Thursday, March 6, 2003

U.S. currency gets a new signature: John W. Snow

By Jeannine Aversa
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - With cameras whirring and clicking, a smiling Treasury Secretary John Snow signed his name with flair, relishing one of the perks of the job: signing his name on the nation's greenbacks.

Snow and United States Treasurer Rosario Marin provided their signatures to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing at a ceremony Wednesday. Those signatures, after being transferred by engravers to steel plates, will be printed on all new U.S. currency.

Roughly 8 billion notes are made each year.

"What a great treat to be able to be here," Snow said.

"Doesn't every American boy grow up wanting to have his name on the currency?" Snow quickly added that it is probably the dream of every girl, too. The room erupted in laughter.

The new notes carrying Snow's John Hancock are expected to begin rolling off the presses this summer, starting with $1 bills, said Tom Ferguson, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Snow's signature will replace that of Paul O'Neill, who was fired by President Bush in December.

Snow, the former top executive of railroad giant CSX Corp., came to his new job in early February. The signature of Marin, who has been treasurer since the summer of 2001, is already on the bills and is just being updated.

Snow signed his name John W. Snow. The "W" stands for William.

Marin joked that Snow "couldn't sleep" Tuesday night in anticipation of the ceremony.

Snow will make history with the debut of the next generation of U.S. currency, which will feature color. The first revamped bill - the $20 - will be unveiled March 27 and go into circulation later in the year.

The $20 - along with the $50 and the $100 bills - are getting makeovers as part of an effort to thwart high-tech counterfeiters.

Snow used the signing ceremony to make a pitch for the president's tax-cut package. Swift congressional passage "will ensure that more of these notes stay in the pockets of the American family," Snow said.

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