Archive for October, 2008

The United States Mint

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

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The United States Mint was established on April 2, 1792, by the Unites States Congress through the Coinageunited states mint Act of 1792. The United States Mint building is said to be the first structure built under the Unites States Constitution and continues to hold this location in Philadelphia, which was also the capital of the republic back then. This historical building was also appropriately called “Ye Olde Mint”. The United States Mint comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury and is fully backed by the Treasurer of the United States.

The first director of the United States Mint was David Rittenhouse, a well renowned American astronomer, inventor, clockmaker, mathematician, surveyor, scientific instrument craftsman, and public official. Henry Voigt, who is credited with some of the first designs on the United States coinage, was employed by the Treasury to be the Mint’s first Superintendent and Chief Coiner. One of the most critical positions at the Mint is that of the Chief Engraver, which was held by such acclaimed men, among others being Frank Gasparro, William Barber, Charles E. Barber, James B. Longacre, Christian Gobrecht, and Anthony C. Paquet. The current director of the Mint is Edmund C. Moy.

The main objective of the United States Mint is to supply sufficient amounts of coinage for ease of trade and commerce in the United States. The Mint currently churns out an average of fifteen billion coins annually. Its other responsibilities include dispensing United States coinage to the Federal Reserve banks and its subsequent divisions, maintaining the physical charge and securing the country’s one hundred billion dollars worth of gold and silver holdings, the minting of proof, uncirculated, commemorative coins, and medals to be sold to public, producing and selling all United States platinum, gold, and silver bullion coins, and last but not least administering its other minting locations in Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; West Point, New York; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and Fort Knox, Kentucky, where the United States Bullion Depository is currently situated. Both the Denver and Philadelphia Mints is known to produce up to 65 million to 80 million coins per-day!

united states mintThere were several other Mints that was set up in the mid-nineteenth century by the Treasury Department which are no longer operational today. These Mints were located in Charlotte, North Carolina; Dahlonega, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Carson City, Nevada, respectively. Some say that apart from the end of the Civil War, these Mints ceased its operations because of the drying up of precious metals like gold and silver, around these areas. Another prominent Mint was set up in Manila, Philippines, in 1920. This is the only US mint established outside of the Continental United States which was in charge of minting coins for the colony, and all coins struck at this mint would bear the M mintmark, for Manila. The Manila Mint closed down in 1941, during the initial stages of the second World War.

Today, the United States Mint receives more than one billion dollars in revenues, each year, and as a self-financed organization, its net profits are handed over to the General Fund of the Treasury. The Mint prides itself in propagating world-class business practices in producing, selling, and protecting the coinage and assets of the United States of America.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

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The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is currently the largest and only producer of all legal tender United bureau engraving printingStates currency today. It prints billions of Federal Reserve Notes every year and delivers them to the designated Federal Reserve Banks, to be issued and circulated accordingly. These Federal Reserve Notes are produced at two of its current facilities located in Washington D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas. Tours are offered to the public at these buildings and it showcases the various steps of United States currency production. The tour usually begins with the process of sorting out the large sheets of blank currency papers, closely followed by the intricate methods of getting the dyes ready, to the actual printing procedures itself, and ending with the ready to be spent dollar bills.

Apart from currency production, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing also plays an important role in advising other Federal managed agencies on document security matters. It also processes claims for the redemption of all United States currency that have been mutilated. It prides itself in its continuous effort in the research and development area which focuses on the continued use of state-of-the-art automation and counterfeit prevention technologies for use in the production of United States currency, further guaranteeing its integrity.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing began its operation in the United States Treasury building back in 1862, resulting from a legislation which was enacted to help fund the Civil War. This legislation authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to issue paper currency in lieu of coins, largely because of the slowly diminishing funds that was desperately needed to sponsor the war. Before long, in 1877, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was entrusted with the sole responsibility of producing all United States paper currency.

Prior to this, a private firm produced Demand Notes in sheets of four, and these sheets were then sent to the Treasury Department where dozens of clerks signed the notes, with another multitude of workers cutting the sheets and trimming it down by hand. This process eventually became mechanized and was moved down to the building’s basement, giving birth to the Bureau, an important umbrella of the Treasury which proved to be efficient as well as practical.

Before it was officially recognized in congress and was given specific allocations of operating funds through various legislations, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in prior to the year 1875, was more commonly known as First Division of National Currency Bureau. Other of its failed labels include, Printing Bureau, Small Notes Bureau, Currency Department, and Small Notes Room.

Apart from printing currency, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is also given the task to produce revenue stamps, treasury securities, military commissions, award certificates, invitations and admission cards, different types of identification cards, passports, forms, and other special security documents for a variety of Government agencies. This additional responsibilities which was taken on by the Bureau beginning 1894, established it as the nation’s pioneer security documents printer which responds in like to the United States Government, both in times of peace and war.

The New and Enhanced Five Dollar Bill

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

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On March 2008, the newer, safer, smarter, and more secure five dollar bills were produced and put into new 5 dollar billcirculation. These notes is said to be so advanced that its much harder to forge and almost impossible to reproduce. So smart is the new five dollar bill that counterfeiters find it grueling to keep up with its technology. Two of the most important security features, that were first introduced in the 1990’s, are retained on the newly designed five dollar bill, which makes it so much easier to inspect. These features are the tried and tested watermark and the security thread.

The watermarks on the redesigned five dollar bill comprise of a large number five located to the right of the portrait and a column of three smaller fives which is positioned to its left. The large number five watermark actually replaces the previous watermark portrait of President Lincoln found on the older five dollar bills. These two new enhanced watermarks can easily be seen by holding the notes up to the light.

As for the security thread of the new five dollar bills, these have been moved to the right of the portrait, compared to the older version which is located to the left. The number five, as well as the words “USA”, alternates the visible pattern along the threads from either sides of these notes. When held under an ultraviolet light, this embedded security thread will turn a shade of blue glow. Like the watermarks, the security thread can also clearly be seen when held up to a light source.

Newer enhanced portraits and historical images also grace the new five dollar bills. Apart from making counterfeiting more difficult to achieve, these new notes also include other features that aids in telling the different denominations apart, particularly for people who are visually impaired.

New colors have also been added to these notes to make life just that much harder for currency forgers. The most noticeable difference is the addition of a shade of purple around the center of these bills, which slowly blends into a greyer shade when it nears the edges. The numbers “05” is also added to the left of the portrait on the front of the bill, as well as the right of the Lincoln Memorial vignette on its reverse side.

new 5 dollar billsOther prominent changes were also made to the new five dollar bills and these include the Symbol of Freedom on the background of the bills, an altered portrait of President Abraham Lincoln, a redesigned vignette of the Lincoln Memorial, micro-printing of the words “FIVE DOLLARS,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” “USA,” and “USA FIVE,” enhanced Federal Reserve indicators, and the relocation of the serial numbers.

Because United States currency is widely circulated and used around the world, public awareness efforts have been initiated by the government to properly introduce these new notes, its sole aim being to educate the public on the various changes, how to properly utilize the security features, and steps that can be taken to further authenticate the bills. Hopefully this exercise will prove effective in ensuring the smooth transition of the new five dollar bills into the financial market. Interestingly, given all these added features and complex designs, the new five dollar bills will continue to be easily recognized globally as essentially American.

The Legendary 100 Dollar Bill

Friday, October 24th, 2008

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Currently, the largest denomination of all Unites States currency, which remains of legal tender, is the one
100 dollar billhundred dollar bill. These bills have been in full circulation since 1969 following the termination of the larger five hundred dollar, one thousand dollar, five thousand dollar, ten thousand dollar, and one hundred thousand dollar denominations. One hundred dollar bills are said to comprise of up to 7 percent of all United States currency produced today.

Delivered by the Federal Reserve Banks in mustard-colored strips, the average life span of the current one hundred dollar bill in circulation, according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, is approximately five years or sixty months, before it succumbs to general wear and tear.

The obverse side of the one hundred dollar bill features the famous inventor, diplomat, and U.S. statesman Benjamin Franklin. The bill is also one of two of United States legal tender denominations today which does not feature a President of the United States of America. The other note is the ten dollar bill, which depicts the image of Alexander Hamilton, the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

The reverse side of the one hundred dollar bill is printed with the illustration of the United Sates Independence Hall. Interestingly, the clock on the building appears to show the time of 2:22 or 2:23, although some currency enthusiasts argues that its actually showing 4:10 instead. Another inconsistency is the numeral four on the clock face which is written as “IV”, whereas the real Unites States Independence Hall shows “IIII” instead.

The first one hundred dollar bill was issued in 1862 as a large sized United States Note, and featured the Bald Eagle on the left side of the obverse. Before showcasing Benjamin Franklin on the Federal Reserve Note in 1914, the one hundred dollar bills produced in prior to that year featured other prominent figures such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and even James Monroe.

In 1928, the smaller standardized sized one hundred dollar bills began its circulation. These smaller bills were also made out to be consistent in design, making all variations of the one hundred dollar bills from then on to carry the same portrait of Benjamin Franklin, the exact border designs on the obverse and reverse, and the vignette of the United States Independence Hall.

Some of the many nicknames one hundred dollar bills have been given are a “Benjamin,” a “Benjie,” a “Frank” or “Franklin”, a “C-note”, a “Century Note”, a “bill”, a “Big-face”, a “Large”, a “Charlie”, and even a “Big one”.

Late in 2008, newer and more secure one hundred dollar bills with enhanced designs and features are expected to be released. One of the state-of-the-art fixture that will grace these notes is the new Crane & Company security feature called Motion™, which consist of up to 650 thousand micro-lenses, which are embedded in the notes during the printing process. This will allow for selected images on the one hundred dollar bill to shift when the note is seen at a certain angle, making it almost impossible for counterfeiters to replicate.

EuroTraq - European Currency Trackers

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

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EuroTraq (www.eurotraq.com) is a multi-purpose website with the objective of finding out, in eurotraqchronological order, where a particular Euro bill has been and who it used to belong to, as the banknote continues to travel great distances around the globe. EuroTraq not only collects this information for fun, but also for statistical reports on the dissemination of the Euro, which depending on the subject matter, can be very telling.

The site was launched to the public on April 12, 2002, after months of rigorous planning and preparations. Since then, more features and application have been added to the site by its developers for more functionality and ease of use, making the site very user friendly.

Due to the fact that EuroTraq has had such an international presence since its launch, the developers have registered the site under numerous domain names, and these includes: www.eurotraq.info, www.eurotraq.nl, www.eurotraq.com, www.eurotraq.net, www.eurotraq.org, www.eurotraq.biz, www.eurotraq.be, www.eurotraq.de, www.eurotraq.at, www.eurotraq.it, www.eurotraq.ch, and www.eurotraq.li.

According to the site, the serial numbers on a Euro bill are made up of one capital letter followed by eleven digits. Euro bills are not always printed in the same country that issues them into circulation, which thanks to the inception of the European Union, made this a possibility. Like the US dollar, each serial number on the Euro bill is distinctive in nature, which means that there are no two notes which are exactly alike. EuroTraq uses these serial numbers to locate these banknotes and will map out, in the form of statistics, graphs, and reports, the course of its journey as it travels the globe.

The site also informs its users that the letters on the serial numbers stands for the country of issue, and in alphabetical order, notes with the letter L are said to come from Finland, the letter M from Portugal, the letter N from Austria, the letter P from Netherlands, the letter R from Luxembourg, the letter S from Italy, the letter T from Ireland, the letter U from France, the letter V from Spain, the letter X from Germany, the letter Y from Greece, and those printed with the letter Z are from Belgium.

eurotraq euro billsEuroTraq encourages its users to continue supporting the site by registering as many banknotes as they possibly can. The site also urges it users to include the website address on the notes they wish to track before spending them. Although, unlike other currency tracking sites which approves the use of ink-stamps and penned messages, EuroTraq requests that its user mark the bills using a pencil instead, as to not propagate any legal issues. This is also largely because it is against the law to permanently mark banknotes in Europe.

For users who has large amount of banknotes to enter, the site also provides a mass input page, which is a special page that users can input large amounts of serial numbers at one go, making it so much easier compared to refreshing the single entry page over and over again.

EuroTraq currently has over 44 thousand bill entries and the total value of bills tracked to date is reaching almost a million Euros! According to its statistics page, a EUR 5 banknote was tracked on the site a record 42 times!

The Canadian Money Tracker - Canadian Dollar Tracking Website

Friday, October 17th, 2008

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Canadian Money Tracker (www.cdn-money.ca), is one of the top Canadian currency tracking website canadian money trackeravailable today. Like all other tracking websites, the Canadian Money Tracker site is all about their currency, the Canadian Dollar, and where in the country has the currency travelled to, or better still, which countries have the money settled in. When you enter in the information required to track a note, the system saves all the information in its database and a hit occurs when someone else subsequently enters the same banknote information again, and the entire journey, if any, of that particular bank note in question, will be mapped out before your very eyes!

Registration on the site is absolutely free and some of the benefits users enjoy are ‘hit’ e-mail notifications, forum participation, weekly activity reports, and competing in the Canadian Money Tracker’s Top 10 List.

The site was created by Douglas Robertson in 1999, just for fun. He was also interested in experimenting with the then new and upcoming Java Servlets. The site has since garnered such an encouraging interest amongst currency trackers that Mr Robertson decided to maintain the site, and because of sheer fascination, he has since added additional applications and features to make the experience of tracking Canadian currency more enjoyable.

The site ensures privacy and security of it users by not making it mandatory for them to give unnecessary information out. All the site requires is a name and an e-mail address, for verification purposes. The e-mail information is necessary so the site can send its users ‘hit’ notifications, and these e-mail addresses are kept anonymous, as a feature, so user information will not be compromised.

The Canadian Money Tracker website also rates user level by how active they are on the site. The user level also determines how many notes each user is allowed to enter per-day on the site, as well as special privileges. The levels used to categorize a user are newbie, interested newbie, dedicated newbie, senior newbie, junior user, user, regular user, dedicated user, senior user, tracker, regular tracker, dedicated tracker, senior tracker, master tracker, and Superior Tracker.

canadian dollarUser who makes significant contributions to the site are also honored by the site administrator by naming them ‘Evangelists’. These evangelist assist in the development of the site in many ways, which include, finding bugs in new versions, offering advice to new users or visitors, and even being very active on the site. The same criteria applies to all ‘Evangelist’ wanting to reach the various user levels on the site though.

Users on the site are also encouraged to create profiles, although this is not mandatory. User profiles adds a different dimension to the whole experience of tracking notes, it helps users to get to know each other better and share exciting and fun currency stories. Some users have been known to go the extra mile into making their profiles unique and interesting to read.

So far the amount of users that have been registered on the site exceeds over 49 thousand people. The site has had a little more than 131 thousand hits so far and the number of notes that have been entered since it launch is faring well above the 1.6 million mark.

Tips For Effective Currency Tracking

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

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Tired of waiting a long time before you get a hit on the banknotes that you’ve been tracking online? Or evencurrency tracking more frustrating, have you never had any of your bills ever trigger a hit, that made you lose interest in the hobby altogether? Fret no more because here’s some tips and hints on how you can maximize your dollar bill tracking experience, and take the hobby to a whole new level you never thought possible.

To effectively improve the probability you attaining a hit, try spending your dollar bills in places with a higher turnaround of transactions, in locations where more people are more likely to receive the banknotes you’re tracking as change. Look out for supermarkets, affordable eateries, gas stations, or your local convenient store and coffee shops, as opposed to vending machines or high-end merchants where people usually pay for goods with their credit cards.

The more likely the chances are of your one dollar or five dollar bills end up as change for the person standing behind you in line in any of these places, the higher the odds are of your bills ending up on the currency tracking website of your choice. Also, pay attention to the time of the day that you’re spending your dollar bill. Try to avoid spending your banknotes just before store closing-time, because your dollar bills are more likely to be stored inside a safe for weeks, or end up in the cash deposit machine at the bank.

Currency tracking experts also suggest that you don’t splurge all your money in one location. You want to diversify the places that your dollar bills are spent in, especially the smaller denominations. Carry as much of those one dollar and five dollar bills that you wish to track as you can, as this will increase the probability of it spreading out and being distributed to all sorts of people, that might spend it again, and again. This gives your banknotes more mileage and it also broadens the likely-hood of your dollar bills ending up in somewhere interesting, probably a different country.

Some currency tracking aficionados also swears-by the technique of marking your dollar bills. You can try hand-writing a short message by requesting the subsequent owners of your dollar bills to visit the currency tracking website that you’re on. If you’re looking at tracking large numbers of notes, then using a small ink-stamp would make more sense. Some people also just simply circle the serial and series numbers and cleverly include the website address around the edge of the dollar bill, without making it too obvious.
But be careful, since the administrators of TrackDollarBills.com are prohibiting such a method you may be banned !

Patience is paramount. Don’t be disheartened or lose interest just because you don’t see a hit within a couple of days or weeks. Some hobbyist will enter over a thousand bills before they see a hit, while others receives a hit within a couple of hours. With a little luck and some persistence, tracking your dollar bill will eventually become a frequent past time that you’ll enjoy indulging in.

Currency Tracking Websites

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

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Ever wondered where the money in your pockets have been, or where it goes to after you’ve spent it. Wonderaustralian currency no more as currency tracking websites, like our very own TrackDollarBills, have been emerging at a steady rate all over the internet. Currency bill tracking is a phenomenon which is catching on fast and its expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. As so, dozens of currency tracking sites have been set up all around the world to help facilitate this popular hobby. Generally, what a currency tracking website does is aid in the process of tracking the movements of banknotes as it travels from hand to hand, state to state, region to region, and country to country. Of course, extensive website user participation is vital. This, not only has made the concept a possibility, but its now become such an interesting activity to pursue, making it a fun and exciting way to past time.

Basically, users will begin the tour of mapping out the voyage of the bill in interest by registering it on their respective currency tracking sites. They do this by registering the serial numbers of the banknotes that they wish to track, and the route or journey of the bill will be displayed in the form of graphs, statistics, and various other reports. These information will then be notified to all subsequent or past users, each time the same serial number is entered again on the system. The sites primarily provides users with information like the time between each entry of a duplicate dollar bill, the distance the bill travelled, as well as any comments or remarks that a user may want to include regarding that specific note.

Depending on the laws of the countries issuing the currencies, some of these tracking sites actually encourages its users to slightly mark the notes they wish to track, before spending it. This practice, of course, has created many controversies and unwanted attention from the authorities, as its considered as tempering or defacing the currency.

Apart from TrackDollarBills, some of the other international leading websites for currency bill tracking are EuroBillTracker, EuroTracer, and MyEuroBill, all of which tracks the Euro currency. Others include WheresWilly and CanadianMoneyTracker for the Canadian Dollar, MoneyTracker for the Australian Dollar, CashFollow for the Swiss Franc, SEK-Tracker and Sedlarna for the Swedish Kronor, FindLizzy and CashPath for the Pound Sterling, WheresMyBucks for the South African Rand, WheresRenminbi for the Chinese Yuan, TrackGandhi for the Indian Rupee, and WhereIsYusof for the Singapore Dollar.

south africa currencyMost of these sites are administered by specific groups or non-profit organizations, and its day to day operations are supported primarily by volunteers and users who help populate the sites with content, either through the forums, chats, blogs, email support, and various other tasks. These currency tracking sites are usually free to use but some sites do charge a fee for extra features.

To date, these currency tracking sites would have registered and tracked down billions of dollars worth of currency and over a million users, worldwide. The establishment of these currency tracking websites have also inspired other sites that tracks exclusive objects such as used books and even statistical patterns of human travel!

The Confederate States of America Dollar

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

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confederate states of america dollarTwo months after the formation of the Confederacy, the Confederate States of America Dollar was born, adding color to the already illustrious history of the United States currency . First issued in 1861, on the eve of the Civil War, these dollar bills lasted throughout the infamous conflict and became worthless by the end of it.

The Confederate States of America Dollars came in denominations of $1/10, $½, $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1,000. Its type and designs came in 72 separate varieties and within almost 5 years of its lifespan, was produced in seven different phases of series, ranging from 1861 to 1865. The currency also had numerous issuers and redeemable obligations. Under the multiple acts of the Confederate Congress, it is said that the total amount of the currency produced throughout this period totaled close to $1.7 billion.

The Confederate States of America Dollars, or CSA notes, was initially well received as means of trade with great buying capabilities. This didn’t last long as the war progressed though, resulting in diminished confidence in the currency. The amount of paper currency production began to increase and its redemption dates extended, depreciating the currency even further, and ultimately increasing inflation. It was said that a bar of soap during the time cost as much as $50, while an ordinary suit would be priced at $2700! By the end of the war, and probably caused by the Confederacy failure to remain intact, the currency became obsolete and was no longer considered as fiat money.

Counterfeiting was a huge concern with the CSA notes as well, due to its immense numbers and assortments. This was also largely attributed to the fact that all of the confederate states and banks were given the liberty to print and issue their own notes as and when it pleases. Interestingly enough, many of these existing forgeries remains valuable to collectors today.

The mass counterfeit of the Confederate States of America Dollars is also said to be credited to the lack of skilled engravers and printers, as well as secure printing facilities. This resulted in a lot of extraneous designs, such as mythological gods and goddesses, with southern themes like the depictions of African-American slaves smiling or happily going about their work, naval ships, and historical figures. Later issues pictured prominent Southern politicians, military leaders, and citizens.

This lack in quality was also narrowed down to more ancient printing processes, as most modern printing equipments and skilled engravers were only found up North, forcing the Southern printers to use lithographic processed scenes and offset lifting of the printing plates, to produce these notes instead.

confederate states of americaThe signatures on this currency was also not printed-on but hand-signed by the Register and Treasurer themselves, and although this practice is considered as an anti-counterfeiting method, large numbers of clerks were hired to eventually sign on behalf of the Register and Treasurer, respectively.

Surprisingly, albeit the shortage in precious metal, the Confederate States of America did manage to mint its own coinage. In 1861, one cent coin pieces were struck using nickel, with the Liberty Head design on the obverse. The Confederacy also did strike half dollar coins at the New Orleans Mint, although this fact eluded authorities until 1879, and 504 pieces of these coins were said to be minted during this period in time.

The Gold Certificate

Friday, October 10th, 2008

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gold certificate First issued in mid-1860’s, and actively used between the years 1882 and 1933, the Gold Certificate was issued as a form of paper currency here in the United States. Generally, a gold certificate acts like a certificate of ownership that gold owners hold instead of actual gold.

Because of the fact that the Gold Certificate was a type of paper currency intended to represent actual gold coinage, the practice of its redemption for the precious metal was ceased in 1933 by the United States Government, and until 1964 it was actually deemed illegal for anyone to possess these notes. This prohibition was lifted in 1964 though, as to allow currency collectors to legally own it. This resulted in the issue being converted to the standard legal tender, without its initial correlation to gold.

The issuance of the Gold Certificate was actually officially discontinued in 1928, before the termination of the Gold Standard by the United States Government in 1933, ultimately ceasing its circulation altogether. The permanent suspension was also largely due to the public’s fear that the notes would become obsolete and invaluable over time.

The Gold Certificate was approved under the Act of March 3, 1963, which is also the same act authorizing the issuance of the United States Notes. The actual year of print is said to vary between the years 1963 and 1965. This was probably because it doesn’t carry a printed series date, as this information was hand-dated upon issue. It is also said that the first few series of the Gold Certificate had the identification of each gold depositor, in lieu of payment.

The first issues of the Gold Certificate has a vignette of an eagle, and this was evenly featured on all the denominations it comes in. Later issues, like series 1870, 1871 and 1875, had depictions of various historical figured printed on it, with abstract designs featured on its reverse.

With the exception of Series 1888, 1900, and 1934, which was only issued to specified gold depositors, Gold Certificates from Series of 1882 and onwards was made payable to the bearer, making it transferable and redeemable for its equivalent value in gold.

Just like all other United States currency, the Gold Certificate was produced in two sizes; large and small. The larger sized Gold Certificates were put into circulation between the years 1865 and 1928, and the smaller sized ones between the years 1928 and 1934. The reverse side of all these notes were printed in orange, with the exception of the 1928 series, which were in green and more similar to the Federal Reserve Notes in design.

Along with the $5000 and $10000 notes from the Series of 1888, all of the notes from Series of 1900 have been redeemed and no longer carries the legal tender status. Most of these notes have already been destroyed, and the remaining, which was at kept in a box in a post office near the United States Treasury in Washington D.C., during that time, has a tale with an interesting twist to it. It was said that during a fire in late 1935, employees of this post office threw burning boxes out into the streets, including the box containing the only remaining notes of series 1900. This box was said to have burst open and it contents snatched up by the surrounding people gathered near the building. Unfortunately though, these notes were already deemed worthless at that time. Today, this series of Gold Certificates carries only a few hundred in numismatic value amongst collectors.

EuroBillTracker – The leading Euro Bank Note Tracking Website

Friday, October 10th, 2008

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eurobilltrackerThe EuroBillTracker website has been tracking Euro banknotes circulating the globe since early 2002. Said to be inspired by the Where’s George website of the United States, the site was created by Philippe Girolami and managed by an international non-profit team. The growth of the site is credited to active users who take care of the forums, translate the site, provide email support, and handle various other tasks. This free to use website is developed with the sole purpose of tracking Euro banknotes as it travels around the globe.

Basically, what the site does is extract various disseminated information by generating graphs and statistics, ultimately notifying its users as the Euro currency makes its way around the world. It also literally tracks Euro banknotes by informing a user who originally enters a banknote information into the system and subsequent users with the same banknote information, by email, on its whereabouts, at any given time. It also statistically ranks various other related details such as the most number of notes entered by a user, best countries in term of frequency of tracking, as well as which countries are the notes most settled in.

Typically, a user enters information of their Euro banknotes on the site and if a note is already registered, the user is notified immediately on its historic whereabouts, and anytime that particular note is entered again on the system, an email notification will be sent to whoever that has entered the information of that particular note - past, present and future. Currently, more than 46000 notes are registered, on an average, at the website every day, and since its launch, a little more than 50 million notes have been tracked.

Due to its popularity, a community of trackers, from the higher volume tracking countries, was started up to help support the site, especially in the Benelux countries, Finland, and Slovenia. Ironically, the number of users from the more populated nations such as France, Spain, and Ireland have been low.

This community has also been organizing annual pan-European meetings since 2004, and in August 2008, a conference was held in Ljubljana, to discuss its bright future. Due to its success, it is now consented that a new pan-European meeting be held every six months. Apart from these yearly international engagements, local national gatherings at various levels have also been organized in support of its effort.

Currently, the website is said to be administered by a non-profit organization called The European Society for EuroBillTrackers, which has its headquarters in Belgium. This outfit was said to have stemmed from a principal disagreement with the founders and webmasters of the site, causing a split of the EuroBillTracker website late in 2007, but was later integrated back into a single site in January 2008.

To date, the number of users registered on the site have exceeded over 130000, and the total value of all Euro banknotes entered so far is well over the billion mark, a very encouraging statistic indeed. Here’s to wishing the same success for our site here at TrackDollarBills :)

National Bank Notes

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

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national bank noteInitiated by the National Banking Act of 1863, and issued through banks that were bonded by the Unites States Government, National Bank Notes were one of the more controversial United States paper currencies in history. It is said that the involvement of the United States Government in securing these banknotes was due to several factors, amongst them being its self interest to help raise money for the Treasury during the Civil War, as well as a possible political debt that the Republican Party owed to its Whig and Federalist Party antecedents. This exploit, although politically impracticable during that time, was said to be made possible by the establishment of the said National Banking Act of 1863.

Before issuing these notes, the selected federal chartered banks were required to first deposit equally valued United States Bonds or Securities with the United States Treasury as a form of collateral. This was probably because before federal banknotes were more commonly used, local banks would issue their own banknotes which was secured by nothing but their own goodwill, making it somewhat unreliable. The value of National Bank Notes, however, would still remain in case the issuing banks fails or even if the banking system becomes solvent, due to the fact that its value was somewhat guaranteed by the United States Treasury.

Also known as the National Currency, National Bank Notes were also introduced in the effort to assist local banks create a much newer and profitable system of distributing banknotes. These Federal Banks, or also known as National Banks, would print up banknotes up to ninety percent of the value of the United States Bonds or Securities they have in holding with the United States Treasury. The masses trusted these federal guaranteed banknotes better because of the lower exposure towards unforeseeable liabilities it proposes. This practice also helped guard the public against fraudulent and badly managed banks, whose banknotes might become valueless.

National Bank Notes had a very identical appearance to the paper currencies which were produced between the years 1929 and 1990’s, although they carried some distinctive characteristics. One of the most obvious difference is the names, towns, and states of the federal banks that these banknotes were issued from, which were printed on the notes itself, as well as the signatures of the respective bank’s presidents and cashiers.

In view of the fact that National Bank Notes were not completely backed by gold, the contract, like that of United States Notes, declared that they were not for the payment of duties on imports or interest on the public debt.

The reign of these National Bank Notes were short-lived though, as the United States Government ceased its circulation during the great depression, in the early 1930’s. This was probably due to the panic withdrawals of deposits by a lot of people who lost confidence in the local banks at that time.

Today, National Bank Notes are religiously collected by currency hobbyist all around the world, especially those in the United States, where these notes are fastidiously studied and kept, often fetching high value amongst enthusiasts.

Coins of the US Dollar

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

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dollar coinsThe United States coinage have come a long way and has earned a permanent place in the nation’s currency system. These coins have been produced every year since 1792, when it was first minted by the new republic. Today these coins are churned out by the United States Mint and distributed to the Federal Reserve Banks for regulation as required by the financial systems. Denominations of the US coinage which is still in circulation today are 1 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 25 cent, 50 cent, and one dollar.

The four US Mints that operates today in the United States, producing billions of coins annually, are the Philadelphia Mint which produces circulating coinage, mint sets and some commemorative coins, the San Francisco Mint which produces regular and silver proof coinage, the West Point Mint which produces bullion coinage as well as proofs, and the Denver Mint which like the Philadelphia Mint also produces circulating coinage, mint sets and commemorative coins. The Philadelphia and Denver Mints produces the dies used at all of these mints respectively.

To identify the mint on a coin, all one has to do is look at the mint mark imprinted on the front side of it. This is usually in the form of a letter, for example, the P is assigned to Philadelphia coins, the letter D to Denver coins, S for San Francisco coins, and W for West Point. The Philadelphia Mint also produces unmarked coins. It is also acknowledged that coins bearing the letter S and W are ever hardly found in circulation anymore, with the exception of some S series that was minted before mid-1970’s. Coins bearing the letters CC was also produced for a period of time, although short lived. These coins were said to have originated from a temporary mint in Carson City, Nevada, but can only be found in museums and private collections these days.

The current copper plated zinc core cents of today are the result of a change in its mass and composition in 1982. In 1943, cents minted were struck on planchets punched from zinc coated steel. These steel pennies, as it was more commonly known as, would rust quite easily due to the oxidation of the steel coats, and was later discontinued and destroyed. Nickels minted from the years 1942 through 1945, during World War II, were made out of 56 percent copper, 35 percent silver, and 9 percent manganese. This new composition would mean that the metal that was once used to coat these coins can now be put to better use, like manufacturing military supplies to help aid the war.

Prior to 1965, some of the other makes of US coinage included large amount of silver and copper in its composition. These coins are no longer produced or circulated today, thanks to the Coinage Act of 1965. It is estimated that most American prefer using coins in the form of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, as opposed to dollar coins such as the Kennedy half-dollar coin, Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, and the Sacagawea dollar coin.

Bullion coins have been produced since the year 1986 and remains uncirculated to date. Since 1997, these bullion coins, such as the American Eagle and the American Buffalo, can be found in silver, gold, and platinum versions. Other types of coins that have been minted to date are the modern commemorative coins, such as the half dollar and the half eagle, which have been minted since 1982.

Not surprisingly, numerous coins that have been struck throughout history have also gone obsolete today. These are the half cent, large cent, two-cent piece, three-cent piece, half dime, twenty-cent piece, silver dollar, gold dollar, quarter-eagle, three-dollar piece, Stella, half-eagle, eagle, double eagle, and the half-union. These coins, however, remains of high face value to collectors all around the globe.

The Super Dollar

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

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money counterfeitSuper Dollars are the most perfect counterfeit of the US paper currency in recent history. The forgery of these super dollars, or also widely known as super notes, is so shrouded in controversy and mystery, that the identity of the organization or government involved remains unknown until today, although this did little in preventing all sorts of rumors and buzz being speculated on the matter. The term “super” probably derived from the the fact that the technology engaged in producing these notes is without doubt, state-of-the-art. Super dollars are also officially known as PN-14342, a categorization order originating from the US Secret Service.

The United States Government, at one stage, alleged that North Korea may have something to do with producing these super notes. Many also say that this lucid operation was stemming out from countries like Iran, China, and Russia. The most controversial theory to date, though, is the possibility of direct CIA involvement.

North Korea’s alleged involvement brewed from several North Korean renegades who revealed the account of this underground operation, as suspicious as their stories were, in thorough detail. Some have accused these defectors of sabotage and that these nonsensical fabrications were inspired by nothing but money. It was also alleged that the distribution process of these super dollars was piped and networked through international crime syndicates and more shockingly, some of the North Korean diplomats themselves. So serious were these allegations that the US, at one point, was threatening a separate sanction from the existing nuclear one, against North Korea, before the entire issue was dropped altogether.

This serious claim took a major hit in early 2007 conversely, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily, disputed the North Korean charge and shifted the heat back to the US by asserting otherwise. According to them, their research showed that the real masterminds behind the super dollars is no other than the CIA itself, through a secret printing facility close to Washington state. According to the newspaper, these super dollars, which are being used to facilitate secret CIA operations, was what US intelligence desperately needed, as they are not subject to congressional approvals or scrutiny, ultimately giving the CIA power to do as it well please. An expert on counterfeiting also alleges that the super dollar is so superior in quality that only an outfit like the CIA is capable of orchestrating such a feat.

More and more accusations have spawned since and as ludicrous as some of these allegations may be, the one thing that everyone agrees on is the ingenuity of the forgery itself. The main reason why the super dollar is so intelligible is because it is designed with its security features in mind. The forgers behind the super dollar knew that essentials like the red and blue security fibers, the security thread, and the watermark are the most important characteristic of the currency that they must first master to counterfeit, apart from using the highest quality of paper and ink. Such intricacy goes into recreating these notes that even experts need to put it through rigorous inspections before deeming it as bogus money. It is also acknowledged that these super dollars are produced using the intaglio and typographic printing processes, just as the originals. It is said that in every 10,000 dollar notes circulating internationally, one is a super dollar.

Federal Reserve Notes vs. United States Notes

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

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united states notesProduced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and issued by the 12 Federal Reserve Banks of the Unites States of America in accordance to the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, the Federal Reserve Notes are one of two remaining US paper currency in circulation which are off legal tender today.

Before obtaining the notes, the Federal Reserve Bank must first prove that it owns equal amounts of collateral in value as a guarantee. These are usually in the form of gold certificates, US securities, and other physical assets. This requirement, which was motioned by the United States Congress, is to ascertain that in case of the dissolution of the Federal Reserve System, the liabilities of these notes can be transferred and managed by the United States Government, after first attaining the warranted assets and collateral of the Federal Reserve Banks.

Being first printed in 1914, the Federal Reserve Notes of today are not exchangeable for any form of commodities, even gold and silver, and aren’t secured by anything either. This wasn’t always the case though, as it was redeemable for silver before the year 1964, and gold before the year 1933, both these years being the end of the silver and gold standards respectively. Today, in exception of what the notes will or can buy, it has no obligated value by itself. In simple terms, the Federal Reserve Notes will only buy you all the goods and services backed by the nations economy, a term also known as fiat currency.

Federal Reserve Notes are distributed to commercial banks belonging to the Federal Reserve System, and are issued by the Federal Reserve Banks as and when requested. In order to pay for the Federal Reserve Notes in full, these commercial banks are required to first draw down their accounts with the Federal Reserve Banks in their respective districts.

The other US paper currency which remains as legal tender today are the United States Notes, even though it is no longer placed in circulation since its issuance was discontinued in January 21, 1971, making it obsolete. The United States Notes, interestingly, was also the first paper currency issued in the United States of America, making its debut during the Civil War after it was approved by the Legal Tender Act of 1862.

federal reserve notesThe United States Notes was issued directly by The Treasury Department, under the watchful eyes of the Unites States Government. It was limited to an amount of only $300 million in circulation at any given time, an insignificant figure these days but a magnanimous sum during the Civil War. In prior to the year 1964, the United States Notes, like the Federal Reserve Notes, was also commonly exchanged for silver and gold.

The most significant difference between a United States Note and a Federal Reserve Note is that a United States Note was reassigned into circulation free of interest, or as a bill of credit, whereas the Federal Reserve Note will generate interest to banks and stockholders. These stockholders will then act as a lending agent between the Government and the people.

Another difference between these two types currencies is that the treasury seal and the serial numbers on the United States Notes are printed in red, while these features appears in green on the Federal Reserve Notes. The United States Notes have also been credited with originating the term “Greenback”, as the currency was first printed in a distinctive green reverse, giving birth to the famous moniker that US dollar bill is today known as.