Facts About U.S. Money

Source: U.S. Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Web: www.bep.treas.gov .

Have you ever wondered ...

If you had 10 billion $1 notes and spent one every second of every day, it would require 317 years for you to go broke.

  • When was paper money first printed in the U.S.? The U.S. Department of the Treasury first issued paper U.S. currency in 1862 to make up for the shortage of coins and to finance the Civil War. There was a shortage of coins because people had started hoarding them; the uncertainty caused by the war had made the value of items fluctuate drastically. Because coins were made of gold and silver their value didn't change much, so people wanted to hang onto them rather than buy items that might lose their value.
  • What denominations of bills were first printed? The first paper notes were printed in denominations of 1 cent, 5 cents, 25 cents, and 50 cents.
  • How long does money last? That depends on the denomination of the note. A $1 bill lasts 18 months; $5 bill, two years; $10 bill, three years; $20 bill, four years; and $50 and $100 bills, nine years. Bills that get worn out from everyday use are taken out of circulation and replaced.
  • How much does $1 million weigh? That would depend on the denomination of the bills you use. Since there are 490 notes in a pound, if you used $1 bills it would weigh 2,040.8 pounds, but if you used $100 bills it would weigh only 20.4 pounds.
  • How much money is printed each day? The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces 38 million notes a day with a face value of approximately $541 million. That doesn't mean there is $541 million more money circulating today than there was yesterday, though, because 95% of the notes printed each year are used to replace notes already in circulation.
  • How many pennies were made in 1998? There were more than 10 billion pennies made in 1998. The actual number of coins produced, by denomination, was as follows: pennies, 10,257,400,000; nickels, 1,323,672,000; dimes, 2,335,300,000; quarters, 1,867,400,000; half-dollars, 30,710,000.
  • What percentage of bills are $1 notes? Almost half, 48 percent, of the notes printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are $1 notes.
  • What are the dimensions of U.S. paper currency? Our present currency measures 2.61 inches wide by 6.14 inches long, and the thickness is 0.0043 inches. Larger sized notes in circulation before 1929 measured 3.125 inches by 7.4218 inches.
  • What is money made of? Coins are usually made of copper and another element, such as zinc or nickel. Currency paper is composed of 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton. Red and blue synthetic fibers of various lengths are distributed evenly throughout the paper. Before World War I these fibers were made of silk.
  • Has a woman's portrait ever appeared on U.S. paper money? 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.
  • What time is it on the Independence Hall clock on the back of the $100 bill? Though it would be difficult to tell without a magnifying glass, the hands of the clock in the steeple of Independence Hall are set at approximately 4:10.
  • Has an African American ever appeared on U.S. currency? Paper money bears the signatures of four African American men who served as Registers of the Treasury (Blanche K. Bruce, Judson W. Lyons, William T. Vernon, and James C. Napier) and one African American woman who served as Treasurer of the United States (Azie Taylor Morton). No portraits of African Americans have appeared on paper money, but commemorative coins were issued in the 1940s bearing the images of George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington, followed more recently by the release of a Jackie Robinson coin.

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