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Interesting Facts About Dollar Bills

Updated on December 31, 2010

Many of is use dollar bills quite often without ever thinking about them. The U.S. Treasury claims there are billions of dollar bills in circulation. Though we often fail to notice with so much paper money changing hands, these bills have some interesting characteristics.

The $1 bill-people will pray for it, work for it and cheat for it, but few ever take a good look at it.

The Dollar Bill


Every dollar bill is labeled with letters and numbers showing which plate the bill was printed on and where on the plate the bill was located..


A dollar bill weighs approximately 1 gram and measures 2.61 inches wide, 6.14 inches long and .0043 inches thick.


A $1 bill can be folded in half 8,000 times before tearing.

Fun Fact

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing prints 16,650,000 dollar bills every day.

Ink Colors

The front of a $1 bill is printed in black ink and the back in green ink. This is why $1 bills are often called "greenbacks."


The Great Seal of the United States

A popular and often asked question about design is the one that appears on the back of the $1 note, the Great Seal of the United States. The front of the seal shows an American bald eagle behind our national shield. The eagle holds an olive branch, which symbolizes peace, with 13 berries and 13 leaves. In the left talon, the eagle holds 13 arrows, which represents war.

The 13 leaves represent the original colonies. The eagle's head is turned toward the olive branch, showing a desire for peace.

The top of the shield represents the Congress, the head of the eagle the Executive branch, and the nine tail feathers the Judiciary branch of our government. The 13-letter motto, "E Pluribus Unum," on the ribbon held in the eagle's beak means "Out of Many, One."


Dollar Pyramid

On the reverse of the seal is a pyramid with 1776 in Roman numerals at the base. The pyramid stands for permanence and strength. The pyramid is unfinished, signifying the United States' future growth and goal of perfection.

A sunburst and an eye are above the pyramid, representing the overseeing eye of a deity. The 13-letter motto, "Annuit Coeptis" means "He has favored our undertakings." Below the pyramid the motto, "Novus Ordo Seclorum" means "A new order of the ages," standing for the new American era.

The motto "In God We Trust" first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864. However, it was not until 1955 that a law was passed which stated that thereafter all new designs for coins and currency would bear that inscription.


Dollar Bill History

42% of currency produced today in the United States are one-dollar bills. The current dollar bill design was created in 1963. The first dollar bill was created in 1862, containing a picture of Salmon P. Chase on the front. Mr. Chase was the Secretary of the Treasury during Abraham Lincoln's term. Between 1963 and the present, the following people have appeared on the $1 bill: Martha Washington, George Washington, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, and Ulysses S. Grant. The current $1 bill is the second oldest bill design, next to the $2 bill.


Dollar Bill Ingredients

You may have noticed that dollar bills feel significantly stronger, thicker and smoother than regular paper. Dollar bills are made of a wood pulp that contains Crane brand of paper, cloth including cotton, silk, and linen. This special paper and cloth mixture is known as "rag."

Red and blue fibers are cut up into small pieces and inserted into the paper and cloth mixture to create texture and variety in the bill so it is difficult to counterfeit. Dollar bills are printed carefully with ink and are screened for mistakes before their release into the economy. However, sometimes a few streaked or erroneous dollar bills are overlooked, and become very valuable once they are uncovered.


How to Detect a Counterfeit Dollar Bill

Though counterfeit money is rare, knowing how to spot it can save you personal embarrassment and trouble with the law (a $5,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison). And while good fake bills are almost identical to their legitimate counterparts, the differences between them are very noticeable, as long as you know how to detect them.

Step 1

Look at the details in the bill's portrait. If the bill is real, the eyes should be lifelike and the facial features should stand out clearly from the background.

Step 2

Look at the Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals. The pointy "teeth" around their edges should be clear and sharp, instead of muddled or hazy.

Step 3

Look at the intricate lines in the bill's border. Genuine bills have scrollwork that is highly defined, but the margins of counterfeit bills may be broken, fuzzy or indistinct.

Step 4

Look at the serial number on the bill. The color and shade of these numbers should match that of the bill's Treasury Seal. Counterfeits also tend to have numbers that are unevenly spaced or lined up crooked.

Step 5

Look for the distinctive red and blue fibers woven into the bill's paper. Counterfeiters often try to emulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue lines on their bills, instead of embedding them in the fabric, itself.

Step 6

Check to make sure that the monetary amount of the bill's numerals and written amounts match. This seems like an obvious point, but many counterfeiters try to raise the value of genuine bills by changing the numbers in its corners, even though the portrait remains unchanged (imagine a $10 bill with George Washington in the middle instead of Alexander Hamilton).


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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      this is lamem

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      that bad ass ;D

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 5 years ago

      Well, I have to say that I learned more about the good ol' dollar bill than I ever thought about before! :) Interesting facts, and now I'm amazed that so much work has actually gone into the design. I'd love a few million of them to show up at my house! :) Well done! Squid Blessed!