The twenty-dollar bill in the past was referred to as a "double-sawbuck" because it is twice the value of a ten-dollar bill, which was nicknamed a "sawbuck" due to the resemblance the Roman numeral for ten (X) bears to the legs of a sawbuck, although this usage had largely fallen out of favor by the 1980s. The twenty-dollar gold coin was known as a "double eagle". Rather than a nickname, this nomenclature was specified by an act of Congress dated March 3, 1849.[specify]
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing says the average circulation life of a $20 bill is 25 months (2 years) before it is replaced due to wear. Approximately 11% of all notes printed in 2009 were $20 bills. Twenty-dollar bills are delivered by Federal Reserve Banks in violet straps.
The security strip in a twenty-dollar bill glows green under a blacklight.
Jackson first appeared on the $20 bill in 1928. It is not clear the reason the bill was switched from Grover Cleveland to Andrew Jackson. According to the U.S. Treasury, "Treasury Department records do not reveal the reason that portraits of these particular statesmen were chosen in preference to those of other persons of equal importance and prominence."
The placement of Jackson on the $20 bill may be a historical irony; as president, he vehemently opposed both the National Bank and paper money and made the goal of his administration the destruction of the National Bank. In his farewell address to the nation, he cautioned the public about paper money.
1934: The obligation is changed. The bill is no longer redeemable in gold, but rather in "lawful money". This is due to the U.S. being taken off of the gold standard. "Lawful Money" in this case means silver.
1942: A special emergency series, with brown serial numbers and "HAWAII" overprinted on both the front and the back, is issued. These notes are designed to circulate on the islands, and be deemed invalid in the event of a Japanese invasion.
1948: The White House picture was updated to reflect renovations to the building itself, including the addition of the Truman Balcony, as well as the passage of time. Most notably, the trees are larger.
1950: Design elements like the serial numbers are reduced in size and moved around subtly, presumably for aesthetic reasons.
1963: "Redeemable in Lawful Money" is replaced by "In God We Trust". The two acts (one taking U.S. currency off silver backing, and the other authorizing the national motto) are coincidental, even if their combined result is implemented in one redesign. Also, several design elements are rearranged, less perceptibly than the change in 1950, mostly to make room for the slightly rearranged obligations.
1969: The new treasury seal appears on all denominations, including the $20.
1977: A new type of serial-number press results in a slightly different font. The old presses are gradually retired, and old-style serial numbers appear as late as 1981 for this denomination.
1990: Anti-counterfeiting features are added: microprinting around the portrait, and a plastic strip embedded in the paper.
September 24, 1998: Received a completely new appearance to further deter counterfeiting; the picture of the White House was changed to the north side view. A larger, off-center portrait of Jackson was used on front, and several anti-counterfeiting features were added, including color-shifting ink, microprinting, and a watermark. The plastic strip now reads "USA 20" and glows green under a black light.
October 9, 2003: The current series of 20 dollar bills is released with light background shading in green and yellow, and no oval around Andrew Jackson's portrait (background images of eagles, etc. were also added to the front); the back is the same view of the White House, but without the oval around it. Ninety faint "20"s are scattered on the back in yellow as a "EURion constellation" to prevent photocopying. The first issue's series date is 2004 with Marin-Snow signatures.
Because of Jackson's actions toward the Native Americans as a general, as well as during his Presidency, the suitability of his depiction on a Federal Reserve Note has been questioned. Howard Zinn, for instance, identifies Jackson as a leading "exterminator of Indians," and notes how the public commemoration of Jackson obscures this part of American history. Additionally, some libertarians opposed to Central Banking, such as Ron Paul, point out the contradiction of having Andrew Jackson, who spent much of his Presidency fighting against the Bank of the United States, depicted on a Reserve Note.
Twenty Bucks, a 1993 movie that follows the travels of a $20 bill.
^Feldman, David (1990). Who Put the Butter in Butterfly?. New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. pp. 119–120. ISBN0-06-091661-3.