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Interesting Facts About Money

Rita Tuli

Interesting Facts About Money

Money might not buy happiness, but it does make the world go round and everybody seems to want to get their hands on it. Here are some intriguing details about our currency:

What's the biggest bill ever issued?
The $100,000 Gold Certificate of 1934. President Woodrow Wilson's portrait was on these bills, which were only used by Federal Reserve banks and never went into general circulation.

How much of our money is in dollar bills?
In fiscal year 2009, 42.9% of the bills printed were $1 notes.

How long does money last?
Money may not stay long in your wallet, but it does hang around for a while out in the world. The government reports these average life spans for the various bills: $1 - 42 months; $5 - 16 months; $10 - 18 months; $20 - 24 months; $50 - 55 months; and $100 - 89 months. When bills are too worn, they're pulled from circulation and replaced. Coins last about 25 years.

How many pennies would it take to stretch across the country?
It takes 84,480 pennies to cover a mile and over 250 million of them to go coast to coast. That adds up to over $2.5 million.

Did any bill ever have a picture of a woman?
Martha Washington's portrait was on the face of the 1886 and 1891 $1 Silver Certificates and on the back of the ones issued in 1896.

Has a portrait of an African American ever been on U.S. currency?
Commemorative coins in the 1940s had pictures of George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington and a recent one honored Jackie Robinson. No paper money has had an African American's portrait, but the signatures of four African American Registers of the Treasury have been on our bills  – Blanche K. Bruce, Judson W. Lyons, William T. Vernon, and James C. Napier – as well as the signature of one African American woman, Azie Taylor Morton, the 36th Treasurer of the United States, who served from 1977 to 1981.

What kind of paper do they use to print money?
They don't. Our bills are a 75% cotton - 25% linen blend with silk fibers throughout. This is far more durable than paper when wet.

How tough is our money?
Government tests show our bills can be folded forward and backward 4,000 times before they tear.

What is that eye at the top of the pyramid?
The "all-seeing eye" is a symbol of divine providence.

E Pluribus Unum – what's it mean?
This Latin motto means, "Out of many, one." It can be freely translated as, "Many uniting into one." It has been on the Great Seal of the United States since 1782, but didn't wind up on our money until 1902.

Is a torn bill still worth something?
The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) says on their website: "The BEP redeems partially destroyed or badly damaged currency as a free public service....The Office of Financial Management, located in the BEP, uses experts to examine mutilated currency and will approve the issuance of a Treasury check for the value of the currency determined to be redeemable."

(Rita Tuli is Vice President of Leader Mortgage and can be reached at 781.648.7900. )

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