rococo lads took their franchise away from
them. Spinach is the thing a new advertiser
of a product that can't be bought direct by
the public wants in the border of his first
institutional advertisement. Spinach is the
thing that makes people think that worthless
shares of stock are just as good as sound
shares of stock. Spinach is the Mardi Gras
costume of formality; it is, in short, only the
normal exudation of bad taste.
There is a good peck of late-clambering
spinach on our new currency.
There is plaster-work, bronze-work, pastry-
gun-work, imitation tortoise-shell, wood-carv
ing, wire-bending, lacework, air-brusheryin
ribbons, diapers, volutes, garlands, borders,
shields, brackets, pedestals, frames, back
grounds. The admirable engraving of Wash
ington peers out of the middle of this splatter
of old party-favors like a man coming up for
air after a long hunt in an attic. That the
portrait can retain its ancient, steady calm in
the bombardment is all the more tribute to
its own excellence; that the majesty of the
words "The United States of America"
can continue majestic in this mid-Victorian
type-dress is a tribute rather to the power of
the words than to any sympathetic typography
in their acute rendering.
In size it is convenient.
As money, of course, the new bill is urgent
beyond reproach. As self-protected currency,
it is presumptively more proof against coun
terfeit than any previous issue, for the people
in Washington who do those things have a
fine record. As the most single medium of
hand-to-hand advertising of a government to
(1) its own people and (2) other peoples, it
leaves much to be desired. As a piece of ad
vertising "copy," if you willfor any ar
rangement of picture and legend is "copy"-
it belongs in the eighteen-fifties. The subjects
of the pictures on the bills are dignified, in
spiring, appropriate for the most part; they
are the illustrations of the advertisements in
which the treasury department undertakes to
resell the national story to the people. The
very illustrations used could be well used.
The terse, urgent, inviting language on the
bills could be well and readably arranged.
Neither pictures nor text were so treated.
The gold coin with the big profile-eagle
on it, nowthat was good advertising. Is.
So is the buffalo nickel. It's American, and
it's good design. So should all our currency
be. So it can be. Did the treasury have a
lot of trouble with the sculptors who did the
coins, and thus decide to avoid the pitfall of
"temperament" and the vagaries of politics?
Was there no one in Washington to breathe
in the ear of the treasury the name of Updike,
Marchbanks, Goudy, Cleland, Dwiggins, Kent
(Henry, or Rockwell), Adler, or thirty others
who could have done in committee a satisfy
Probably there aren't any answers to these
questions. Probably it's just one of those
things that nobody gives a whoop about.
But we know one user of currency who had
been led (by the treasury's elaborate advance
campaign to prepare us for the lovely new
bills) to believe that the new "Ford" was
going to be a handsome car. And that user
feels as though Ford had put out a Model A
with a cracker-box body trimmed with crepe-
paper and link-sausage. (Of course Mr. Ford
himself did nothing of the sort with his
actual car; he made good on his promises
that it would be good-looking.) But to con
tinue the analogy, that user must travel; he
will use the car; he must deal in currency,
and he will use the new bills, thanking God
for the favor of their smaller dimension, and
encouraging Him to provide plenty. But he
will feel pretty darned irked that his govern
ment muffed one so completely.