Many people were excited about the faces of iconic historical women being added to U.S. dollar bills in the coming years, specifically Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill in 2020.
Harriet Tubman was set to replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill this year, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. When the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced it would be postponed (until at least 2026), however, this Brooklyn woman took matters into her own hands.
Dena Cooper is a Brooklyn-based fashion illustrator who wanted to use her art for activism. Earlier this year, she decided to design special artwork of Harriet Tubman and then have it 3D printed into a stamp. She started stamping her own $20 bills and has been sending them to friends and followers after they Venmo her.
“Harriet Tubman not only smuggled countless slaves into safety using the underground railroad, she was a union spy in the Civil War, and a women’s rights advocate who helped win women’s suffrage in 1920, of which the redesigned $20 bill would be a 100 year anniversary,” she stated via her Instagram page. “She is a national treasure and absolutely deserves the honor of her portrait printed on the face of our currency, not only as a woman, but as an advocate for the disenfranchised.”
According to an interview with the Brooklyn Eagle, Cooper believes that about 350 of the Harriet bills are in circulation around New York and the surrounding areas.
Though there doesn’t seem to be a very clear-cut answer, the stamping shouldn’t interfere with usability of the money. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note…with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.” Still, organizations have stamped money bills before and it doesn’t seem to be an issue, as long its “genuineness and denomination [can] be readily ascertained.”
So, if you receive a Harriet Tubman $20 bill and wonder how it was possible, now you know!
featured image source: Instagram / @denacooperillustration