Archive for September, 2008

The Presidential $1 Coin Program

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

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us 1 dollar coinsThe US Presidential $1 Coin Program, which began in January 2007, was initiated in tribute to the former Presidents of the United States of America. The program basically regulates the production of $1 coins with portraits of former U.S. Presidents, impressed on its obverse side, by the United States Mint.

The issuance of these coins will feature the depiction of four separate US Presidents on an annual basis, one design every quarter, until every eligible president is honored. The Act of Congress, Pub.L. 109-145, 119 Stat. 2664, enacted 2005-12-22, states that in order for a president to be honored, the former president must have been dead for at least two years before the issue, in order of eligibility. The George Washington Presidential $1 Coin was first issued on February 15, 2007, just in time for the President’s Day which is celebrated on February 19th.

Although it may seem that, given the statute, it would take approximately 11 years for the program to depict all 40 over presidents to date, if so, the program will not be able to feature all US presidents by the end of its course, because of its terms of eligibility.

As for the reverse side of these coins, the impression of the Statue of Liberty, the “$1” sign, and the words “United States of America” will be a permanent fixture. The legends E Pluribus Unum and In God We Trust, along with the year of minting and the mint mark will adorn the edges of these coins.

It is said that in February 2007, at least 50,000 coins were released without these inscriptions on the reverse side of the George Washington Presidential $1 Coins. This simple yet interesting error resulted in these coins being referred to as the “Godless dollars”, because of the missing “In God we trust” inscription. These coins have been known to fetch between $40 to $600 dollars amongst coin collectors all around the world.

Although it was not specified anywhere in the act what the color of these coins should be, it was consented by the US Mint that the specification be similar of that to the existing Golden dollar.

The Presidential $1 Coin Program was predominantly introduced to replace the Sacagawea $1 coin, which failed to garner enough interest in the United States. The program also recognized the need of $1 coins in the private sector and hoped that the change in design would increase public demand for these coins, just as the recent success of the US States Quarters program did.

Apart from educating the public on the history of our presidents, US Mint was also determined that these coins would create enough interest amongst collectors, just as it did with the State Quarters which was said to have generated almost $5 billion dollars in seigniorage.

Following the Presidential $1 Coin Program, the nation is also honoring the former first ladies by issuing $10 gold coins under the First Spouses Program. These coins will feature the images of all former first spouses, by order of term served, and will be issued to coincide with their respective $1 Presidential coins. I wonder what happens when they have to produce a spouseless president’s coin ;)

Designs On US Dollar Coinage

Friday, September 26th, 2008

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coinsDollar coins have had as colorful of a history as any paper currency here in the United States. It has, throughout time and again, been minted in various metal elements, which includes gold, silver, copper-nickel, and manganese-brass.

The first dollar coin minted back in 1974 was made out of silver. The minting of this silver dollar continued steadily until 1935, although it is said that its production was temporarily ceased between 1803 and 1836. Seven different designs were listed to have graced the dollar coin throughout this period and these are the Flowing Hair from 1794 to 1795, the Draped Bust from 1795 to 1803, the Gobrecht Dollar from 1836 to 1839, the Seated Liberty from 1840 to 1873, the Trade Dollar from 1873 to 1878, the Morgan Dollar from 1878 to 1921, and the Peace Dollar from 1921 to 1935.

Gold dollar coins, that was made out of 90 percent pure gold, were produced from 1849 to 1889. The decision to mint gold dollar is said to be credited to the gold rush period of the 1840’s. Because of its worth, the gold dollar is the smallest coin ever produced in the United States to date. The gold dollar coin spanned three periods of design stages, the first being the Liberty Head from 1849 to 1854, the Small Indian Head from 1854 to 1856, and the Large Indian Head from 1856 to 1889. It is also said that although gold dollar coins were no longer minted after 1889, several issues were struck in 1915 and 1922 to commemorate the Panama Canal and U.S. Grant respectively, and continued to circulate until the abandonment of the gold standard in the 1930’s.

The next phase in the United States coinage was the copper-nickel clad dollar coins, a period which spanned from 1971 to 1999. Designs on this variety of mint includes the Eisenhower Dollar from 1971 to 1978, the Eisenhower Bicentennial from 1975 to 1976, and the Anthony Dollar from 1979 to 1999. The Anthony Dollar or also cynically known as the “Carter quarters”, due to the poor performance of the dollar during President Jimmy Carter’s term, was minted in tribute to Susan B. Anthony, an important American civil rights leader of the 19th century.

In the year 2000, the Sacagawea Dollar series took birth and it still remains one third of all coins produced to date. The only other design of coinage that is of legal tender is the Presidential Dollar Coin Program, which was introduced in 2007.

The program was initiated to commemorate the former Presidents of the United States and it was decided that four new engraved relief portraits of them be minted each year, in sequential order by term served in office. The Statue of Liberty is engraved on its reverse, along with the inscription “$1 and the words “United States of America”. Presidents that have adorned the coins so far are George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren, the latter being released this coming November.

If this program should continue to depict all of our Presidents, George W. Bush would adorn the dollar coin in 2016. Cant wait!

Portraits and Designs On The Dollar Bill

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

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banknote portraitsIt is generally known that the selection of designs and portraits on the dollar bill is decided by the Secretary of the Treasury, with the advice of authorized official from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, after a thorough review by the Commission on Fine Arts.

It is also acknowledged that all of the portraits on the dollar bill are of deceased individuals of significant historical importance. This is because the Unites States Code, Title 31, Section 5114(b), forbids the depiction of any living persons on the dollar bill. The designs and portraits on the dollar bill today were chosen back in 1928, and in 1996, security enhanced variations were introduced in response to growing threats of currency counterfeiters worldwide.

The dollar bills in circulation today features the portraits and designs of George Washington displaying the number “1” between obverse and reverse of the Great Seal on the $1 bill, Thomas Jefferson with the design of “The Signing of the Declaration of Independence” on the $2 bill, Abraham Lincoln with the design of the Lincoln Memorial on the $5 bill, Alexander Hamilton with the design of the US Treasury Building on the $10 bill, Andrew Jackson with the design of the White House on the $20 bill, Ulysses S. Grant with the design of the US Capitol on the $50 bill, and Benjamin Franklin with the design of the Independence Hall on the $100 bill.

There are also several other depicted portraits on other denominations of the dollar bill which ceased in circulation back in 1969. These are the $500 bill displaying the portrait of William McKinley, the $1000 bill bearing a portrait of Grover Cleveland, the $5000 bill bearing a portrait of James Madison, the $10000 bill bearing a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, and the $100000 bill displaying a portrait of Woodrow Wilson.

No records have been found to date, however, to suggest the reasoning behind the selection of certain Presidents and statesmen on these various denominations.

To help safeguard against counterfeiters, the US government is expected to redesign the dollar bill every decade or so. The dollar bill is less exposed to the threats of forgery through the significant improvements in its security features, the tighter laws governing counterfeiters, and the ongoing effort to educate the public on the subject matter. Basically the new designs are targeted to be safer which makes it harder to forge and easier to check, smarter to stay ahead of tech-savvy forgers, and more secure, which help protect the integrity of the currency.

The subtle background colors of this new enhance designs is probably the most noticeable difference on the new dollar bills. This frustrates forgers as it makes the dollar bill more intricate and harder to counterfeit. This significant change also helps distinguish the different denominations because of the obvious contrast in background colors.

Despite all these added features, the redesigned dollar bills continue to preserve its distinct size, look and feel of the original dollar bills of the yesteryears, making it the most recognizable and travelled paper money in the world.

This continuous effort to honor the previous portraits and designs of the dollar bill can be credited to The Department of the Treasury. The older designed dollar bills are also never recalled or exchanged upon the pumping-in of the newer more secure currency. This process is methodically carried out in a controlled and purposeful manner, usually in stages, being careful not to overwhelm the financial markets. As a result, and due to the billions of dollars circulating worldwide, which is deliberately unaffected by this change, the value of the dollar bill has in time continue to strengthen in value.


Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

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dollarizationDollarization, in a nutshell, transpires when a nation uses foreign currency to substitute theirs. Although the terminology may have different interpretations, officially what happens is a country ceases the use of their own domestic currency and opts for a much stabile foreign currency, usually to help aid their already ailing economies. Although similar in effect, dollarization is another slow but sure-fix alternative to pegging or maintaining a floating currency, which are all efficient methods in endowing a much steady and secure economic and investment environment.

So far, currencies that have been officially used for dollarization are the United States dollar, the Euro, the Australian dollar, the Russian ruble, the Swiss franc, the Indian rupee, the New Zealand dollar, and the Turkish new lira.

Today, more countries in the world have dollarized their currencies to the US dollar as compared to any other foreign money. Amongst some of the countries that have adopted the US dollar as legal tender are British Virgin Islands, East Timor, Marshall Islands, Ecuador, Federated States of Micronesia, El Salvador, Turks and Caicos Islands, Palau, and Panama. These countries may have opted for dollarization due to its emerging and transitional economies, or could also have had owing issues with rising inflation.

Dollarization wasn’t always an approachable option though, as it was previously believed to be not viable on a political stand point. However this changed in 1999, when it began gaining a reputation as an implementable strategy by a number of countries in dire need of an economic surge. This was probably because it was thought to be the most instrumental strategy in lowering inflation and promoting better financial strength.

Many of these countries may have also already been using US dollar informally in prior to fully engaging in dollarization, probably in private or public transactions, banks accounts or even contracts. The full switch to foreign legal tender would mean that individuals and institutions were beginning to desperately protect their interests against an imminent and fore-seeable devaluation of their local exchange rate. Dollarizing their economies would also mean that their financial markets become more credible, ending any further damaging financial speculations and further stifling capital markets. The fact that the disparities in exchange rate is no longer a threat is also a driving factor behind the reduction of interests on foreign lending.

Apart from many of its advantages, dollarization also has its short-comings. One of the main disadvantages of dollarization is a nation virtually gives up its right to directly control its own economy or administer any monetary policies, and its ability to manage exchange rates. This is primarily because with dollarization the country no longer prints its own currency.

Another drawback to dollarization is the practicing country will no longer be able to collect any profits from the issuing of currency. This happens when the cost of producing the currency is lower than the actual currency itself. The US Federal Reserve collects all profits in this instance. Apart from the negative impact this has on GDP, the country in its entirety also suffers a significant loss of income.

Dollarization also robs a nation of its sense of individualism, due to the autonomous financial and economic policy that’s conditioned with it. Whatever the pros and cons of dollarization may be, experts say that it is only to be used as an extreme alternative, as most countries that have adopted it finds it a process that is almost impossible to reverse, without causing long lasting financial repercussions that is.

The US Dollar As The Leading International Reserve Currency

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

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euros us dollarsThe US dollar has always been the most imperative reserve currency in the world, to date at least. So significant is the US dollar bill in its trade that it is said that up to 70 percent of international currency reserves today is made out of the US dollar. This is probably the reason why the United States can afford to run higher global trade deficits and get away with it, its because of the much delayed impact this has on its economy. This “float” illusion also ultimately gives the US dollar bill enough time to recuperate, and in doing so helps to absorb some of the brunt of a financial crisis.

The reason the US dollar gained such an acclaimed reputation is due to it consistency in strength, making it a favorite amongst international traders. It was so commonly used in international trade that nations began stockpiling US currency as a indefinite form of bailout. The stash also directly helps strengthen export competitiveness within these countries, although this would also directly result in the weakening of their own respective currencies. Another advantage to stockpiling the US dollar is the fast and great inflows of capital it creates, which ultimately helps its intention in buffering against any impending financial predicaments.

This wasn’t always the case though, the US dollar did not have as much international presence as it does today early in the century, and this is why many experts say the US economy crashed back in 1929, during the great depression, because the world wasn’t as dependant on it as it is today.

Even essential commodities like gold and oil are priced in US dollar to create a more common global denominator, eliminating unhealthy trade competition, and many countries retain the currency as a means to ease trade.

The US dollar was initially established as a reserve currency principally because the US flooded the world with economical but quality manufactured goods, forcing international markets to have US dollar ready-at-hand. This is no longer the case these days, US made goods are now expensive and countries like Japan produce higher quality goods for fraction of the price.

Today, the US dollar is slowly loosing its appeal as the preferred reserve currency globally, thanks to the introduction of the Euro, arguably a much more stable currency, although continuous debates follows those who may think otherwise. Whatever it may be, I think the US dollar will preserve its status as the number one reserve currency for a long long time to come.

Dollar Bill Nicknames

Friday, September 12th, 2008

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Money roll greenbackThe dollar bill has come a long way. Over the centuries, it has changed hands trillions of times, owned, sold and traded by millions of people, from all walks of life, and travelled the whole world x number of times over. So its no wonder that the dollar bill today has adopted quite a number of nicknames and colloquialisms along its many journeys.

One of the most famous nicknames that the dollar bill has been tagged with is buck. This reference is said to have originated from the fur trade back in the 18th century. Another nickname commonly used until today when referring to the dollar bill is greenback. The name was exclusively applied to the dollar bill during the creation of the Demand Note dollar in the 19th century. Its reference is said to be due to the black and green printing on the back side of the dollar bill, hence greenback! Accredited to Abraham Lincoln, the greenback was used to finance the cost of the American Civil War, up north.

K, is a suffix used to describe the multiple of a thousand dollars. For example, instead of saying eight thousand dollars, one would simply say $8K instead. K, is said to have originated from the first letter of the word Kilo, which is a metric system terminology used to indicate a thousand units. The word, grand, is also another colloquialism frequently used when referring to a multiple of a thousand dollars. People sometimes shorten this designation to the letter, G. For example, 50G would mean fifty thousand dollars. Dollar bills are often referred to by their assigned denominations as well, such as five or ten.

The one dollar bill is sometimes referred to as a “single”, and the two dollar bill a “tom” or a “deuce”. Five dollar bills are sometimes referred to as a “fiver” or “fin”, and even a “five-spot”, whereas the ten dollar bill has been called a “Hamilton”, referring to the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, a “ten-spot”, or a “sawbuck”.

The twenty dollar bill has been given nicknames such as “Jackson,” a “twenty-banger,” a “twomp,” and a “double sawbuck”. Apart from the nickname fifty, the fifty dollar bill has also been referred to as a “half C,” a “half century,” and a “half yard”. A “Benjamin,” a “Benjie,” a “Frank”, a C-note, a Century Note, a “bill”, a “bigface” and even a “large”, are all nicknames given to the one hundred dollar bill.

The dollar bill has also been referred to fondly in different languages. Puerto Ricans and Mexicans living in the US would refer to the dollar bill as peso. Piastre, which is a French word for a unit of currency, is also another moniker used to describe the dollar bill. Mexicans would sometimes refer to the dollar bill as “en inglés” when paying for things with the currency. Coco, another nickname for the dollar bill in Peru, is a pet name given to the portrait of George Washington on the one dollar bill.

Whatever you may call the dollar bill, it is safe to say that it has such a strong influence and an inseparable attachment in our lives that we begin making it our own by giving it labels we identify most closely with. Are there any other nicknames that you’ve heard the dollar bill being called? Please share them with us here.

The Incredible Two Dollar Bill

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

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two dollar bill

The $2 bill is arguably the most controversial US currency of all time. One of the rarest and least use denomination, the $2 bill’s obverse illustration of Thomas Jefferson, adopted in 1929, is the oldest design of all US paper currencies today, whereas, The Declaration of Independence drawing, featured on its reverse, was designed in 1976.

It could be that the reason why the $2 bill is so scarce today is because it’s the least circulated currency in history, currently running at a 1% float! The $2 bill was first introduced in 1862, and in 1966, a century later, its production was stopped following the discontinuation of the United States Notes, which was the currency class it was assigned to at that time. Unlike the rest of the denominations, the $2 bill did not make the reassignment to the Federal Reserve Note class of the United States, largely due to its lack of popularity back then. Its demise was however short lived. The $2 bill made a comeback in 1976, as part of the bicentennial, and was finally inducted into the Federal Reserve Note class.

Most $2 bills in circulation today are from the 1976 series, with the newer bills printed as and when needed. It is said that the demand for the $2 bill is so low that a single batch of prints will last for years. Its perceived rarity is said to be largely due to the lack of public knowledge of the currency and its even more sporadic printing. Its almost never traded in commercial transactions, even as change, and this led to a greater propensity to store any $2 bills encountered, which over time resulted in its decline.

The $2 bill was also, initially, only assigned to a single class currency, the United States Note, which had a statutory limit of, $346,861,016, in circulation at any given time. This class was later passed on to the $5 bill and here was where the imminent doom of the $2 bill began, completely seizing its production in 1966.

Even after the reintroduction of the $2 bill in 1976, it didn’t garner enough interest amongst businesses to generate potential increase in circulation, although, it was greeted with adequate curiosity and was primarily seen as a collectible.

These days, contrary to a widespread fallacy that the currency is no longer in use, the $2 bill continues to strive in proving its worth as a tradable currency and is slowly working its way back into the hearts of the masses. The only way to achieve this feat, according to the US Treasury, is for businesses to use them as they would any other denomination and for banks to stop shunning them out.

Given all that, surprisingly enough, in 2005 alone, 61 million $2 bills were printed, a steep and significant surge since 1990. Could this be an indication that the $2 bill is here to stay, or will it continue to inspire more urban legends and myths and someday disappear again into oblivion, as it did once before. What’s your take on it?

How to Detect Counterfeit Dollar Bills

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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counterfeit dollar bill

Did you know that less that 1/100 of 1% of dollar bills in circulation today are counterfeit, which is a very small percentage given its incentives and the technological advances readily accessible today. This is probably because of the recently enhanced security features of the dollar bill and the stiffer criminal penalties associated to counterfeiting, which discourages counterfeiters from venturing into US currencies.

Nevertheless, given the amount of dollar bills that is in current circulation internationally, the chances of you stumbling across a note or two are pretty good, most times without us even realizing it. Mind you, finding yourself in possession of one, knowingly, is a federal offence. Having that said, prepared below are just some of the basic easy to follow steps of detecting counterfeit dollar bills:

1. People who fairly handle money quit a bit will be able to identify a fake dollar bill right away simply by touching it. Even if you don’t handle money that often, you would have felt enough genuine money to be able to tell a real one from a fake, just by paying close attention. The surface of a genuine dollar bill is slightly raised, which makes it somewhat three dimensional, an effect produced during the intaglio process. Most fake dollar bills have flat surfaces.

2. Check the printing quality of the dollar bill. Genuine dollar bills are printed using a procedure that negates digital printing and it’s so easy to spot, although this replication process may be achievable by the more experiences counterfeiters. Look out for blurry spots, smears, fine details which may appear dull, designs, portraits, and features, which are distinctive especially to that particular denomination in question. You can easily do this by comparing two notes of the same value together.

3. All dollar bills have little red and blue fibers which are embedded within the note. Counterfeit notes will have the detail printed on instead, that’s how you tell.

4. One of the most famous ways of detecting counterfeit money is by holding it up to the light and looking out for the watermark. The watermark on genuine dollar bills must match the print. Another feature to look out for, especially for the $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100 bills, is the security thread, which is a plastic strip embedded and runs, vertically, from top to the bottom of the dollar bill.

5. Take note of the serial number and make sure they match. The serial numbers should be spread out evenly in space and are perfectly aligned. Another easy way to spot counterfeit is by making sure that serial numbers don’t match. Serial numbers are distinct on each dollar bill.

6. The newer denominations of $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills have the color-shifting ink feature. The ink will appear to change in color when tilted to a certain angle, a feature which is difficult to replicate by counterfeiters.

7. Last but not least, hold your dollar bill under a black light to see if the security strip glows. The $5 bill will have a blue glow, the $10 orange, the $20 green, the $50 yellow, and the $100 bill red.
Hope the information above helps you identify counterfeit dollar bills better. If you have any other ideas or tips, please feel free to post your comments below.

The Atlantean Conspiracy, the Freemasons, the Occult, and the One-Dollar Bill

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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dollar eyeThere’s a theory lurking among conspiracy theorists that everything from the Presidential blood lines, 911, the moon landing, the dollar bill, and just about everything else is part of something called the Atlantean Conspiracy.

According to these people, the Freemasons, the occult, our government, and many presidents can be tied to the symbols on a one-dollar bill, among other things. Let’s take a look at what they think.

Atlantean conspiracy supports cite that in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt, a 33 degree Freemason and Black Nobility president had the Great Seal added to the dollar bill. According to the theory, the Great Seal has been a symbol of secret societies in Europe years before the United States came into existence, and the symbols go back to the ancient world.

The Atlantean conspiracy people believe that the pyramid and the stars on the dollar-bill represent a Stellar Cult. They believe that the eagle is for a Solar Cult, and further that it signifies the constellation Scopio, also called Aquila. They see the sign of Scorpio as being a sign of power, money, and secret knowledge.

To further support this notion, the Atlantean Conspiracy theory also states that the United States elections are held in the middle of Scorpio and that the birthday of the U.S. is in the Scorpionic decanate of Cancer.

The color of the dollar bill, along with other U.S. currency is green. This group of people suggest that this color represents the Solar Cult and that the number 13 which appears in many ways on the dollar bill doesn’t represent the original 13 colonies at all, but really is a number in the Stellar Cult, and is a much used symbol used by the Israelites and other Semitic groups.

The Atlantean Conspiracy also states that the eagle comes from the Phoenix. They also claim that the eagle is a widely used Brotherhood symbol and popular on the coats of arms of countries including Egypt, Libya, and Iraq. They further state that it was also a symbol of the Nazis in Germany and is also used by the Christian Church.

They claim that seals not unlike the Great Seal of the United States can be traced back to ancient civilizations as old as 4,000 B.C. such as Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and India.

Jordon Maxwell, in his book, “Matrix of Power” states that; “When one understands that the number thirteen is a very important, profound Masonic number, and that many of the founding fathers were Freemasons, as well as Rosicrucians, then you will follow this connecting thread of material to see what was actually being created. They knew what they were doing when they divided this country into thirteen colonies. The number thirteen is not an unlucky number for them. It is an unlucky number for you.”

What do you think of the Atlantean Conspiracy? Do you think it hold some kernels of truth or is it all hogwash? Let us know what you think.

Silver Certificates

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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silver certificatesThe first silver certificates were printed in the United States in response to people who were upset with the Fourth Coinage Act that put the United States money on the gold standard. The certificate was designed to match the same value in silver coins. For example, one $50.00 Silver Certificate would be worth 50 silver dollars.

The seal and serial numbers on a Silver Certificate were printed in red, brown, and blue until Series 1899. At that time the seal and color numbers were permanently changed to blue for the $1, $2, and $5 dollar denominations.

In World War II, the government issued a 1935a Silver Certificate with a brown seal for Hawaii, and a yellow seal for North Africa distributions. The reasoning behind this move was if the money fell into enemy hands it could be easily identified and cancelled to prevent monetary losses in the United States.

In 1928, the United States Treasury reduced the size of the money to speed up transactions and cut the costs of printing. Thus, for Series 1928 only $1 Silver Certificates were printed.

In 1929 the Great Depression hit the United States and the country fell into economic disaster. The majority of citizens blamed the ever changing price of gold for the depression. President Franklin Roosevelt agreed and persuaded Congress to recall all gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates. At this time Congress very quietly placed the United States on the silver standard. May 12th, 1933, the Agricultural Adjustment Act was passed. This Act included a clause that allowed for huge amounts of silver to be pumped into the economy to replace the gold.

In 1934, Congress passed a low that changed the obligation on Silver Certificates to denote the current location of the silver. This law also gave the government the power to exchange silver bullion for these certificates, not just silver dollars. The 1928 one-dollar Silver Certificates were phased out and replaced with the certificates of Series 1934.

In March of 1964, Secretary of the Treasury, C. Douglas Dillion stopped the ability of citizens to redeem their Silver Certificates for Silver Dollars. Then in the 1970’s huge numbers of silver dollars in the vaults of the U.S. Mints were sold to collectors at collector value.

Finally on June 4, 1963 Congress abolished Silver Certificates and a citizen could no longer redeem their Silver Certificates for silver on June 24, 1968. This act pretty much ended the life of Silver Certificates. Kind of sad, really.

Do you have any Silver Certificates? If so, tell us about them or post a picture!

Fascinating Money Facts

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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money factsWhile cruising around the Internet the other day I found these little tidbits of information about money. Thought I’d share them with all of you.

Did you know that money in the larger denominations such as the $50.00 and $100.00 dollar bills can last up to 8 years while the average life of a $1.00 bill is 18 months? Why is that I wonder? Any ideas?

Now this is interesting. 97% of all paper money has traces of cocaine in it. Hmmm wonder if the government wants us all high so we won’t pay attention to what they’re doing. And if our money has cocaine in it, where is the government getting their drugs from? I thought drugs were illegal? While I’m sure the cocaine is probably a natural ingredient in the materials used to make the money, it still makes you wonder. Am I the only one who thinks about this stuff?

Here’s some more fodder for conspiracy theorists. On the clock tower of Independence Hall that is printed on the $100.00 bill the time is set at 4:10. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, there are no records explaining why that particular time was chosen. Does anyone know the significance of 4:10? I don’t, but would very curious to hear your theories.

We American’s must really love our one dollar bills because almost half of all money printed in the United States is a one dollar bill.

Martha Washington is the only woman to ever appear on a U.S. currency note. Her face graced the one dollar Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and was on the back of the one dollar Silver Certificate issued in 1896. Now that would be a very unique piece of history to have if you can find one.

Now I know very few people actually have $10 billion dollars, but if you did and you spent $1.00 every second of every day it would take you 317 years to spend it.

The name “Greenback” often associated with the one dollar bill comes from Demand Note dollars created by Abraham Lincoln in the late 1800’s. He created these special notes to finance the Civil War. This money was printed in black and green on the back side of the bill. Hence the name Greenback.

Talk about sturdy! Did you know that you’d have to fold a bill of any denomination over 8,000 times forward and backwards before it would tear?

And for all the women out there: Statistics have shown that in 75% of American homes it’s the women who manage the money and pay the bills.

Are There Jewish Symbols on the Dollar Bill?

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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great seal united statesSome people believe that there are Jewish symbols on a dollar bill that are in honor of the Jewish population both in the United States and Europe during the Revolutionary War. The story originated because of the heroic deeds of a Jewish man named Hyam (Hiam) Solomon who was George Washington’s financial advisor and assistant.

During the cold winter at Valley Forge when George Washington and his troops were stranded at Valley Forge, Hyam Solomon rallied both American and Europe to provide money in relief aid to the stranded American soldiers. By doing this, Mr. Solomon changed the course of history. His efforts provided the supplies and food these soldiers needed to sustain them through the cold winter. Thus, George Washington and his soldiers were able to complete their mission and help in the winning of the war and the United State’s freedom.

Some people believe that the starts above the eagle’s head are really a six point Star of David to honor the Jewish people. Also, some people think that if you turn the Eagle upside down you will see a figure that resembles a Menorah.

Nice story, right? The story is true, but the alleged symbols on the dollar bill are not there because of Mr. Solomon.

While this is a wonderful thought, the truth of the matter is that the first bill to have this symbol was the one-dollar Silver Certificate that was Series 1935, many years after George Washington’s death.

During the design process of the Great Seal of the United States, George Washington was fighting a war and had no input as to the design.

But don’t fret. Mr. Solomon was not forgotten in all this. In 1893 a bill was presented before Congress ordering a gold medal struck in recognition of Mr. Solomon’s contribution to history and the United States of America.

While Mr. Solomon’s efforts are heroic to be sure, there were many other ethnic groups that fought and sacrificed for the war. So why not acknowledge all of them? Are there other symbols in the dollar bill left to be discovered?

According to the government, the designers explained all the symbols used and their meanings. None of those meanings are connected to the Illuminati, the Masons, the Jewish people, or other groups.

What do you think? Do you think the government version is correct and any resemblance to a Jewish symbol is purely coincidental or do you believe that the Jewish people were honored in the design of the dollar bill? Let us know.

Storing and Grading Your Dollar Bill Collection

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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dollar bill boxNow that you’ve started collecting your currency you need a good way to store and protect those one dollar bills. Most collectors use a plastic sleeve that allows you to study both the front and back of the bill. It’s important to use a plastic sleeve without PVC plastic in it.

The PVC in the plastic can deteriorate over time and that will allow gases and acids to be released from the plastic onto your currency, ruining the bill. Many coin, stamp, and hobby stores will have an appropriate system for you to safely house your dollar bill collection.

Some collectors not only put their currency collections in plastic sleeves, but then store them in boxes to protect them from the sunlight and other light that may cause fading or other deterioration problems.

You can store them according to series, serial numbers, or the Federal Reserve Banks they were printed at.

Paper money is graded according to its condition. While there is no one absolute standard for grading currency, most collectors, dealers, and price guides will adhere to a basic standard.

For example, UNC or CU would mean crisp uncirculated. This means that there is no sign of wear, previous handling, nor folds, creases, or dog-eared corners.

AU would mean almost uncirculated. There may be a slight imperfection like a fold on one corner or a bend in the center that isn’t creased.

EF or XF would mean extremely fine. There could be three light folds or one hard fold that breaks the surface of the bill, but means the bill is clean and bright. There could be a rounding at the corner or corners.

VF would be very fine. A bill rated VF could have several folds, but the bill would still be crisp and very little dirt. There would be minor tears and the corners may be worn just a tad.

F would stand for fine. This would mean that the bill may be a bit soft. This grade would be about average for a bill that has been in circulation.

VG stands for very good. This type of bill could have tears or small holes. It is no longer crisp and there may be some staining.

Good(G), fair and poor. This would be the ratings for notes that are a bit shabby. It could have missing pieces or writing. This is a bill that is pretty worn out.

What grade of dollar bills do you look for? Do you save them or spend them? Let us know.

How To Build a Dollar Bill Collection?

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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dollar bill serial numberWith 23 different series of dollar bills issued and 12 different Federal Reserve Banks, there are more than 250 different notes that you could collect. Sounds easy right? Not really.

While it’s possible to collect one of each note, it would be a daunting task, so many collectors choose different things to collect. In addition, some of the dollar bills are very old and would be hard to find. But then again, the thrill is in the hunt, isn’t it.

The best way to start your collection is to choose exactly what you want to collect, meaning what type of serial numbers appeal to you, or you could decide to collect only dollar bills printed at very specific Federal Reserve Banks.

For example many collectors collect certain serial numbers. The most popular serial numbers to collect are the very low ones, but in reality, the very high serial numbers are the most rare because not every series reaches a high number. The more rare, the more valuable.

Some collectors look for ladder serial numbers like 12345678 or descending serial numbers like 87654321, while others look for solid or near solid serial numbers such as 11111111 or 222222212. Still other collectors look for serial numbers that repeat like 123123123, binary serial numbers that have only two digits in any combination like 113311133.

You could also collect what are called birthday dollar bills, these are dollar bills whose serial number contains a date, like 1964, etc.

Star notes have an asterisk or star either before or after the serial number. This happens because of production errors. An asterisk is put in place of a number so that the correct count of the dollar bills in a particular serial number run can be produced without having to repeat the serial number.

What type of dollar bills you choose to collect is entirely up to you, but try to be selective with regards to condition and rarity. If you find a dollar bill that appeals to you and it isn’t in the greatest condition, you still may want to add it to your collection until you can find another one in much better condition. How rare a particular dollar bill is may, in some cases, outweigh the overall condition.

What do you look for in your dollar bill collection? Do you look for particular serial numbers or a particular Federal Reserve Bank? Let us know!

The Owl, the Great Seal and the Freemasons

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

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pyramid great sealEver since someone tried to link the Great Seal of the United States to the Freemasons, the Great Seal has taken on a life of its own. Since that time, the Great Seal has been examined in excruciating detail and some surprising theories have been sent out into the Universe.

Someone, who obviously had a lot of time on their hands, discovered that if you draw a hexagram over the reverse side of the Great Seal the letters in the 5 points spell out the word “Mason”. These letters also spell out other words, but those words aren’t any fun because no hidden meaning can be found within them, well, at least not yet.

There’s also been much fussing, fighting and controversy surrounding the webbing in the background of the dollar bill. Some people claim to have found a spider or owl in the top left of the number “1” in the border.

This is probably just your eyes playing tricks on you, but some people aren’t so sure. They claim the owl is symbol of the Freemasons. The Freemasons do use an owl, but they didn’t start to use this symbol years after the first dollar bill was printed.

Conspiracy theorists will argue that may be true, but it could have been added during one of the changes in design or a new series had to be printed because of the change of Secretary of the Treasury. This could be true, who’s to say.

If an owl was in the original design chances are it was put there to signify wisdom, not the Freemasons. Yet the debate rages on.

Another popular theory is that the owl is the mascot of the Bohemian Grove, a summer retreat for the elite in powerful in California. This group is really nothing more than a bunch of businesspeople who get together to set aside their concerns and worries about their businesses and bond together in a spirit of togetherness.

The Bohemian Grove was founded in 1872 and was meant to be a spoof of ceremonies, which could explain why their opening ceremonies are so bizarre. The people in the Bohemian Grove have drawn upon many different traditions and ethnic groups rituals and combined them into one.

So what do you think? Is the owl another sign that the Freemasons are more powerful then anyone realizes or do you believe the owl is just how the webbing comes together at that particular point? What about the Bohemian Grove Society? Are they really a group of powerful people who have designs on taking over the country or are another secret society that secretly runs the country? Or are they just a bunch of businesspeople having a two week vacation?

What about the word Mason? Do you think it’s a coincidence or is there something more to this whole theory? What other words and hidden meanings can you find in those letters or have you found something else? We’d love to hear about it.

So What Do All Those Numbers On a Dollar Bill Mean?

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

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dollar bill oneIf you look at a dollar bill you will see a series of numbers called the serial number. The serial number is jam packed with information about that particular dollar bill. Also on the dollar bill you will see a little seal to the left of George Washington with a letter in it. This letter can tell you where the dollar bill was printed.

The Federal Reserve has 12 locations, or districts scattered around the United States. These districts print the money we use, and each district is assigned a letter of the alphabet and a number. This letter and number also make up the first two or three figures in the serial number of the dollar bill.

For example, Boston is A1, New York- B2, Philadelphia-C3, Cleveland-D4, Richmond-E5, Atlanta-F6, Chicago-G7, St. Louis-H-8, Minneapolis-I9, Kansas City-J10, Dallas-K11, and San Francisco-L12.

The last letter of the serial number represents how many times the Bureau of Engraving and Printing have used that particular sequence of serial numbers. A is the first time B is the second, and so on and so on. There is one run for each letter of the alphabet and 32 bills per run, so there are only 832 bills that have the same serial number. Cool huh?!

In the lower right hand area of a dollar bill between George Washington and the signature of the Secretary of Treasury there is a series date. This date represents the year the bill was printed. Sometimes there will be a letter after this date.

There is not a series for every year and the dollar bill is changed for only a few reasons. Either a new Secretary of Treasury is appointed, the design of the bill itself has been changed, or a new Treasurer of the United States is appointed.

If a design change or new Secretary of Treasury is appointed then the year will change. If a new Treasurer is appointed the letter behind the date will change.

To many collectors the serial number is one of the most important things they consider. Some collectors try to find sequential serial numbers, such as 12345678, others look for certain letters, dates, etc.

Do you ever look at the serial numbers on your money for patterns or interesting number combinations? If so, let us know what you’ve found!

How Dollar Bills Are Made

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

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dollar bill madeEver wondered how dollar bills are made? Here’s a brief run through on the intricate process it goes through, but an interesting one nonetheless.

The first step in the making of a dollar bill is the preparation of the master die, an imprinted piece of soft steel, used in the engraving part of the process. The brilliant adroitness and artistry of the engravers is what brings the dollar bills to life, and they do this by skilfully and carefully cutting different portions of the design, such as the portrait, the vignette, the ornamentation, and the lettering, on each master die. This is why, if you put the dollar bill under a magnifying glass, you will observe that it contains copious amounts of fine lines and dots which varies in size and shape. This unique printing technique is known as the intaglio printing. The designs which are featured on the dollar bills are determined by the Secretary of the Treasury and each of this design has its own historical and idealistic significance.

Siderography, a process used to transfer the hand-graved images on the original dies to a printing plate, is next. Upon completion, the dies will then be stored for use in subsequent production processes, as and when it is needed. As soon as that is sorted out, an impression is taken from the master die and the raised image is then cast in plastic. Various plastic images of the different segments of the dollar bill are then prepared, fitted and fused into the required plate formation. This will consists of thirty-two separate sheets. A series of plates are then produced by placing the plastic altos into an electrolytic tank. The plates are then cleaned, polished, and meticulously inspected by an engraver, after which the recessed image plate is made and another piece of the intaglio plate is placed on a printing press.

The dollar bills are then printed on these high-speed rotary presses which spits out over 8,000 sheets per hour. The surface of the notes are slightly raised, with the reverse side indented, to give it a three dimensional effect. The background of the dollar bills are printed in green ink and the faces printed in black, before it is allowed to dry, and this will take for up to 48 hours.

The dollar bills are then scrutinized under a microscope by an examiner, to meet very high standards in quality. Upon satisfactory inspection, it is then ready to be numbered. The Federal Reserve District seal and its corresponding number designations are then overprinted with black ink using a letterpress. Green ink is used to print the Treasury seal and the serial numbers. Guillotine cutters are used to slice the dollar bills into into single stacks of one-hundred notes, which will be packed up into 40 separate units of bricks, each containing 4,000 notes. These are then distributed to Federal Reserve Districts, to be issued to local banks.

There you have it, that’s how your dollar bills are made.

The Great Seal - Is There a Hidden Meaning Behind the Pyramid?

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

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dollar bill pyramidThe pyramid on the back of the Great Seal of the United States has been a subject of controversy for many years. Some people feel that the eye at the top of the pyramid illuminated by light is a symbol of the Freemasons.

The truth of the matter is that Benjamin Franklin, the only Mason on the first committee, had no final say in the design used. Secondly, none of the designers who did the final design were Freemasons. Yet the debate rages on.

Charles Thomson, who was the Secretary of Congress at the time and William Barton, an artist explained the meaning of the pyramid by saying that it signified strength and duration, and that the eye and the motto was to insure favorable status in support of the American cause and represented the constant presence of God.

If you look closely at the top of the pyramid you will see that it sits above the rest of the pyramid not directly on it. This was meant to symbolize that America was far from finished as a country and was beginning it’s journey into the rest of the world independent from the British.

The shadow of the pyramid was meant to mean undiscovered land that lay to the west, and the sun represented that a new country has been born.

The words Annuit Coeptis above the pyramid means “he/it favors the things having been begun” meaning that God has approved the undertaking of the United States of America.

The words Novus Ordo Seclorum on the ribbon below the pyramid are words taken from Virgil, which roughly translate into the words “a new order of the ages”. This is where a lot of people think that the words “new order” represent the Illuminati secret society that is plotting, a new society and a new world order. It is widely believed among scholars however, that the words are meant to mean a new country has been organized.

So are there hidden meanings to the symbols on the Great Seal of the United States? It’s up to you to decide what to believe. Do you think the founding fathers put hidden meanings in the symbols or do you believe they were just trying to symbolize the birth of a new nation? Are you one of the many who believe the Illuminati Society had a hand in the design of the Great Seal of the United States?

Tell us what you think.

Are There Hidden Symbols in the Front of the Great Seal?

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

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dollar bill eagleIf you look at the back of the dollar bill you will see both the front and the back of the Great Seal of the United States.

The front of the seal contains the bald eagle and other symbols. In front of the eagle is a shield which depicts the United States ability to be independent and be on its own. On top of the shield is a blue bar that represents unification of the country by congress.

Above the eagle’s head is 13 stars that represent the original 13 colonies. The number 13 shows up in many places on the seal. For example, there are 13 steps on the pyramid on the back of the seal, 12 stripes at the top of the shield, 13 olive branch leaves, 13 arrows, 13 letters in the words Annuit Coeptis, 12 letters in the words E Pluribus Unum, and 13 berries on the olive branches.

The olive branches clutched tightly in the eagle’s talon represents peace and the arrows in the other talon represents how the original 13 colonies fought for independence.

In the beak of the eagle is a ribbon that has the words “E Pluribus Unum (From, many, one).

The eagle’s head is always turned toward the olive branch on the Great Seal of the United States. This represents the clear desire for peace, but the ability to fight if necessary.

For years scholars, numerologists, and conspiracy theorists have speculated and studied the symbols of the Great Seal of the United States. As for hidden symbols, there really aren’t any. They are all right there in plain sight.

It is not the search for hidden symbols that drive people to spend years researching and studying the dollar bill, it’s the possible hidden meanings behind those symbols. While most scholars agree that the meanings are clear, others believe that secret societies like the Illuminati hid meanings in the symbols as messages and perhaps a forewarning to others.

Other people believe that many of the symbols relate to Freemasons when in actuality Benjamin Franklin was the only Freemason on the committee to design the dollar bill and had no real part in the final design.

What do you think? Do you believe there are hidden meanings behind the symbols on the front of the Great Seal? If so, what do you think those meanings are?