20 Fascinating Facts About the US Dollar
20. Martha Washington was First
Not many people realize this, but Martha Washington was once portrayed on the silver dollar certificate. This is the one and only time a woman has been portrayed on American currency. Today, it could be worth over $1,000 if it’s in mint condition.
19. George Washington vs. Salmon P. Chase
The first legal $1 tender note did not feature George Washington. Issued during the Civil War, the $1 note featured Salmon P. Chase, who was the Secretary of the Treasury at the time. You learn something new every day, right?
18. No Redesign for the $1 Bill
Over the past decade, the Federal Reserve has redesigned the $5, $10, $20 and $50 bill. Sadly, the $1 bill has received no love whatsoever. Currently, the only redesign in the works is the new $10 bill, which is likely to feature a woman for the first time since Martha Washington. The main reason the $1 bill has yet to be redesigned is due to the fact it’s rarely counterfeited.
17. U.S. Currency Circulation Statistics
As of 2016, there were 11.7 billion $1 bills in circulation. To compare, there were only 2.8 billion $5 bills in circulation during the same period of time. The bill with fewest in circulation was the $2 bill, which is to be expected since it is no longer in production.
16. The $1 Bill is Cheap to Produce
According to the Federal Reserve, the $1 bill is the cheapest bill to produce at only 5.4 cents per note. The most expensive bill is the $50 bill, which costs roughly 19.4 cents per note. We’re guessing the extra colors introduced in the redesign added on to the cost.
15. Believe It or Not Our Currency is Not Paper
While our currency may feel like paper, it’s actually not paper at all. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the U.S. currency is made from 75% cotton and 25% linen. Who knew? We guess if you have old money you’re not using you could knit it into a quilt.
14. The $1 Bill Circulation Life is 5.8 Years
The Federal Reserve has revealed that a $1 bill falls out of circulation every 5.8 years. The lowest lifespan for a bill is 4.5 years for the $10 bill, while the $100 bill has the longest at 15 years.
13. U.S. Currency is Covered in Bacteria
This statistic should make you reach for your Purell! According to a 2002 study by the U.S. Air Force, dollar bills are covered with bacteria. Some of the bacteria found could cause pneumonia and other harmful infections. This is why we use our credit card and leave the cash in the bank.
12. Money is also Covered in Cocaine
According to CNN, bacteria is not the only thing residing on our currency. In fact, 99% of the paper money in circulation has traces of cocaine on it. Also, money found in cities such as Los Angeles and Miami, had cocaine show up on the currency 100 percent of the time.
11. Don’t Throw Out Damaged Bills
If you have a dollar bill that’s torn or absolutely damaged beyond repair, a bank will still replace it. In fact, as long as you have ¾ of the bill, you can have it replaced with a crisp new one. So don’t throw it away! You can even tape the bill together and the bank still has to take it!
10. Track Your Money via Where’s George?
Do you ever wonder where your money has been? Well, now you can find out thanks to a website called Where’s George? All you have to do is enter the serial number on the bill you’d like to track and the website identifies all of the places its been during circulation. Since its inception, there have been over 270 million bills tracked.
9. Congress Took Their Time with the Great Seal
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, it took six years for Congress to approve the design of the Great Seal of the United States. The seal, as you should know, is heavily featured on the back of the one-dollar bill. You have to wonder what might have gone on the back had it not been approved.
8. The Hidden Meanings in the Eagle
Did you know the eagle on the back of the $1 bill is more than just a design? According to the Federal Reserve, the eagle’s talon represents war, while the olive branch represents peace. The United States has always been a country that promotes peace and prosperity, so it makes sense our currency would do the same.
7. More than Meets the Eye
The words above and below the pyramid on the dollar bill note hold significant meaning. “Annuit Coeptis” means “Providence Has Favored Our Undertakings,” and “Novus ordo seclorum” translates to “A New Order of the Ages.” According to the Federal Reserve, this refers to the U.S. historic form of government in the past.
6. The Eagle vs. the Turkey
Originally, Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird featured on the $1 bill because he believed it was a more “respectable” bird. Thomas Jefferson also wanted to include an Egyptian pharaoh in the seal as well. We’re kind of happy that both of these ideas never passed approval.
5. Lucky Number 13
There are 13 arrows in the eagle’s left talon on the back of the dollar bill note. The Great Seal also includes 13 stars and stripes to represent the 13 original colonies. The pyramid also includes 13 steps. It seems “13” was the lucky number when it came to designing our currency.
4. The Bill to Change the $1 Bill to Coins
In 2012, Senator John McCain and former Senator Tom Harkin introduced a bill that would replace the $1 bill with dollar coins. Their reasoning was that the move could save $13.8 billion over the next 30 years. However, it failed to pass because people were not willing to let go of their paper money.
3. New Printing Methods
The Bureau of Engraving experimented with the design of the $1 bill from 1992-1996, developing a cheaper method for manufacturing the note through “web printing.” According to the Bureau, the process could print the bill twice as fast; however, the process was eventually stopped. Some of these bills are still in circulation and are quite valuable if you happen to have one.
2. Sorry, $2 Bills are Worth Nothing
While some people collect $2 bills because they think they are valuable, the truth is they aren’t worth anything. Although the design is cool, there are still over a billion in circulation, so they haven’t become a rare commodity just yet.
1. Discontinued Bank Notes
Here’s a pretty cool fact: the largest bank notes ever printed were $100,000 bills. They were issued in 1934 and featured the face of President Woodrow Wilson. The bank note, along with other high bill notes, was discontinued due to lack of use in December of 1945. Interestingly enough, these bills are still legal to tender, although we’re not sure you would want to give up such a valuable piece of U.S. history.