Posts Tagged ‘federal reserve’

The $2 and $100 Bills-The Rarer Currencies

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

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The first two dollar notes were called United States Notes or “Legal Tenders”. They were issued by the Federal Government in 1862, featuring a portrait of the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. In 1869, Thomas Jefferson’s portrait started being used and the same portrait has continued to be used for all two dollar United States Notes and all two dollar Federal Reserve Notes. Monticello was first featured as the vignette on the back of the two dollar United States Note in 1928. Monticello was Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virginia.

In 1976, in celebration of the United States bicentennial, a two dollar Federal Reserve Note was introduced. Thomas Jefferson’s portrait was still on the face but Monticello was replaced on the back by a vignette of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This painting of the Declaration of Independence was painted by John Trumbull. The original portrayed forty-seven people, 42 of whom were signers out of the fifty-six on the Declaration of Independence. Because of a limited amount of space on the two dollar note, five of the forty-seven were left off. The most recent printing of the two dollar note was in 2003 and at this time there are no plans to redesign it.

The first one-hundred dollar notes were also called United States Notes or Legal Tenders. They were issued by the Federal Government in 1862 and they featured a vignette of an American eagle. Benjamin Franklin first had his portrait on the one hundred dollar note in 1914, the first series of these Federal Reserve Notes. The one hundred dollar note is the largest denomination of Federal Reserve Notes that are currently issued in the United States. The life span of a one hundred dollar Federal Reserve Note is 89 months on average. This is much longer than other denominations of currency since this is rarer and circulated less than they are.

In 1996, the one hundred dollar Federal Reserve Note featured large portraits, watermarks and color-shifting ink. The notes also included micro-printing, which is lettering so small that it is hard to replicate, on the front of the note. “USA 100” is written in the numbers located in the lower left corner and “United Sates of America” is in one line on the left lapel of Benjamin Franklin’s coat.

Since 1928, the vignette on the back of the one hundred dollar note has featured an engraving of Independence Hall, the former State House of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Independence Hall is often called the birthplace of our Nation because inside is where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the Constitution of the United States was drafted. It has been said that the man and women in front of the hall close to the building are embracing but there is no record of that. The hands on the clock on the hall are set to 4:10. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation as to why this time was chosen.

Facts About the One Dollar Bill

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

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Did you know:

o that the 1st one dollar notes were issued by the Federal Government in 1862. They featured a portrait of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase?

o that the first use George Washington’s portrait on one dollar notes was on the 1869 United States Notes?

o that the inclusion of “In God We Trust” on all currency was required by law in 1955. It first appeared on paper money in 1957, on one dollar Silver Certificates, and on all Federal Reserve Notes starting in 1963?

o that the first one dollar Federal Reserve Notes were issued in 1963. It had George Washington on the face and the Great Seal on the back? This remains unchanged.

o that of all the notes printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, one dollar notes make up 45% of all currency made?

o that the life span of a one dollar bill is 21 months?

o that the face and back designs of all U.S. paper currency, except the backs of the one and two dollar bills were adopted in 1928?

o that George Washington is on the one dollar bill, Thomas Jefferson is on the $2, Abraham Lincoln is on the $5, Alexander Hamilton is on the $10, Andrew Jackson is on the $20, Ulysses Grant is on the $50, and Benjamin Franklin is on the $100?

o that notes of higher denominations, while no longer produced featured William McKinley on the $500, Grover Cleveland on the $1000, James Madison on the $5000, and Salmon Chase on the $10,000?

o Faceplate Numbers and Letters are the small numbers and letters that can be found in the lower right and upper left corners of a bill?

o In the left corner of the dollar bill is the Note Position Number? This consists of the Note Position Letter and a quadrant number. The Note Position Letter is followed by the Plate Serial Number. This identifies the plate the note was printed from. The Plate Serial Number for the back side of the note is in the lower-right corner.

o that bills that have a small “FW” in the lower right corner on the front of the bill indicate that the bill was printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas?

All of these things contribute to what the dollar is today. You probably haven’t thought much about The Great Seal or the Note Position Letter and Plate Serial Number. If you take a closer look at that dollar in your pocket, you can trace it back to its exact location on the plate it was printed from. It may not be top on your list of things to do when you’re paying for your cup of coffee but someone could certainly track this dollar to its roots if they wanted to. Take a look, you might find something interesting yourself!

The Value of a Dollar-It’s more than just 100 Cents

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

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The value of our dollar depends strongly on the values of the dollars of other countries, exchange rates and interest rates. The interest rate in the United States from the Federal Reserve dropped to 4.75% in September 2007. Other banks around the world did not follow when this happened. This means that the European Central Bank (the home of the euro) has a higher interest rate right now than the Federal Reserve. Basically holding a Euro in your hand would be worth more in interest than holding a dollar in your hand. At this time in the dollar’s life, which would you choose?

Because of this difference in interest rate, other countries around the world are thinking like you and I are. They’re diversifying their holdings from dollars to Eruos and even British pounds for this same reason. In a supply and demand aspect, this situation causes there to be a large supply of dollars making them worth less. This loss in value caused the oil industry to charge higher prices, hence the skyrocket this past summer. Other countries don’t want the dollars they get for oil so they exchange them for Euros. It’s an endless cycle that has only gotten worse, despite understanding the root of the problem.

The dollar dropping is a double edged sword. On one hand, many manufacturers want to produce their products in factories in the United States, bringing us jobs. The reason manufacturers want to bring their factories here because it’s so cheap to run because of the low dollar value yet they can sell them overseas for the value of the Euro. On the other hand, the low dollar causes inflation. We know how bad that can be. Everything becomes more expensive in order to make up for the dollar value going down. Companies still want to make a profit on their goods so the cost of everything rises.

In order to get bonds to sell, they will be cheaper and have higher interest rates. These interest rates correlate to mortgage rates which don’t seem to be dropping anytime soon. Our weak dollar is also scaring away foreign investors who are now afraid to own stock in US companies. Foreign nations who have a lot invested in the dollar have the ability to cause a nuclear financial meltdown for the United States. They could easily exchange their dollars for something else, releasing our money into circulation, causing the value to plummet.

All in all, yes the dollar is worth 20 times less than it was in 1913 but a year or two ago, we knew that and we were used to it. Right now, on top of the 20 times less, it is losing more value in front of our eyes. I’m no one to give financial information but now that you know about the value of the U.S. dollar, just watch what you do with it. Buy and sell carefully because this is a delicate time for our economy.

The History of the Paper Dollar

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

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The Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first of the thirteen colonies to issue permanently circulating banknotes in 1690. The reason behind this was because the paper could be more readily printed and circulated than gold coin. Many of these early bills were marked “Tis Death to Counterfeit.” In the early 1700s, each of the thirteen colonies had issued their own banknotes called “colonial script.” 1789 brought about the First Band of the United States which issued fixed denominations and printed banknotes until 1811 when it closed. From 1816 to 1841, the (you guessed it) Second Bank of the United States took on the responsibilities of printing banknotes.


The civil war, in 1861, needed to be funded with money that there just wasn’t enough of. In 1862, under Abraham Lincoln, the demand notes were issued, taking the place of interest bearing currency. Some necessities were added and changed in the next few years in order to stop counterfeiters. The new “Greenbacks” had an engraved Treasury seal and red and blue fibers in the paper which made them (at the time) very difficult to counterfeit which would cost the banks more money. Gold certificates were also issued against gold coin and bullion and were still in circulation until 1933 as well as silver certificates being issued for silver dollars until 1957. 1865 brought on the need for a Secret Service to police and control counterfeiters. How much was that really needed and how much of the US’s money was counterfeit? Oh only about one-third!


The one dollar United States Note was redesigned with a portrait of George Washington in the center and a vignette of Christopher Columbus. The back of the note also featured green and blue tinting. In 1880 the red floral design was added around the words “One Dollar” and “Washington D.C.” From 1890 to 1899 the gold and silver certificates were redesigned repeatedly in order to continue to make them harder and harder to be counterfeited. In 1910 the Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing took on all currency production functions including engraving, printing and processing. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 created the Federal Reserve System. This means that the Federal Reserve became the central bank, regulating the flow of money. The Federal Reserve also became, to this day, the only authorized entity to issue Federal Reserve Notes (also known as, The Dollar(s)) which are the only U.S. currency produced and 99% of all currency in circulation!


“In God We Trust” No matter your religion, you know this phrase. This phrase was required by Congress in 1955 to be on every piece of currency and to this day, it still is. The last major change that was made was the microprinted security thread which was first introduced in 1990. It started with the $100 bills and the $50 bills, then eventually was introduced into the $20s, $10s, $5s, and $1s. Take a look at the money in your wallet. Now you know part of the long road traveled it took to get there.

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.

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!