrigued by these designs. How much thought did you give to accessibility issues, particularly colorblindness? As someone whose work is required to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act on a daily basis, I could see the colored numerical indicators being extremely problematic. You should consider putting all essential type in black so that the colors don’t prevent someone with colorblindness from pulling out the wrong bill. Size shouldn’t be the only way someone with a disability can tell which bill they’re using.

  3. @UrsusAlpinusWell, I find it ironic that someone who sounds like a Glenn Beck nutjob would bring up racism as argumentative points. Yay for your subtle white supremacy. I’d love for you to validate how FDR’s policies didn’t work, on another note. Not with your random reasons or thoughts, but concrete, factual proof that it never worked.Finally, your idiocy is pretty much confirmed when you ask "why only the first ten". I can only assume that you don’t know what the Bill of Rights are, nor the meaning of the first ten amendments in terms of early American history.

  4. Love the designs, but you will inevitably run into politics. You’ve chosen two democratic Presidents. But it’s not enough to simply swap out one for a Republican. For example, if a Democrat is on the $100 and a Republican on the $1, then the Republicans will complain. It’s best to avoid this and use other themes. The founding fathers and Lincoln are safe though.My primary complaint is that you’re making the same mistake as the old version of Monopoly – the $10 and $100 are too close in color. Yellow versus Gold. Kudos for varying the length for the totally blind but you should consider the merely visually impaired too. In fact, since most people have already played monopoly why not use their color set?* White $1 (cheapest without color)* Pink/Red $5* ANYTHING OTHER THAN YELLOW! How about Violet?* Green $20* Blue $50* Gold/Orange $100Just a thought.

  5. @UrsusAlpinus, see the pattern? 1 on $1, 5 on $5, etc. The bill of rights is a fitting set of 10, and all presidents since FDR have been judged on the mythical 100 days, which is what the $100 is noting. And, you’d have to be pretty far right to believe that FDR did not ameliorate the Great Depression, if you’ve researched the facts.Since no living person may be depicted on currency, probably the first president would have been a better choice for $1.Varying the lengths and using a vertical format are both genius ideas.

  6. have a look at Indian currency- its got it all- different size, color, texture, blind-proof, illetrate-proff design for each denomination of bills, and is used by people of varying education, affluence, class/creed etc. A nice balance of differntiation, yet having the same family look…actually I was always surprised why would dollars not show the same thoughtfulness.One of the nice thing in the above design is incorporating differnt personalitities- Indian currency is same as dollars in this aspect they’ve Mahatma Gandhi only, and it is widely debated whether to put father of nation’s image on stuff that gets traded in all environments- some of them not entirely legal like bribes etc.Another note-worthy thing is the design in vertical format, I guess its pretty neat.Not so interesting thing is that the design looks too poster-ish- not rich enough to be a currency- but it may be my personal bias (and I do not like euro for the same reason) I do love euro coins – they are very niocely designed (better than some Indian coins)

  7. I’m sorry. That looks like Monopoly Money. American Money is supposed to look like American Money, not something vaguely European. If it ain’t wrong don’t fix it.

  8. Vedrtical Orientation seems to be the big thing this year, I dont think that Obama should be on there or FDR, but oh well. What do the reverse sides look like? are you just going to have one sided notes or what?

  9. I consider myself somewhat of an expert on currency design. My personal collection contains more than 300 unique notes from more than 80 issuing bodies. These are the worst of the bunch on so many levels.Countries with dictators or monarchs put their current leader on their currency… and being the first non-white elected is a hollow victory at that. Many countries have elected minorities, women and even immigrants to their nation’s highest office.Besides the poor choice of American "icons," these notes lack distinctiveness, security and artistic value. You should have just put the ten commandments on the $10 note and called it a day.Also, why the FDIC seal? The FDIC has nothing to do with currency. The FDIC insures deposits not monetary instruments.

  10. It’s just plain tacky to have a living person on a currency, MLK I can see.As the above poster said, only dictatorships and monarchies have living people on their notes. They all make nice posters but I honestly don’t see currency in the designs.

  11. Wow I can’t believe all these negative comments, I of course new Obama on anything would bring out the crazies, but lacking "artistic value" please. How does one even begin to define or judge artistic value. And just because many countries have elected minorities means nothing, aren’t we forgetting the long history of slavery and segregation in in this country? That’s why it’s a big deal moron (Trollad). But I do agree it’s a little much to put Obama on the 1$, perhaps if the plan was the 1$ would always have the current president on it. I don’t give a Sh*t what other countries do, were not a dictatorship, the President is chosen by the American people, so it’s not the same thing. And yes people it does look European, maybe Swiss, but another word for that is Beautiful-clear-Design. Guess what when it comes to design no one owns any one style, get over it.

  12. OK I know some, without knowing my race, will brand me as racist for saying this: Those Presidents who are on our currency notes are there because of the key roles they played in making our country great. Barack Obama has done nothing but make our country weak.

  13. NOTE to Holland Rhodes and others who refer to Obama as either "African American" or "non-white". Barack Obama is half white, a mulatto technically, not that I care but that is the fact of the matter. He is NOT "the first African American President", he is the first mulatto President. Yes, it’s an achievement I suppose but he’s no more the first "black" President than Bill Clinton was.

  14. tesseractor said: "And, you’d have to be pretty far right to believe that FDR did not ameliorate the Great Depression, if you’ve researched the facts."No, actually if you research the facts, Roosevelt and his policies made the depression deeper and longer and World War II ended it.Or, at least, so say experts:Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.After scrutinizing Roosevelt’s record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.—Thomas DiLorenzo, says "FDR???s New Deal made the Great Depression longer and deeper. It is a myth that Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘got us out of the Great Depression."—Henry Hazlitt and John T. Flynn (among others) knew in the 1930s: FDR’s New Deal made the Great Depression longer and deeper.—Both Obama and the Roosevelt administration enacted worse economic policies than their predecessors. By eliminating business and investment incentives they effectively caused the economic downturns to be deeper and longer than they otherwise might have been.

  15. Echo N Shane said:"I of course new Obama on anything would bring out the crazies"And some of us KNEW that if we posted legitimate arguments against Obama on currency (such as we don’t put living people on our currency) it would bring out the semi-literate crazies who are only capable of making ad hominem arguments against our positions!That’s it, I’m done, have at me.

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