US Treasury Secretary makes loopy signature clearer

Jack Lew's signature, before and after
Image caption Mr Lew's loopy signature was derided by US commentators as "ridiculous", "insane" and "one of those crazy straws"

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who was mocked for his loopy signature, has offered a more legible version.

His new sign-off, on a recent Treasury report, showed an attempt to lay out the letters more clearly.

At Mr Lew's nomination in January, President Barack Obama had joked that at least one letter had to be readable "in order not to debase our currency".

One of the Treasury Secretary's functions involves signing new US dollar bills.

Mr Lew's signature, which made its debut on an annual report issued last month by the Treasury's Financial Stability Oversight Council, spelled out his first name, middle initial and surname. His previous signature featured eight loops.

When he was chosen for the Treasury post, Mr Obama had joked: "I had never noticed Jack's signature. And when this was highlighted yesterday in the press, I considered rescinding my offer to appoint him.

"Jack assured me that he is going to work to make at least one letter legible in order not to debase our currency," he added.

Mr Lew's loopy signature had divided opinion among Americans, with the New York Times suggesting he "clean up his penmanship" while a petition was launched calling for Mr Lew's signature to be protected.

Image caption Former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's signature on dollar bills was described as "chicken scratch"

'Chicken scratch'

The Treasury Secretary's signature is required on each currency note in order to make it legal tender.

But it is not unusual for Treasury secretaries to change their signatures which are featured on the lower right-hand side of each currency note.

Former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said he had to change his signature when he submitted it to the Treasury's Bureau of Printing and Engraving for printed bills.

When an interviewer asked him last year: "Is it true that... you changed [your signature] into that chicken scratch?" Mr Geithner replied: "Well, I think on the dollar bill I had to write something where people could read my name. That's the rationale."

It is not clear when new bills with Mr Lew's signature will be available.

After receiving signatures from the new secretary and the new treasurer, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving creates a series of bills with new serial numbers and suffix letters. A new plate has to be designed before printing the bills.

The Treasury Secretary is also responsible for the design of currency, including the portraits that appear on paper currency, according to the Bureau.

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