Green color of banknotes

Actually, it is not known exactly why just the green color was placed on the banknotes. It is known that the oldest banknotes Demand Notes were called "greenback" due to the intense green color of ink on the reverse. It is assumed that green color was initially placed to protect against counterfeiting by taking pictures and distribute these images as money. The early cameras saw everything in black-white shades and, as a result, details printed in green color lost individuality when reproduced photographically. After changing banknotes to small-size in 1929 the use of green color was still continued because printing houses still had a huge stockpile of green pigment and moreover tried to maintain uniformity with previous series. In addition, this color was relatively resistant to various physico-chemical processes which the notes had contact or would have contact. Finally, the color green was also psychologically positively identified with a strong and stable government.

Durability and lifetime of banknotes

The average life time of banknotes (period of time banknotes in circulation) depends on their denominations:

  • 1 USD - about 42 months
  • 5 USD - about 16 months
  • 10 USD - about 18 months
  • 20 USD - about 24 months
  • 50 USD - about 55 months
  • 100 USD - about 89 months
Durability (strength) notes is estimated at 4000 double folds before the bill becomes torn.


Average weight of the note, regardless of denomination is 1 gram.


The highest denomination note in U.S. history was the Gold Certificate of the 1934 Series in denominations of $ 100,000. These notes were printed for a very short period of time - from 18 December 1934 to 9 January 1935 and were only for internal use between banks, the Federal Reserve Banks. Neither any company nor a private person could possess such a note lawfully. These notes enabled banks to the exchange of money in gold coins bullion.


The Secretary of the Treasury is the person responsible for the selection of character which will appear on the banknotes. Portraits of the (present) existing persons on the banknotes were adopted in 1929 when it was established a small-size banknotes (today's size). Prior to 1929, the Secretary of Treasury appointed a special committee which handled the selection of proper person. It was agreed that the presidents of the United States are the most recognizable people among the American people, and they must be placed on the banknotes. However, three exceptions have been done:

  • Alexander Hamilton - first Secretary of the Treasury is on the 10 USD bill

  • Benjamin Franklin - one of Founding Father - is on the 100 USD bill

  • Salmon Portland Chase - Secretary of the Treasury during the civil War and Lincoln presidency - on the 10000 USD bill

The above people were very popular and also very recognizable in society. Unfortuately, the Department of Treasury has no information why exactly these persons were selected for the banknotes. By law, only the portraits of deceased persons may be placed on the banknotes.


The origin of the $ sign is not clear however, there is one widely accepted version of this explanation. This symbol is the most likely the result of the evolution in the determination of P (pesos), piastres, or "piece of eight" Spanish dollar - formed in different places in Spain or Mexico. This version says that the letter S was overwritten on the letter P to give in result a symbol similar to the $. It is also worth to mention that the Spanish dollar was the official coin payment in contemporary America, which also constituted the basis for the creation of the U.S. dollar in 1857.

Another theory is that the $ sign is simply a symbol of the obverse of the Spanish dollar, i.e. the column and its surrounding belts.


Celebrity notes are genuine currency notes that private persons/business produces as novelty items by applying the picture of a well-known personality or portraits of famous characters such real movie stars or fictional characters from fairy tales such as Santa Claus. This is done mostly for advertising or promotional purposes. New portraits on the banknotes are applied with an adhesive which can be easily peel off. According to American law, any application and change the original notes is permissible only if these changes could be removed without damaging the original banknote.

Sometimes you can also find notes very similar to real dollars but completely not made on the basis of the original American dollars. Such notes are used in Disneylands.


American Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has never been printing 3$ banknotes. However, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, banks operated banknotes with a value of $ 3. These notes were printed by private contractors and were not obligations of the Federal Government.


The front side of the Great Seal first appeared on the reverse of the 20$ banknote Gold Certificate Series 1905. In 1935, both the front and back side of the Great Seal appeared on 1$ bills of Silver Certificate.

On the first Continental Congress in 1776 the first image of the Great Seal was mandated. For many following years, many people and committees were working on the appearance of the seal which eventually gained its final image in 1782. The State Department is the official keeper of the seal. Description and explanation of the obverse and reverse of the seal comes from a brochures of Department of State (September 1996):

The obverse: the dominant theme is the American bald eagle holding a shield. There are 13 red and white stripes representing the first 13 states on the shield. Over the stripes is a blue beam that unites 13 states and represents Congress. The inscription "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of many, one) alludes to this union. Bald eagle is holding in its claws an olive branch (symbol of peace) and 13 arrows (sybol of war) - the power which is attributed to Congress. Above bald eagle head is a constellation of 13 stars representing the new country in the world and its place and rank among other sovereign countries.

Reverse: In the central place is a pyramid representing the strength and duration. Eye over the pyramid and the motto "Annuit Coeptis" (He [God] has favored our undertakings) refers to the many interventions of Providence of God over America. At the base of the pyramid, inscribed in Roman numerals is the date 1776. Below the pyramid encircled by the inscription "Novus Ordum Seclorum" (A new order of the ages). These symbols indicates the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the new American era in 1776.


During World War II in the years 1942 - 1944 a special notes were issued. These were Silver Certificates and Federal Reserve Notes with brown seals and black print HAWAII that were in use only in the territory of Hawaii. See more at Hawaii banknotes - Federal Reserve Notes edition and Hawaji banknotes - Silver Certificates edition.

Similar as above, there were issued Silver Certificates for use by American troops during the invasion in North Africa in 1942. These notes were marked by the yellow color of the Seal of the Treasurer. See more at North Africa banknotes - Silver Certificates edition.

Apart from above, the (BEP) Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced or supervised the production of special banknotes (Allied Military Currency) for the U.S. Army stationed in Germany, Austria, Japan, France and Italy during the war and also after the war.




Although a number of female figures could be found on various early currency issues, Martha Washington (wife of President George Washington) is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on U.S. currency note. Her image is on the front of the 1$ banknote Silver Certificate Series 1886 and 1891 and on the reverse of the 1$ banknote of Silver Certificate Series 1896.



In order to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Federal Reserve issued banknote in denominations of 2USD Note, Series 1976. In contrast to previous 2$ notes, the United States Note on the reverse has painting "The signing of the Declaration of Independence" by Trumbull Jonhn. An interesting fact is that the original painting contains 56 people while on the banknote only 47. Due to the small amount of space on the note it couldn't be possible to fit the whole picture and therefore only 47 people were captured.


On the reverse of the 5 USD banknote there is Lincoln Memorial building. Observant person will notice that above the cornice of the building there are names of the 26 states.


On the reverse of the 10 USD note issued between 1928 and 1996 we can find the Treasury building and part of the street with the car in front. The U.S. law prohibits placing on the banknotes trade names or products. Hence, the car is not of any particular brand (eg, popular at the time the Model T Ford), but this car is made of several types of contemporary cars. In 1927, the engraver Louis Schofield created for this purpose a special car model whose image was moved on the banknote.


On the reverse of the banknote ther is a building of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Just beside the building is a man and a woman standing but you can not see exactly whether they hug. The third person is standing at some distance from the town hall and looks at the building. The clock in the hall is set exactly 4.10 per hour but there are no records anywhere why exactly that time was chosen and presented.


Federal Reserve System of the United States, also known as the central bank of the United States was created December 23, 1913, on pursuant to the Federal Reserve Act. The system consists of a central independent government agency in Washington and 12 regional branches covering the entire United States. FED emits contemporary U.S. dollar bills.

Districts of individual bank branches:

Each of these 12 banks has its own letter designation that is found on all banknotes:

  1. Boston - letter A
  2. New York - letter B
  3. Philadelphia - letter C
  4. Cleveland - letter D
  5. Richmond - letter E
  6. Atlanta - letter F
  7. Chicago - letter G
  8. St Louis - letter H
  9. Minneapolis - letter I
  10. Kansas City - letter J
  11. Dallas - letter K
  12. San Francisco - letter L


U.S. Mint said in a report from 2011, the cost of production of coins as follows:

Penny - 1 cent

Nickel - 5 cents

Dime – 10 cents

Quarter – 25 cents

$1 Coin – 1 USD

2,41 cents

11,18 cents

5,65 cents

11,14 cents

18,03 cents


In 2010, the cost of producing a single note, compared with 2008 increased by almost 50%. In 2008, it amounted to 6.4 cents while in 2010 it was 9.6 cents. Paper for banknotes is manufactured by Crane & Company of Massachusetts. According to the GAO audit institution of Congress (U.S. Government Accountability Office) at the cost of the production of paper dollars significantly affect raw material prices, ie 75% cotton and 25% linen, but they do not exceed 50% of the total cost of production of banknotes. The same institution insists for the replacement of paper dollar bills for coins of the same denomination. The key arguments are that the coins are more durable and do not need to be replaced so often. Exchange of banknotes paper is planned for a periods of 7-10 years. It is estimated that the U.S. government could save in this way, about $ 5.5 billion over 30 years.


Half cent is the smallest monetary unit of the United States currency which has ever been minted. The coin was withdrawn from circulation in 1857. An interesting fact is that the dollar was of high value at that time. Therefore, the 1/2 cent coin was also of high value. It is estimated that the coin had more power buying then the coin 10c (dime) in 2012. Moreover, its value in 2014 is estimated at 14 cents.