Hawaii bills, green ink, and other money facts

David MoonBlog

How much do you really know about money?

The word “money” derives from the Romans. They made their coins in the temple of Juno Moneta, their goddess of marriage and women.

The earliest banks were ancient religious temples where people stored grain or precious metals they used as money.

The dime is smaller than the cent and nickel because, at one time, each coin contained an amount of metal approximately equal to the face value of the coin.

The dime was originally spelled “disme,” based on the Latin word “decimus,” meaning one-tenth.

The five-cent piece is the only US coin named after a part of its composition.

The US once issued paper currency in denominations smaller than a dollar and as large as 100 thousand dollars. Since 1945 the largest bill in print has been the hundred.

The phrase “IN GOD WE TRUST” was first printed on US bills in 1957.

The word “salary” comes from the Latin word for salt, “sal.” A man worth his salt is worth his salary.

There is no Federal statute that requires a private individual or business to accept coins or currency. A company could legally require its customers to pay with a credit card, Bitcoin or beef jerky.

The elm tree seen to the right of the White House on the back of the $20 bill was uprooted in a 2006 storm.

In Old English “pygg” was a type of clay used to make jars and dishes that held money, providing us with the term “piggy bank.”

In 2004, someone tried using a counterfeit $1 million bill at a Walmart in Georgia. The cashier couldn’t make change.

The total amount of US currency in circulation is $1.3 trillion. About ten percent of that is singles.

A cent costs 2.41 cents to produce. A nickel costs 11.2 cents. The Treasury loses more than $100 million a year minting these two coins.

The US buys coin blanks, called “planchets” from private companies. One of the world’s largest providers of planchets is Greeneville, Tennessee’s Jarden Zinc Products. More than $300 billion of coins in circulation today were birthed there.

The first US currency, the Continental, lost so much of its value during the Revolutionary War that each was exchanged for US Treasury bonds—at one percent of face value.

During the Civil War, the US issued currency backed by Spanish dollars. Confederate currency was fully fiat and, like the original US Continental, was eventually worthless.

In the 18th century, the Spanish peso was accepted as a basic unit of value in the US. The peso abbreviation, “PS,” likely evolved into writing the S on top of the P, giving us our $ sign.

Dollar bills are made of fabric (75% cotton, 25% linen), not paper.

During World War II, bills sent to Hawaii were overprinted with the word “Hawaii.” If the Japanese had occupied the islands, the US could declare the “Hawaii bills” worthless.

The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing claims that it does not know why bills were originally printed with green ink.