How is Money Made in America?
Currency from the United States hasn't always looked so well-constructed. In fact, during the country's earlier years, the monetary system could rival that of a school child. Yes, it had that many issues but the nation has learned from its mistakes and it now has one of the most technical monetary systems in the world. Just a few years ago, coins and paper money got a face-lift to help deter counterfeiting issues and it has helped tremendously. The real question that people continue to ask: how is paper money made to be so durable? As we see below, the United States has fought back from its quickly depreciated continental currency to a monetarily global power.
The History of Money
We all have noticed the new American currency that came out over the past few years; the new quarters, nickels and pennies. Even the paper money got a new face-lift, with the redesigned $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 bills. Since the $100 bill is America's highest-denomination note in circulation, the country found it vital to upgrade it due to counterfeiting concerns. The $1 bill, though, was left out in the cold as the government didn't see fit to upgrade it because of the shelf life (21 months).
American currency is very young compared to many other countries. Its first attempt to disperse currency was during the American Revolution. The only problem with trying to fund a war at that time was that the money depreciated greatly and quickly because the country was in its infancy. However, during the middle of the Civil War, Congress authorized the start of legalizing tender (money).
The only problem with the time period and the type of paper money being legalized is that counterfeiting was easy. History states that a third of all paper money that was circulating during the mid-1860's, was faked. With this huge problem at the government's feet, Congress decided to officially establish the U.S. Treasury Department in 1874.
What Is Money Made Of?
When you were a little younger, did you ever look at a dollar bill and think to yourself, "what is money made of?" The question is asked more than one might think and it is a valid one that goes more in-depth than you could possibly imagine, especially with today's technology. Even in the young days of the Revolutionary War, the 13 colonies had to find a way to fund the war effort. The paper currency they used consisted of the normal parchment they used for everyday writing. However, if you have ever watched the blockbuster movies "National Treasure 1 and 2", you will know that the technology that our forefathers possessed was far from elementary.
Fast forward to today and now you have paper currency being made from 25% linen and 75% cotton fibers. The currency from 200 years ago would fall apart after a month or so if it wasn't properly taken care of. Today, a bill would have to be folded about 4,000 times (backward and forwards) before it will tear. So, (how is money made) to be so durable? Through sheer dedication and steadfast determination-the same kind that won the nation its independence!
How Has It Changed Today?
In 1690, the first Colonial paper money was introduced into America. Things have changed dramatically since then. Massachusetts started the paper currency fad and the other colonies followed suit. The Revolutionary War was a huge step in the country's step for stabilizing some kind of currency. It didn't go as well as the country would have hoped though. In 1775, the Continental Congress passed the limited issuance of certain paper currency to back the war of independence, called "Continentals." These currencies became worthless real quick and in 1777, the first real notes were signed into law giving the country a real type of currency, however they weren't all that great either.
It wasn't until the Civil War that currency really hit its stride and the government finally found the answer to how is money made that can be worth "its weight." This era did see some currency issues though and a lot of it came in the form of denominations. To finance the war, the Federals started to print the first paper currency since the Revolutionary War. Even though the U.S. Treasury wasn't formed until 1874, it had been overseeing the printing of $5, $10 and $20 bill since 1861. Before 1860, there were 8,000 or so state banks that were circulating their own versions of notes ranging from a half a cent to $20,000! This posed a problem to the federal government and that is one of the lesser known reasons for the Civil War.
The question isn't how is paper money made to be better these days, but why. And the answer lies in the problems of the past. The country needed a system that could alleviate all the problems of the past and technology was now allowing us to finally push ahead, and do so further than any country had ever done before. The start of the 20th century had opened up so many possibilities and we can only imagine what the 21st century has in store.
Coins and Notes
- Coinsite- Your go-to website for all things coinage. Information about Mints across the world and numerous links to sites that hold educational facts about paper money as well.
- One Dollar Bill- Everything you need to know about American currency. Looking for facts about ancient monetary systems? This is the perfect place!
- US Treasury- The official website for the US Dept. of the Treasury. Has everything from up-to-the-minute news about money to historical facts.
- US Mint- The best site that the world has for kids that want to learn about US currency. Learn everything from how coins are made to the first Native American $1 coin, which was produced in 2009.
- Collect Paper Money- One of the internet's foremost leaders of links concerning currency. Pick up tips about African money or the Euro.
- Coins and Currency- Get all the best information on paper money and coins from reliable sources. From the Yen to the ancient Chinese currency.
- Columbia Notes- An extensive list of links that provide valuable information on coins and paper that date back thousands of years.
- My Schoolhouse- A great way for children to learn the value of money.
- The Guide to the New 50 Printed Quarters- If you ever wanted to learn everything there is to know about the US Mint's 50 Quarter-print that came out a few years ago, this is the site to use.
- Moneyville- One of the very few games online that can be used as a teaching tool by both students and teachers.
History of Money
- Living History Farm- One of the very few study plans for elementary school kids that explain the history of money and what it did to the farming communities.
- Museum of Modern Art- Want to know about printing? The MOMA has all the answers.
- All About Money- If you are a fan of money, these sites will give you some insight of how it all started and where it is going to end up.
- Civil War Currency History- Want to know more about the money used during the Civil War? Click here.
- Clements Classroom- Great Social Studies area for kids who want to learn more about money.
- US History- This site has everything you need to know on US history, including coins and paper currency.
- Bureau of Engraving and Printing- The US government's official site for engraving and printing.
- Financial Literacy For Kids- Awesome books that walk your child through financial literacy.
- This Week in Financial History- Talks about the different trials and tribulations that have went on throughout each week in history.
- New Money- If you want to know all about our new currency, check out this informative website.
- Federal Reserve Information- Links to several education articles about the Federal Reserve.
- Community Education about Money- Looking for up-to-date articles about today's money situation? Click here.
- Anti-counterfeiting- Do you know how to spot a counterfeit bill? If not, want to learn how?
- Knowing US Money- The history of money in America, world currency and global counterfeiting is just a few of the topics you will see here.
- ANA- The American Numismatic Association's official site for all things money.
- Professional Scripophily Traders Association- Sounds like a fancy title but it just means a society that helps teach people about money.
- Kids' Turn Central- A great site for teaching kids about money and economics.
- Investing- Want to learn how to invest properly? Read this article.
- A Timeline of Money- Learn how money and economics has evolved from day one.
- Museum of American Finance- Finance is the core of this museum's educational program.
- US Federal Reserve- The US official site for the Federal Reserve.
- Jump Start- One of the best personal finance literacy websites for kids ever designed.
- Collecting Coins and Currency- Learn everything there is to know about collecting coins and currency of all kinds.
- Money Learning Links- Want to know more about money? Try clicking here.
- Where's George?- An awesome interactive online game that is perfect for teaching kids about money.
- Prosperity 4 Kids- Awesome resource full of links that offer educational advice for kids.
- Saving for America- Perfect program that is designed to get kids to start saving when in school.
- Learn to Count- Great for teaching kids to count! Interactive coin-counter that anyone can play with.
- Practical Money Skills- Learn practical money skills at any age. Great for the younger ages.
- Kelly Anderson