Facts About Paper Money

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Money, and whether to spend or save it, has always been a weighty subject, both literally and figuratively. Here’ proof: 454 US currency notes—in any denomination—make a pound.

While you’re contemplating that hefty bit of information, here’s more trivia about America’s green stuff—starting off with the fact that it’s green because that became the color of choice for security reasons when bills were downsized in 1929.

$ The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has been in the money business since the 1860s.

$ Paper money is tough enough to withstand being folded thousands of times before it rips or tears.

$ Depending on the denomination, the lifespan of bills is 16 to 89 months, with the $5 bill surviving the shortest amount of time and the $100 bill hanging on the longest.

$ The portraits on US paper currency are chosen by the secretary of the treasury as mandated by an 1862 act of congress.

$ The dollar sign is believed to come from the Mexican or Spanish "P" for pesos which became overwritten by the letter "S" and eventually turned into the "$" symbol long before US currency was adopted in 1785.

$ You can buy uncut sheets of US bills. You can also buy shredded money in small amounts for souvenirs. For larger amounts used in artistic and commercial activities, you need written approval from the BEP and you’ll have to follow specific guidelines.

$ You can reproduce money or create illustrations for non-fraudulent purposes, in color or black and white, as long as you follow the rules enforced by the US Secret Service.

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