Fun Facts About Money
By the end of the Civil War, between
one-third and one-half of all U.S. paper currency in circulation was counterfeit.
On July 5, 1865, the Secret Service was created under the U.S. Treasury
Department. In less than a decade, counterfeiting was sharply reduced.
In the past ten years the breakdown of denominations counterfeited has
changed dramatically. The total of known $50 and $100 notes counterfeited
has increased by sixty percent. The total number of fifty and one hundred
dollar notes passed and seized in 1980 was 777,957. The total number of
fifty and one hundred dollar notes passed and seized in 1990 was 1,240,840.
In 1990, thirty-six percent of the dollar value of known counterfeit currency
passed in the U.S. was produced overseas, particularly in Colombia, Italy,
Hong Kong, the Philippines and Bangkok. One hundred and thirty-nine domestic
counterfeit operations and eighteen foreign counterfeit operations were
suppressed in 1990.
History of Paper Money
1690 - The Massachusetts
Bay Colony issued the first paper money in the colonies which would later
form the United States.
1775 - American colonists issued paper currency for the Continental
Congress to finance the Revolutionary War. The notes were backed by the
"anticipation" of tax revenues. Without solid backing and easily
counterfeited, the notes quickly became devalued, giving rise to the phrase
"not worth a continental."
1781 - To support the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress
chartered the Bank of North America in Philadelphia as the nation's first
1791 - After adoption of the Constitution in 1789, Congress
chartered the first Bank of the United States until 1811 and authorized
it to issue paper bank notes to eliminate confusion and simplify trade.
The bank served as the U.S. Treasury's fiscal agent, thus performing the
first central bank functions.
1861 - On the brink of bankruptcy
and pressed to finance the Civil War, Congress authorized the United States
Treasury to issue paper money for the first time in the form of non-interest
bearing Treasury Notes call Demand Notes.
1865 - Gold Certificates were issued by the Department of the
Treasury against gold coin and bullion deposits and were circulated until
1877 - The Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving
and Printing started printing all U.S. currency.
1913 - After the financial panics of 1893 and 1907, the Federal
Reserve Act of 1913 was passed. It created the Federal Reserve System
as the nation's central bank to regulate the flow of money and credit
for economic stability and growth. The system was authorized to issue
Federal Reserve Notes, now the only U.S. currency produced.
1929 - Currency was reduced in size by twenty-five percent
and standardized with uniform portraits on the faces and emblems and monuments
on the backs.
1990 - A security thread and microprinting were introduced
in $50 and $100 notes to deter counterfeiting by technologically advanced
copiers and printers.
1996 - Additional security features are added to a newly redesigned
$100 Federal Reserve note. The note incorporates both familiar and new
features, while remaining recognizably American. Redesigned lower denominations
are being introduced at the rate of about one denomination per year.
1997 - The new
$50 bill is introduced. The second note to be redesigned to include
new security features, the reverse side also includes an enlarged number
50 in the lower right-hand corner to aid the low-vision community.
Printing of Currency
Since October 1, 1877, all U.S. currency
has been printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which started
out as a six person operation using steam powered presses in the basement
of the Department of Treasury. Now, 2,300 Bureau employees occupy twenty-five
acres of floor space in two Washington, D.C. buildings. The Treasury
operates a satellite printing plant in Ft. Worth, Texas. Currency and
stamps are designed, engraved, and printed twenty-four hours a day on
thirty high speed presses. In 1990, at a cost of 2.6 cents each, over
seven billion notes worth about $82 billion were produced for circulation
by the Federal Reserve System. Ninety-five percent will replace unfit
notes and five percent will support economic growth. At any one time,
$200 million in notes may be in production. Notes produced
in 2002 were
the $1 note, 41% of production time; the $5 note, 19%; $10 notes,
note, 15%; and $100 note, 9%. No $2 or $50 notes were printed in 2002.
In 1929, U.S. currency was standardized with uniform
portraits on the faces and emblems and monuments on the backs.