Международный Совет Рериховских организаций имени С.Н. Рериха

International Council of the Roerich Organizations by name of S.N. Roerich

Nicholas Roerich was not the designer of one dollar bill

Open Letter to «Komsomolskya Pravda»

Series of articles by E.Chernykh about American dollar and causes of the world crisis appeared in Russian newspaper «Komsomolskya Pravda» in March 2009[1]. The author asserts that «secret symbols on American dollar were drawn by the artist — mystic Nicholas Roerich». The considerable part of all the three articles was wholly devoted to that strange hypothesis. However E.Chernykh gives no convincing proofs in his articles. Moreover the articles are full of evident errors in dates and events, which make his accusations of Nicholas Roerich unsound.

E.g.: «We have already written about the mystery of 1$ bill of 1928 which was designed by Russian artist Nicholas Roerich on the assignment of the future US Vice-President Wallace. Roerich placed the Great Seal of the United States on the left of the designed 1$ bill».

Design changes of 1$ bill described in «Komsomolskya Pravda» took place in 1935, not in 1928 as it had been stated by E.Chernykh. In addition N.K. Roerich was still in the Central-Asian expedition started in 1923. He was not acquainted with H.Wallace who at that time was just an editor of «Wallace’s Farmer» agricultural magazine.[2]

The basic change on 1$ bill of 1935 is the appearance of two –sided [3] Great Seal of the United States[4] on it. This seal in its present condition was ratified in 1782 soon after the USA had been founded[5]. The Treasury Department of the US official site reads: «The eye and pyramid on the reverse side of the 1$ bill have been copied from the Great Seal of the United States. For the first time the Seal was applied on the 1$ bill of the Federal Reserve System in 1935[6].

I sent a letter of inquiry to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing at the Treasury Department of the US and got a reply on March 20: «We can find nothing in our files to indicate that Nicholas Roerich was ever employed by, or did work for, the BEP.» Further they informed: «With the series 1935, the back design for Silver Certificates were changed to incorporate the Great Seal of the United States. Edward M. Weeks, supervisor of the BEP Engraving Division, was the designer. This design was also used for the backs of Federal Reserve Notes.»

In July 1935 US President F.Roosevelt received the first preliminary version of the new banknote from the Federal Reserve System Bureau. N.K.Roerich who was still in Manchu Expedition far from America (since April 1934) and by no means was not able to make the design of the mentioned banknote. Moreover there was no references to the design of 1$ bill.

Who happened to be the initiator of the new design of 1$ bill? The site of the State Department in the paper «Commemorating the Seal»[7] reads: «The US Government decided to place the Great Seal on the dollar bill»[8]. David Ovason’s book «The Secret Symbols of the Dollar Bill»[9] specified: «In 1935 Franklin D.Roosevelt ordered that a new dollar bill should be designed. He requested that this new design should be based on the symbolism of the Great Seal of America»[10]. In 1976 the State Department of the USA has published a book[11] about the history of the Great Seal. In this book there had been published the letters of H.A.Wallace – the Minister of Agriculture of the US in 1930-es which were written by him in 1951 and in 1955. H.A.Wallace recollected that the idea to use the Great Seal had come to him while reading the brochure about the history of the Great Seal. He addressed Roosevelt with the idea to add it on the coins and the President, approving this offer, insisted on using this symbolism on the 1 dollar bill instead of coins. The corresponding commission was given by Roosevelt to the Federal Reserve System Bureau.

Further E.Chernykh wrote: «Roerich enciphered the main secret in the centre of the bill. Above we see the bright inscription: «The United States of America». Below at first sight the pious phrase in Latin: «In God We Trust». The inscription «The United States of America» had already been in the design of the 1$ bill. The phrase «In God We Trust» was not at all in the design of 1935. This text appeared for the first time on the Silver certificate in 1957 and on dollar bills in 1963[12] when the Congress approved this phrase as an official motto of the USA in 1956.Besides this phrase is not in Latin but in English.

Thus we can say with confidence the N.K.Roerich was not related to the design of the 1 dollar bill. Numerous and irrefutable facts and documents point at H.Wallace and F.Roosevelt as the real initiators of the bill, and Edward M.Weeks as its designer.

One more ethical side of the question. Over several issues of the well-known newspaper the line – Roerich, dollar, economical crisis has been drawn. Who is interested to cast a shadow on the world-known artist and humanist N.K.Roerich? It is well-known fact that N.K.Roerich had a certain attitude to money as to no more than a forced necessity of the modern world. «You are quite right to be terrified that «dollar is a king». It is not even a king but a fierce tyrant and enslaver», N.K.Roerich wrote.

Should a journalist rely on accurate facts or on fantasies and unconfirmed rumours? It is especially important if the matter concerns the well-known worker of culture. Should a journalist study all the facts, source materials and recheck everything before writing something negative? After all even unintentional lie will cause irreparable damage being replicated in millions copies.

If your newspaper esteems the truth highly I ask to publish official refutation.

Igor Kokarev,

March 26, 2009


[1] Newspaper «Komsomolskya Pravda», Moscow, #32 (5.03.2009), #36 (12.03.2009), #40 (19.03.2009).

[2] http://senate.gov/artandhistory/art/artifact/Sculpture_22_00033.htm
[3] The Great Seal has two sides.

[4] The Great Seal of the United States.

[5] http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/27807.pdf
[6] http://www.treas.gov/education/faq/currency/portraits.shtml#q3 (Update: URL doesn’t work. See another web page below: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Currency/Pages/edu_faq_currency_portraits.aspx )

[7] http://diplomacy.state.gov/documents/organization/101217.pdf
[8] «The U.S. government decided to place the Great Seal on the dollar bill»

[9] David Ovason. «The Secret Symbols of the Dollar Bill», 2003, Page 13.

[10] «In 1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that a new dollar bill should be designed. He requested that this new design should be based on a symbolism of the Great Seal of America.»

[11] Richard S. Patterson and Richardson Dougall. The Eagle and the Shield: A History of the Great Seal of the United States. 1976.

[12] http://www.usmint.gov/about_the_mint/fun_facts/index.cfm?flash=no&action=fun_facts5