George Washington (1732-1799) has appeared on the U.S. one-dollar bill since 1869. The joke “Time was when Washington’s face was on all of our money; now it’s Washington’s (the federal government in Washington, DC) hands” has been cited since 1950, attributed to The Re-Saw. In 1957, the joke was credited to Arthur W. A. Cowan, a Philadelphia attorney and friend of playwright Lillian Hellman. The joke appeared in newspaper “Today’s Chuckle” columns in 1969.
The “Washington’s face/Washington’s hands” money joke has been told infrequently in the 2000s—when people use credit cards and checks and use less physical money.
Wikipedia: United States one-dollar bill
The United States one-dollar bill ($1) is the most common denomination of US currency. The first president, George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart, is currently featured on the obverse, while the Great Seal of the United States is featured on the reverse. The one-dollar bill has the oldest design of all U.S. currency currently being produced. The obverse seen today debuted in 1963 when the $1 bill first became a Federal Reserve Note.
The inclusion of “In God We Trust” on all currency was required by law in 1955. The national motto first appeared on paper money in 1957.
Obverse of current $1 bill
The portrait of George Washington is displayed in the center of the obverse of the one-dollar bill, as it has been since the 1869 design. The oval containing George Washington is propped up by bunches of Bay Laurel leaves.
14 October 1950, Springfield (MA) Union, pg. 1, col. 3:
Time was when Washington’s face was on all of our money. Now it’s Washington’s hands.
Google News Archive
16 December 1957, Lexington (NC) Dispatch, “Boyle Find Opening Mail Is Educational” by Hal Boyle, pg. 4, col. 7:
That Arthur W. A. Cowan asks, “Remember whn it was only Washington’s face that was on our money? Now it’s Washington’s hands as well.”
9 April 1961, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, pg. 52, col. 7 classified ad:
In the old days only Washington’s face was on our money. Now we notice Washington’s hands are on it too!
(Billie Loomis Smith Personnel—ed.)
20,000 Quips & Quotes
By Evan Esar
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Books
Once upon a time only Washington’s face was on our money; now Washington’s hands are on it too.
Google News Archive
25 March 1969, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, pg. 1 (masthead):
Remember when it was only Washington’s face that was on our money? Now Washington’s hands are on it too.
26 April 1969, Chicago (IL) Tribune, pg. W10:
Remember when it was only Washington’s face that was on our money? Now Washington’s hands are on it, too.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Wednesday, December 29, 2010 • Permalink