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February 20, 2012 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Everything you ever wanted to know about U.S. currency.

Featuring the answers to such pressing questions as:
When and where was my note made?
What do all the numbers and letters mean?
How have the designs of notes changed over the years?
What the hell do those signatures say?
What do we not know about U.S. paper currency?
posted by clorox (19 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is a good old-fashioned website, by god.
posted by cortex at 5:15 PM on February 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Waaaaay more, than I ever wanted to know about U.S. currency actually.
posted by Windopaene at 5:18 PM on February 20, 2012


That's a fine collection of factual information.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:03 PM on February 20, 2012


apparently, the redesigned-with-color $100 bill has had a serious production problem. it was announced in april 2010 and they still don't know when it will go into circulation. the problem is that the paper often creased going through the presses. this was discovered after full production had started, so they may have to shred over $110B in faulty notes.
posted by bruceo at 6:09 PM on February 20, 2012


That is a good old-fashioned website, by god.

Oh, FrontPage, what ever happened to you?
posted by KingEdRa at 6:10 PM on February 20, 2012


The "numbers and letters" page leads me to "Each Federal Reserve Note is issued by one of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks" and once again it seems bizarre to me how geographically imbalanced the Banks' distribution is: only one of them is west of the 100th meridian, there are two in Missouri, and (upon a little research) some of them represent such expansive regions as "eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey."
posted by psoas at 6:10 PM on February 20, 2012


" . . .so they may have to shred over $110B in faulty notes"

Careful, Ron Paul may hear you and demand that rest of the notes be shredded as well.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:14 PM on February 20, 2012


The most important thing you need to know about US currency is how to blank out FEDERAL RESERVE NOTE to make it spell FART.
posted by scruss at 6:18 PM on February 20, 2012


blank out FEDERAL RESERVE NOTE to make it spell FART.

See also.
posted by cortex at 6:21 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


once again it seems bizarre to me how geographically imbalanced the Banks' distribution is

The distribution of branches, of which there are 36, might seem more reasonable. (The Federal Reserve Banks of Boston and Philadelphia, for example, each only have one branch; San Francisco has five.)

Also, the twelve districts were established by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913; basically I think you're seeing the population distribution of a century ago.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:25 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


My first job out of college in the late 80s was with the company that made the paper for US currency, Westvaco Corp, now MeadWestvaco. They had had the contract forever and probably still do. We also made the embossed pre-stamped envelopes that were (are?) available from USPS.
posted by COD at 6:29 PM on February 20, 2012


The distribution of branches
Broken link. But I agree that the population density of the early 1900's was a key factor in the distribution of the main banks.
posted by clorox at 6:34 PM on February 20, 2012


Thanks. I was too afraid to ask about any of this.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:55 PM on February 20, 2012


Back in the Hypercard days, my buddy Omar who was a total HC guru would evaluate stacks given to him by completely removing all effects, extraneous graphics, and any bells and whistles he could root out. Then he would look at your stack.
posted by telstar at 8:49 PM on February 20, 2012


Cortex, that might be my favorite thing ever.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:30 PM on February 20, 2012


...the company that made the paper for US currency, Westvaco Corp, now MeadWestvaco. They had had the contract forever and probably still do.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think they make paper. IIRC our "paper" money is made from a blend of cotton and linen (75%/25% I think) so it's actually a type of fabric. I suppose that it isn't made of woven or knit threads so maybe it's technically paper?

However the material is classified, I think it is the single most important security feature of U.S. Currency. When I was a bank teller, I twice found counterfeit bills as I was counting a deposit. They both looked pretty good but I noticed the difference in feel immediately. It was kind of neat when an agent from the Secret Service came to get them and ask us about them.
posted by VTX at 6:58 AM on February 21, 2012


I think it's technically paper because of the way it's made - from a pulp of the base materials. However, it's been 20 years since I worked in that industry...
posted by COD at 8:50 AM on February 21, 2012


I still can't believe the US hasn't moved over to dollar coins.
In hidden vaults across the country, the US government is building a stockpile of $1 coins. The hoard has topped $1.1bn - imagine a stack of coins reaching almost seven times higher than the International Space Station - and the piles have grown so large the US Federal Reserve is running out of storage space.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10783019
posted by TheDonF at 9:13 AM on February 21, 2012


US consumers simply will not use dollar coins as long as dollar bills are available. The only way the dollar coins will ever catch on is if the government simply stops making the bills. And I'm sure my former employer spends a buck or two lobbying to make sure that isn't going to happen.
posted by COD at 11:30 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


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