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- The U.S. One Dollar Bill -

Take out a U.S. one-dollar bill, and look at it. The one-dollar bill you're looking at first came off the presses in 1957 in its present design.

The currency paper you are holding is composed of 25% linen and 75% cotton. Red and blue synthetic fibers of various lengths are distributed evenly throughout the paper. Prior to World War I the fibers were made of silk.

On the front of the note, the United States Treasury Seal is located on the right side in the text "ONE".  On the top of the seal, you see the scales for a balanced budget. In the center, you have a carpenter's square, a tool used for an even cut. Underneath is the Key to the United States Treasury.

Turn the bill over and you see two circles. Both circles, together, comprise the Great Seal of the United States. The face (obverse) of the Great Seal first appeared on the back of the $20 Gold Certificate, Series 1905. In 1935, both the face and back (reverse) of the seal appeared for the first time on paper money on $1 Silver Certificates.

Mandated by the First Continental Congress in 1776, the Great Seal took many years of work by multiple individuals and committees before final adoption in 1782. The Department of State is the official keeper of the seal. A description and explanation of both the obverse and reverse of the seal comes from the Department of State pamphlet “The Great Seal of the United States” (September 1996)


Obverse Side of the Great Seal

The most prominent feature is the American bald eagle supporting the shield, or escutcheon, which is composed of 13 red and white stripes, representing the original States, and a blue top which unites the shield and represents Congress. The motto E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one), alludes to this union. The olive branch and 13 arrows denote the power of peace and war, which is exclusively vested in Congress. The constellation of stars denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers.


Reverse Side of the Great Seal

The pyramid signifies strength and duration: The eye over it and the motto Annuit Coeptis (He [God] has favored our undertakings) allude to the many interventions of Providence in favor of the American cause. The date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence and the words under it, Novus Ordo Seclorum (A new order of the ages), signify the beginning of the new American era in 1776.


In God We Trust

The use of the national motto on both U.S. coins and currency notes is required by two statutes, 31 U.S.C. 5112(d) (1) and 5114(b), respectively. The motto was not adopted for use on U.S. paper currency until 1957. It first appeared on some 1935G Series $1 Silver Certificates, but didn't appear on U.S. Federal Reserve Notes until the Series 1963 currency. This use of the national motto has been challenged in court many times over the years that it has been in use, and has been consistently upheld by the various courts of this country, including the U.S. Supreme Court. The Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice intend to actively defend against challenges to the use of the national motto. In 1992, a challenge was filed and successfully defeated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Facts About the $1 Notes

* George Washington (1732-1799) was:
    - Member of the First and Second Continental Congresses (1774-1775)
    - Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolutionary Army (1775-1783)
    - President of the Constitutional Convention (1787)
    - First President of the United States (1789-1797)

* The first $1 notes (called United States Notes or Legal Tender) were issued by the Federal Government in 1862 and featured a portrait of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase (1861-1864).

* The first use George Washington's portrait on $1 notes was on Series 1869 United States Notes.

* Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on a U.S. currency note. It appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896.

* The first $1 Federal Reserve Notes were issued in 1963. The design, featuring George Washington on the face and the Great Seal on the back, has not changed.

Other Interesting Facts About U.S. Notes

* The front of the bills feature portraits of famous, deceased American statesmen:
    - George Washington on the $1
    - Thomas Jefferson on the $2
    - Abraham Lincoln on the $5
    - Alexander Hamilton on the $10
    - Andrew Jackson on the $20
    - Ulysses Grant on the $50
    - Benjamin Franklin on the $100

* The backs of the bills feature images reflective of the history of our nation:
    - The Great Seal of the United States on the $1.
    - The signing of the Declaration of Independence on the $2
    - The Lincoln Memorial on the $5
    - The Treasury Building on the $10
    - The White House on the $20
    - The Capitol on the $50
    - The Independence Hall on the $100

* Notes of higher denominations, while no longer produced feature:
    - William McKinley on the $500
    - Grover Cleveland on the $1000
    - James Madison on the $5000
    - Salmon Chase on the $10,000

* The 100 dollar note has been the largest denomination of currency in circulation since 1969.

* The largest note ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 Gold Certificate, Series 1934. These notes were printed from December 18, 1934 through January 9, 1935 and were issued by the Treasurer of the United States to Federal Reserve Banks only against an equal amount of gold bullion held by the Treasury. These notes were used for transactions between FRBs and were not circulated among the general public.

* The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces 35 million notes a day with a face value of approximately $635 million.

* 95% of the notes printed each year are used to replace notes already in circulation. 45% of the notes printed are $1 notes.

* The first paper currency issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury were Demand Notes Series 1861.

* The approximate weight of a currency note, regardless of denomination is (1) one gram. There are 454 grams in one (1) U.S. pound, therefore, there should be 454 notes in (1) one pound (Avoirdupois system). If the troy system were used, there are (12) twelve ounces in (1) one pound; therefore, if one note weighs approximately (1) one gram, then (1) troy pound contains approximately 375 notes.

* Our present sized currency measures 2.61 inches wide by 6.14 inches long, and the thickness is .0043 inches. If each currency note printed was laid end to end, they would stretch around the earth's equator approximately 24 times. Larger sized notes in circulation before 1929 measured 3.125 inches by 7.4218 inches.

* Between the Fort Worth, Texas and the Washington, DC Facilities approximately 18 tons of ink per day are used.

* About 4,000 double folds (first forward and then backwards) are required before a note will tear.

* The following information regarding the average life of a Federal Reserve Note was provided by the Federal Reserve System - please note that the life of a note depends on its denomination:

$ 1 ................ 22 months
$ 5 ................ 24 months
$ 10................ 18 months
$ 20 ............... 25 months
$ 50 ............... 55 months
$100 .............. 60 months

* Bill are crowded with numbers and letters that help the U.S. Treasury track printing errors and authenticate currency. Here is what many of them mean:

    - The "B" on the left side is the Federal Reserve Bank that issued the bill.
    - The "2" to the left of the "B" (also printed on the bottom left, right and upper right) is the number that corresponds to the letter ("B"). A=1, B=2, C=3. There are 12 Federal Reserve banks.
    - The number to the left of the "2" is the position on the 32 note sheet where the bill comes from.
    - The number to the right of the bottom right "2" specifies the plate used to print the bill.
    - The letter before the serial number corresponds to the Federal Reserve Bank.
    - The letter at the end of the serial number tells how many times the serial number has been used.
    - Signature on the bottom left is the Treasurer overseeing the U.S. Mint and the B.E.P.
    - Signature on the bottom right is the Treasury Secretary overseeing the Treasurer and the nations financial accounts, including the I.R.S.

* During the Civil War period, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was called upon to print paper notes in denominations of 3 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, and 50 cents. The reason for this is that people hoarded coins because of their intrinsic value which created a drastic shortage of circulating coins.

* Contrary to popular belief, the automobile pictured on the back of the $10 note is not a Model "T" Ford. It is merely a creation of the designer of the bill.

* The origin of the "$" sign has been variously accounted for, however, the most widely accepted explanation is that the symbol is the result of evolution, independently in different places, of the Mexican or Spanish "P's" for pesos, or piastres, or pieces of eight. The theory, derived from a study of old manuscripts, is that the "S" gradually came to be written over the "P," developing a close equivalent of the "$" mark. It was widely used before the adoption of the United States dollar in 1785.

Something To Think About

* Saying that the number 13 is an unlucky number is almost a worldwide belief. You will usually never see a room numbered 13, or any hotels or motels with a 13th floor. Think about this: 13 original colonies, 13 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 13 stripes on our flag, 13 steps on the Pyramid, 13 letters in the Latin above, 13 letters in "E Pluribus Unum", 13 stars above the Eagle, 13 bars on that shield, 13 leaves on the olive branch, 13 fruits, and if you look closely, 13 arrows. And for minorities: the 13th Amendment.