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Fun Facts About Money

Money is the common label for paper currency used throughout the world. The value of money is not based on the paper it is printed on, but by what the money represents in precious metals (typically gold). Throughout the ages, money was most often goods or services that could be bartered or actual gold and silver.

Fun Facts About Money

American Money Facts

  • Massachusetts was the first American colony to issue paper money.
  • The Bureau of Engraving and Printing became the sole producer of United States currency in 1877.
  • The U.S. Mint became a part of the Department of Treasury in 1873.
  • The Secret Service was created to suppress counterfeit currency in 1865. Incidentally, they didn't begin protection services for the First Family until 1894.
  • Money is defined as "legal tender" in the U.S. Legal tender may be used to satisfy public charges, taxes, dues, and debts. The law, however, does not require anyone to accept currency as legal tender.
  • U.S. currency is green for three reasons: the ink was available in large quantities when printing currency began, it is resistant to chemical change, and it is the color the U.S. public now identifies with money.
  • Paper currency has an average lifespan of 18 months.
  • Nearly half of all bills printed annually are $1 bills.
  • Paper money is printed on a 75 percent cotton and 25 percent fiber mix labeled "rag paper."
  • Only one woman has ever appeared on paper currency: Martha Washington. Mrs. Washington appeared on the $1 silver certificates in 1886 and 1891.
  • Damaged bills that are torn in half can be taken to a bank to be replaced.
  • The oldest paper currency came from China during the Han and Tan dynasties.
  • More than 180 countries around the world print their own money.
  • Of those 180, only the U.S. has all paper currency in the same regulation size.

Coin Facts

  • Long before paper currency, coin currency was acceptable tender in the U.S. While coin currency still exists in the 21st century, it is not valued as highly as coins from previous centuries minted from actual precious metal.
  • Pennies are made of zinc coated in copper.
  • Nickels are composed entirely of a copper nickel alloy.
  • 1943 pennies were zinc coated steel to preserve copper for the war.
  • During World War II, nickels were not made from nickel. Despite this exception, it is the only coin to maintain the same material makeup since its creation.
  • Values were not engraved on coins until 1804. Prior to that year, value was determined by size of the coin.
  • The first person to appear on a regular U.S. coin was Abraham Lincoln.
  • Coins have an average lifespan of 30 years.

Counterfeit Money

  • The ridges on coin edges help identify counterfeit coins.
  • Counterfeiting was not illegal until 1877.
  • Fake or play money must be printed at a distinctly different size (50 percent larger or 25 percent smaller) in order to avoid a felony charge.
  • Currency is printed with magnetic ink, allowing vending achiness to identify whether a bill is legitimate.

Money Doesn't Grow on Trees

Money is purchasing power in the United States and around the world. Some like to save it, some like to collect it (such as coins) while others enjoy spending it. In the 21st century, it is common for people to prefer plastic (credit or debit cards) to cash money.