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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: United States gets a new paper currency
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is the final in a series of columns looking at how hard currency was introduced in Georgia and Bulloch County.

America's first post-Civil War dollars were the $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 1878-80 United States notes. These were the first and last $5,000 and $10,000 notes printed.

Then came the silver certificates. The first issue was in 1880 with values of $1, $2 and $5. In 1913, America's largest-ever bills were released, nicknamed "horse blanket" or "saddle blanket" bills.

Beginning in 1929, new dollar bills were once again issued, this time 30 percent smaller in size. They included the largest denomination of American bill ever printed: the $100,000 bill, featuring Woodrow Wilson.

In 1934, the Treasury issued gold certificates printed in the amounts of $100, $1,000, $10,000 and $100,000. Only for official U.S. government business, possession of these by a private citizen was a crime.

Federal Reserve

In 1914, the Federal Reserve Act created the Federal Reserve Banks to manage the nation's supply of money. Their first bills were released in a series of printings that bore the designations of "Federal Reserve Bank Notes."

Until 1930, these notes were only redeemable at a specific Federal Reserve Bank. These were replaced by Federal Reserve notes, printed by the U.S. Treasury and redeemable for an equal amount in gold.

Our national motto

A joint resolution of Congress was passed on July 30, 1956, declaring that "In God We Trust" would become our national motto. As a result, "In God We Trust" was ordered added to all U.S. bills beginning in 1957.

In August 1966, the motto was added to the new $50 and $100 Federal Reserve notes, meaning that all bills in circulation now bore the motto.

$1 coin and $2 bill? No!

In 1976, the Treasury released a bicentennial $2 bill that featured the signing of the Declaration of Independence, then almost immediately afterward released the Susan B. Anthony $1 coin.

Many suspected the $2 bill was part of an attempt to phase out the $1 bill. The Anthony coin was often confused with the quarter because it had the same basic shape.

Not surprisingly, the public rejected both the bill and coin. The Treasury came out with another $1 coin displaying the Native American princess Sacagawea, but Americans rejected this golden dollar coin as well.

Counterfeit proof?

The American dollar bill was redesigned in 1996 to foil counterfeiters. As a result, beginning in October 2003, the U.S. Treasury completely changed the U.S. dollar bills.

Using multicolored bills with a color-shifting ink that changes depending on the angle at which it is observed, it was said that counterfeiters could not copy these bills.

The first was the $20 bill, with a blue-green and peach-colored background and ink that changes from copper to green. The next, the $50 bill, has a distinct pale blue-red and peach-colored background.

Next to be released was the $10 bill, which has orange, yellow and red hues, and then the $5 bill, which has purple in the middle that changes to grey on the corners of the bill.

The last new bill, $100, sports a security ribbon on which bells change themselves to read "100's" as you move it side to side. Furthermore, there is a bell inside the inkwell on the bill.

As you move the bill around, its color changes from copper to green and even seems to disappear. Finally, there is an image of Benjamin Franklin visible only when you hold it up to the light.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at



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