American Artifacts: History of Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner's Office - Curator Richard Cote

each week American history TVs American

artifacts takes viewers

behind-the-scenes at archives museums

and historic sites here's a featured

extra from a recent program

welcome to the office of the secretary

of the Treasury this is Tim Geithner's

office and this became the office of the

secretary in 1910 and as we've seen the

office of the secretary has

progressively moved around the building

has the Treasury Building has become

modernized and in 1910 what happened was

a major renovation was done of the

Treasury Building and at that time new

systems were put into the building and

it was deemed that the corner office and

we're now at sort of a sort of the

corner of the building with a very nice

view of the Washington Monument the

Department of Commerce that this corner

office very well-lit office would become

the office of the secretary of the

Treasury the office is adorned and this

is our sort of portrait that I spoke of

before of Alexander Hamilton this was

done by Carolyn ransom she was hired by

Secretary Sherman to paint the likeness

of Hamilton the likeness of Hamilton was

then put into this very sort of

elaborate Colonial Revival frame and has

been in the office ever since 1910 the

office of the secretary unlike his

predecessors secretary chase and

secretary Johnson the current office of

the secretary is not a restored suite it

is a working office in the very sort of

modern conventional sense

in this particular case antiques have

been incorporated into the scheme of the

office has sort of as as furniture the

desk the present Secretary's desk is

from the treasure collection it's a

mahogany desk that dates to the 1920s

it has a desk lamp that dates to I

believe 1910 to 1920 a bronze lamp also

there's an earlier piece in the office

there's a desk that was used by a clerk

actual it's a clerk's desk in the

Treasury Building and that's once again

part of our collection of antiques that

have survived throughout the Treasury

Building in this particular case it was

a desk a standing desk so that an

accountant or whatever could essentially

do his work standing up artwork in the

office is provided by the National

Gallery of Art and there's a very

specific sort of connection with the

National Gallery and that is the fact

that one of our secretaries Andrew

Mellon a very long serving secretary

founded the National Gallery of Art and

as part of his founding of the National

Gallery of Art the secretary of the

Treasury along with Secretary of say

State sits on the board of the National

Gallery of Art and if you go into the

very large rotunda the marble rotunda of

the National Gallery the West Wing

you'll see inscribed in stone on the

marble wall the names of the secretaries

of the Treasury following their

illustrious precedent predecessor Andrew

Mellon in that tradition part of the

office is the collection of flags you

have the American flag you have the

Treasury flag and the Treasury

Department's like other older

departments does have its own sort of

flag Department of Treasury flag and

there's also an interesting flag in

executive offices senior executive

offices and that is the flag of rank and

a flag of rank for the Treasury


and we have seen this before we've saw

it on the mantle in the Andrew Johnson

suite incorporates as part of its design

anchors and a shield from the Coast

Guard we have to remember that the Coast

Guard was part of the Treasury

Department until 1965 and before 1965

the flag of rank were the office of the

secretary was adopted from the Coast

Guard flag and implanted on the Coast

Guard sort of anchor if you will is the

shield which we've seen now many times

throughout the building of the Treasury

Department scales of measure of Justice

the stars of the 13 colonies in the key

we're not going to go into the

Secretary's small conference room the

secretary has a as part of the suite the

suite concept has a small meeting room

at his service and that's a small

conference room I am now walking into

the space that is a secretary small

conference room and once again we have a

suite of offices that frame or encompass

the secretary's office one of which is

his small conference room and this since

1910 this room has been used as a space

for the secretary to have meetings but

also to dine and it's furnished in that

particular sort of method or mode we

have a American sideboard from the early

19th century a New England piece

probably New Hampshire first decade of

the 19th century along with a period

appropriate table and chairs the walls

in this particular suite are embellished

with these huge they're very large

frames of currency from

Caribbean printing and we have in the

Treasury building a significant number

of these frames they were made for fairs

and expositions and the Bureau of

Engraving and printing would print their

sort of currency this is a currency that

represents the period the United States

notes 1874 75 78 to show the artistry

essentially of the Bureau of Engraving

and printing there engravers the Bureau

of Engraving and printing prints

obviously money but they also engrave

decorative elements including the

secretary of the Treasury and president

the United States their portraits this

particular frame is surrounded by the

various seals of the United States and

also the sort of various bills of the

particular of this particular period the

frame on this wall is more of the same

the United States notes showing silver

certificates and gold certificates our

cache room was a room where until 1975

you could come and redeem any government

Draft for cash that by Draft I mean a

note if you had a gold certificate or

silver certificate you could come to the

Treasury Building and receive gold or

silver for whatever currency note that

you had in your possession to show the

stability financial stability at that

particular time of the United States of


right down to 1975 the room has a mantle

and over mantle mirror again the

overmantel mirror one of many from the

Treasury collection and a mantle that is

original to this particular space the

reason that this space down to 1910 had

a mantle is because even with the

renovation of building in 1910 the

conventions of coal burning fireplaces

were well-regarded by the occupants of

the building and they were retained