Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You think you know about the U.S. dollar?

  The greenback has a colorful history that’s all its own. Here are a few facts you might not have known about the world’s most popular reserve currency. (Except where noted, all information is courtesy of federalreserveeducation.org.)

Better to be Ben than Abe

While use is the obvious reason for the different lifespans, you can bet they would be considerably shorter if the bills were made out of actual paper. The Federal Reserve gives its makeup as one-fourth linen and three-fourths cotton.

And if you have a bill that has reached the end of the line and it would like exchange it, but no bank will take it, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the place you want to be.

The four-thousandth fold

I’m sure at some point all people have asked themselves, “How many times would I have to fold this bill backward and forward before it would rip in half?” Right?

Here’s your answer: 4,000. And before you ask, no, 3,999, won’t do it.

It costs how much to make $1?

About 45% of the notes printed each year are $1, and 95% are used as replacement notes. (There’s a lot of folding going on.) Despite what one would think would be only minor differences in the cost to make different denominations, the Federal Reserve states that $1 and $2 notes cost 5.5 cents each, $5, $10 and $100 notes cost 9.9 cents, and $20 and $50 notes cost 10.9 cents.

Over $900 million a day

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces 26 million notes a day, with a face value of approximately $907 million. To give you an idea of how that fits into the overall scheme of things, according to the Federal Reserve, there was approximately $1.2 trillion in circulation as of July 24, 2013, although $1.15 trillion of that total was in Federal Reserve notes.

It’s all about the Woodrows

The Federal Reserve Board currently issues $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes. The largest denomination Federal Reserve note ever issued for public circulation was the $10,000 note. On July 14, 1969, the Federal Reserve and the Department of the Treasury announced that banknotes in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 would be discontinued due to lack of use. Although they were issued until 1969, they were last printed in 1945.

The largest bill ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 gold certificate. However, they were never put into circulation and were used for transactions only between Reserve banks. Woodrow Wilson is the president featured on the bill.

Show us the money ... seriously, we need to check it out

The Secret Service was created in 1865 to fight rampant counterfeiting in the wake of the Civil War, when, according the Secret Service web site, it was estimated that a full one-third to one-half of the currency in circulation was counterfeit.

The agency didn’t take on the additional, and more well-known, duty of protecting the president until after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901.

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