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Fun Facts About Money

Ask your friends and family if they know the answers to these questions about American money!

Why is American money green?

The money printed by the U.S. government starting in the 1860s was called “greenbacks” because their back sides were printed in green ink. They used green ink so criminals couldn’t make counterfeit money (fake money). Criminals would try and make fake money by taking a picture of real money and spending the picture like it was money. Because photographs back then were only in black and white, they couldn’t fake money that used green in box

Our money continues to be printed in green ink because, according to the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving, green ink is durable and the color means stability.

Who decides which presidents are on dollar bills and coins? Have they ever changed?

The Secretary of the Treasury selects the designs and presidents on U.S. money, although in special cases an Act of Congress can decide who goes on a new bill or coin. There is a law that says the faces of people still living can’t appear on American currency.

The faces on our money have stayed the same since 1929.

Have women ever appeared on American money?

Only one woman has ever been printed on a U.S. bill: Martha Washington, the wife of President George Washington. She was featured on the $1 silver certificate in 1886. But ten years later, she was put on the back of that dollar bill next to her husband, George.

Famous women have appeared on coins: suffragette Susan B. Anthony and Native American guide Sacagawea.

How long does a dollar bill last before it falls apart?

Lower denomination bills (dollar bills representing smaller amounts of money) fall apart faster than bigger bills because they change hands more often. A $1 bill has a life expectancy of almost 6 years, but a $100 bill can survive up to 15 years before it becomes too damaged and must be replaced with a new bill by the U.S. Mint, who prints all of our money.

It takes about 8,000 folds before a bill, no matter its denomination, will tear from use.

What is the largest denomination of money ever made by the American government?

The largest bill ever printed by our government was the $100,000 gold certificate in 1934 and 1935. The U.S. Mint has also printed money in other large amounts, like the $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills, but the $100 bill has been the largest denomination printed since 1969.

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