Tubman Twenties (DIY)
May 30th, 2019 – Harriet Tubman and 3D printing aren’t words you normally hear in the same sentence, but a New York-based designer is bringing that conversation to life. Dano Wall has created a 3D-printed stamp of the abolitionist hero that will allow people to superimpose Tubman’s face over President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
Wall made the stamp back in 2017 when the Trump administration began to balk on making the currency change. The Obama-era decision to place Tubman on the front (relegating slave owner Jackson to the back) came after thousands of people submitted her name. The previous administration wanted the new bill to come out in 2020 — coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving voting rights to women.
Current Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced last Wednesday that, due to counterfeit issues, the Tubman twenty will be delayed until at least 2028. The news brought renewed attention to Wall’s Etsy store where he has sold over 600 stamps.
“My goal when I started making Tubman stamps was to get 5,000 made and into people’s hands, as this seemed at the start like a goal of sufficient ambition as to put it almost out of reach, but not quite,” he said. “I now have over 6,000 people who’ve signed up to be notified when more stamps go into stock, so I will likely eventually pass that goal.”
Wall said that his intent was to “disrupt the pattern” of white men who have long dominated dollars in our country.
“By putting her on the most popular note currently in circulation, indicates exactly what kind of a life we choose to celebrate; what values we, as a country, most hope to emulate,” he told The Washington Post. “Harriet Tubman’s unparalleled grit, intelligence, and bravery over the course of her long life certainly make her worthy of such an honor.”
President Trump doesn’t seem to think the Underground Railroad activist is worthy of the honor. When the possibility of swapping out Jackson for Tubman initially came up, he called the move “pure political correctness.” He added that Jackson, whose life is tied to the Trail of Tears, had a “great history.”
Wall’s website, tubmanstamp.com, shares video of the stamp-making process, the Jackson override, and the new Tubman bill being used at multiple vending machines. During the sold-out period, spenders are able to follow instructions on printing their own stamp, and they can even go to “stamping stations” in New York for assistance in swapping out the two figures.
And for those worried that stamping your hard-earned money may land you in trouble, Wall assures people that it’s a legal act. Speaking with Joy Reid, he said that anti-counterfeiting laws only prohibit markings that would destroy or change the amount as well as stamping any products or advertisements.
The disruptive designer added that he’s been exclusively using Tubman twenties since developing the stamp. While oftentimes people don’t notice the change, he has had several moments where the new face has sparked conversation.
“I think it’s a great entry point into talking about representation,” he said.