Few symbols of nationhood are more woven into daily life than coins and currency. People notice when changes are made. Hence the murmurs over the new bills. Somehow the familiar faces seem a but more stylized, and the flip sides too plain - not quite like "real" money.
But those qualms will pass, as the new money becomes as circulated and crinkled as the old.
Another innovation heading toward our pockets and purses may not blend so easily into daily commerce. That's the new dollar coin. Remember the old silver dollars? Those handsome, big coins seemed really worth a dollar.
Their most recent successor, the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, didn't have that weightiness. No reflection on Ms. Anthony, whose career marked a milestone in the social history of the land. The coin itself simply looked and felt too much like a quarter. So why bother?
Well, the mint is trying again - spurred on, no doubt, by the needs of the vending industry (and, we suspect, casinos). The new design, unveiled with some pomp last week, features Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who helped guide Lewis and Clark on their continent-spanning journey. She's another worthy choice, a hero in her own right, and a tribute to native Americans generally.
This dollar coin will also be quarterish in size. But it'll look different, with smooth edges and a gold color. That may be just enough to make Sacagawea a numismatic success.