For all you trivia buffs out there, here’s something to perk you up. The rich history behind our money affords us some notable facts about our currency, coins and cash. So here are a few to review!
FACT #1: There was a time that people made money by hand.
Duh! Like everything else in its earliest days, even money was generated manually. I wonder if people developed carpal tunnel syndrome from doing what they did.
The Federal Government started printing paper currency only in 1861. People had hoarded the coins during the Civil War, and it soon wiped out money in circulation. Congress authorized the Treasury Department to create paper currency. They were called “greenbacks” after the color ink used on one side, and Lincoln, then president, was pictured on them. It required that the money be signed by the Treasurer or anyone designated by him. When it came out in 1862, it had to be signed by hand. Six people worked in the attic of the Treasury building every day, signing, sorting and sealing them.
FACT #2: All those lines on your bill are not just lines, they’re actual phrases.
If you don’t have anything better to do, take a magnifying glass to your bill and discover that some lines in your currency’s images are really the words “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” printed repeatedly.
How many times does “The United states of America” appear on a new $100 bill? The answer is twelve (two obvious appearances plus ten times around the oval). Franklin’s portrait is framed by an oval consisting of concentric rules, cross-hatching, and white space. Similar, though slightly different, ovals surround the portraits on all US bills. Using a magnifying glass, look at the outermost line of the oval. It turns our not to be a line at all but the repeated words “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”
Fact #3: The biggest bill that exists is one for $100,000.
What are the various denominations of US currency? 12 are legal tender (but 5 are not in circulation anymore). It ranges from $1 to $100,000. The highest denomination printed in the last 45 years is a $100. Everything over $100 has been officially “retired” from circulation for 30 years. The $2 bill was revived in 1976 but flopped again, and was finally assigned as a Federal Reserve Note, remaining in circulation but continues to be rarely seen. Amusingly, it has resurfaced in the spotlight in the media. On the other end of the spectrum, the $100,000 bill was never made available to the public, and was limited to transactions between the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. However, it is still legal tender, if anyone can get it.
Fact #4: There’s a chance you can still spot some $1,000, $5,000 or even $10,000 bills floating around out there.
The issuance of currency in denominations of five hundred dollars, one thousand dollars, five thousand dollars, and ten thousand dollars was discontinued in 1969 because of declining use. Large denomination bills are still considered legal tender if in use, but these bills are now removed from circulation as they reach Federal Reserve Banks. Large denomination bills are no longer considered necessary since paper money has been substantially replaced by check-book money in daily business life. More recently, credit card and computer transactions have provided the basis for most large-scale monetary exchanges.
Fact #5: Do you know how the dollar sign ($) got invented?
I never really thought about it. It was one of those things that just “is”. But now you know the rest of the story right here…
Most people think the symbol for the US dollar is derived from the initials U and S superimposed on each other. Well this is false. It’s from the Spanish dollar sign. The US decided in 1782 that its basic unit of currency would be the Spanish dollar or peso. Its symbol was even then written as $, which was supposedly an ancient Phoenician sign indicating strength and sovereignty.
That’s our history lesson for the day folks. Check back for more installments as there is more where this came from!
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