Currency

Currency
Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

The BEP prints billions of dollars - referred to as Federal Reserve notes - each year for delivery to the Federal Reserve System.
 

U.S. currency is used as a medium of exchange and store of value around the world.  According to the Federal Reserve, there is more than $2 trillion worth of Federal Reserve notes in circulation.

Currency production is not an easy or simple task, but one that involves highly trained and skilled craftspeople, specialized equipment, and a combination of traditional old world printing techniques merged with sophisticated, cutting edge technology. 

We invite you to explore U.S. currency, beginning with its origins and leading up to how it is secured and manufactured today.

 

Circulating Currency

Circulating Currency
Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Wed, 02/16/2022 - 10:57

Today’s banknotes are complex, technologically-advanced products designed to be easy for consumers to use, but thwart the most highly sophisticated counterfeiters.  You, as the consumer, are the first line of defense!
 

Each Federal Reserve note printed by the BEP includes security and design features unique to how the denomination is used in circulation.  Even with the most technologically-advanced security features, it is you – the educated user of U.S. currency – who continues to be the first and best line of defense against counterfeiting.

The BEP currently prints $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes.  Protect yourself by learning how to check the security features in each one to make sure what you have is genuine.

It is U.S. government policy that all designs of U.S currency remain legal tender, regardless of when they were issued. This policy includes all denominations of Federal Reserve notes, from 1914 to the present.

And be sure to check out our History section for a fascinating look at U.S. currency issued prior to 1914.
 

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Understand the main security features common across all U.S. banknotes to help quickly, easily, and discreetly determine if a note is genuine. For more information, visit www.uscurrency.gov

$1 Note

$1 Note

Issued 1963 - Present

1 dollar bill front
Security Features
Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

 

The first $1 Federal Reserve notes were issued in 1963.  The design, featuring George Washington on the face and the Great Seal on the back, has not changed.

The first $1 notes (called United States Notes or "Legal Tenders") were issued by the federal government in 1862 and featured a portrait of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase (1861-1864).

The first use of George Washington's portrait on the $1 note was on Series 1869 United States Notes.

If you had 10 billion $1 notes and spent one every second of every day, it would require 317 years for you to go broke.

Because the $1 note is infrequently counterfeited, the government has no plans to redesign this note.  In addition, there is a recurring provision in Section 116 of the annual Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act that prohibits the redesign of the $1 note.

$1 Note

All U.S. currency remains legal tender, regardless of when it was issued.

$2 Note

$2 Note

Issued 1976 - Present

$2 Note
Security Features
Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

 

The first $2 notes (called United States Notes or "Legal Tenders") were issued by the federal government in 1862 and featured a portrait of the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton (1789-1795).

The first use of Thomas Jefferson's portrait on $2 notes was on Series 1869 United States Notes.  The same portrait has been used for all series of $2 United States Notes as well as for all $2 Federal Reserve notes.

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's estate in Virginia, was first featured as the vignette on the back of the Series 1928 $2 United States Note.

In celebration of the United States' bicentennial, a $2 Federal Reserve note, Series 1976, was introduced.  The new design maintained the portrait of Jefferson on the face but the back was changed from Monticello to a vignette of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The most recent printing of the $2 note has the Series 2017A designation.  There are no plans to redesign the $2 note.

The vignette on the back of the current $2 Federal Reserve note features an engraving of John Trumbull's painting "Declaration of Independence."  The original Trumbull painting portrayed 47 people, 42 of whom were signers of the Declaration (there were 56 total).  However, because of a limited amount of space on the note, five of 47 men in the painting were not included in the engraving.

$2 Note Fact Sheet (PDF)

All U.S. currency remains legal tender, regardless of when it was issued.

The Buck Starts Here: How Money is Made

The Buck Starts Here: How Money is Made
Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Currency production is not an easy or simple task, but one that involves precision, highly trained and skilled craftspeople, specialized equipment and a combination of traditional, old world printing techniques merged with sophisticated, cutting edge technology.
 

Since 1862, BEP been entrusted with the mission of manufacturing the nation’s currency.  All U.S. currency is printed at our facility in Washington, D.C. and at our facility in Fort Worth, Texas.  In addition to manufacturing U.S. paper currency, BEP also prints a variety of U.S. government security documents.

Designing and Engraving

The design starts with ideas and rough sketches from our banknote designers, who develop the overall look, layout and artistic details.  They work closely with engravers, who use a combination of traditional and modern techniques to engrave the portrait on the front, the vignette on the back, the ornamentation, and the lettering.  Each engraving consists of numerous detailed fine lines, dots and dashes that vary in size and shape.

The magnificent artistry and skill of the engraver brings the portrait to life with an array of traditional tools and cutting-edge digital technology. 


The intricate carvings and etchings that we see every day on our paper currency are engraved into a network of fine lines and grooves into steel dies that are transferred and processed to create working printing plates.  After careful inspection and minor repair if needed, these plates are cleaned and polished.  The working plate is chrome-plated for hardness and is then ready to go on the printing press.

Ink and Paper

Green paper

All notes, regardless of denomination, use green ink on the backs.  Faces, on the other hand, use a combination of black ink, color-shifting ink in the lower right-hand corner for the $10 denominations and higher, and metallic ink for the freedom icons on redesigned $10, $20 and $50 bills.  The $100 note's "bell in the inkwell" freedom icon uses color-shifting ink.  These and the other inks appearing on U.S. currency are specially formulated and blended by BEP.  Inks headed for BEP presses undergo continual quality testing.

A fancy word for paper in the currency business is substrate.  U.S. currency paper is composed of 25% linen and 75% cotton, with red and blue fibers distributed randomly throughout to make imitation more difficult.  The paper is made specifically for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing by Crane Currency in Dalton, Massachusetts and it is illegal for anyone other than BEP to possess this paper.  Paper for the $5 bill and above is made with specific watermarks and security threads.  While the percentage of counterfeit notes in circulation remains small, there are ever evolving new techniques that we need to stay ahead of.

Offset Printing

Currency printing is built on the principal of layering each printing process on the substrate.  Each print technology has a unique fingerprint on how the ink transfers from the plate, the inks they use and how it lays on the substrate, thereby building security into the currency with every production step.

The first step is adding color through offset printing.  To accomplish this, BEP has three offset printing presses in D.C., and four in our Texas facility.  On this press, the face and back of the sheet is printed at the same time.  All denominations, excluding the $1 and $2 notes, are printed in offset first, where detailed background images using unique colors are blended together as they are added to “blank” currency sheets.

The background colors are then printed by state-of-the-art, high speed, sheet-fed, presses.  These massive machines are more than 50 feet long and weigh more than 70 tons capable of reaching speeds of 10,000 sheets per hour.  In addition to online computer inspection, press operators will pull a sheet after every 500 impressions (approximately), and carefully examine it to ensure that the colors and alignment (which we call “registration”) remain consistent to our rigorous quality standards.

Intaglio – (also called Plate Printing or Steel Plate Printing)

Intaglio is the next layer of the printing process for the denominations that went through offset, and the first stage of printing for the $1 and the $2 notes.  Here, ink is applied to the engraved plate.  The excess ink is removed from the non-image area of the plate, thereby leaving ink only in the engraved recessed areas.  Paper is then laid on top of the plate, and the two are pressed together under great pressure.  As a result, the ink from the recessed areas is pulled onto the paper, creating a slightly raised finished image.  When dried, the tactility feels like fine sandpaper.  Intaglio printing is very specialized and used on high value negotiable documents like currency and portions of passports.  Intaglio is used for the portraits, vignettes, scrollwork, numerals and lettering that is unique to each denomination.

BEP’s intaglio presses have the latest technology to ensure the highest of quality and security of U.S. currency.  The presses each weigh 57 tons and print with up to 20 tons of pressure.  They can produce at speeds of 10,000 sheets per hour and can produce 32 or 50 notes per sheet.

The intaglio presses first print the back of the currency sheets in green ink.  The sheets are then taken to a vault to dry for three days.  A common work-in-process vault might contain $50 to $100 million of notes at any one time, depending on the denomination being printed.  After the ink on the paper is dry, the faces of the notes are printed with black ink.  The notes will dry again for another three days before going on to the next phase of production.  At any given moment within the Washington, D.C. facility, for instance, there may be up to $300 million dollars in various phases of production.

Offline Currency Inspection System (OCIS)

To ensure only the highest quality sheets move to the numbering operation, sheets are thoroughly examined using OCIS, a state-of-the-art computer system integrated with cameras and sophisticated custom-built software to divide each note into 125,000 pixels or 4,000,000 pixels for the entire sheet at a speed of 2½ sheets per second.  OCIS completely analyzes loads for quantity and quality of untrimmed printed sheets inspecting both sides of the currency sheets. Good sheets proceed forward for
numbering while rejected sheets are numbers and processed through a single note processing machine.

Single Note Inspection (SNI) inspects and sorts finished numbered notes from the defective OCIS sheets, reclaiming good notes from destruction.  These fit notes are either recovered from the finished product on quality-hold, or reclaimed from the standard production waste streams.

Letterpress Printing

The third and final printed layer of U.S. currency is letterpress printing.  During this process, the press feeds two 16-subject sheets of currency and prints two green serial numbers, the black universal Federal Reserve seal, the green Department of the Treasury seal, and the corresponding Federal Reserve identification numbers.  BEP currency uses two types of letterpress equipment.

Currency Overprinting Processing Equipment and Packaging (COPE/PAK)

At BEP we love acronyms.  COPE/PAK combines a rotary letterpress and an automated finishing and packaging line.  COPE presses have been specially designed for BEP to print and process 32-subject sheets of currency.  100-sheet stacks pass through two sharp guillotine cutters.  The first cut is made horizontally, leaving the notes in pairs.  The second cut is made vertically, and for the first time you see individual notes, 100 to a pile.  These are bound with denomination bands.

In the COPE/PAK section, there is a machine called “1,000 note bander.”  The rotating carousel collects 10 packages of notes and bands them together, resulting in a stack of 1,000 notes (one bundle).  These notes are then shrink wrapped and a bar code is affixed, which contains the notes’ serial numbers and Federal Reserve Bank information.

The next rotating carousel shrink wraps four of these bundles into a final currency brick containing 4,000 notes.  As a final stage, the four bricks are collated together and shrink wrapped into a 16,000 note Cash Pak.  From there, they are placed into the vault to await pick-up by the Federal Reserve.  One brick of $100 bills would contain $400,000; one skid of those bricks would contain $64 million.

Large Examining Printing Equipment (LEPE)

LEPE represents the newest generation in numbering and processing equipment for BEP.  In February 2014, BEP ushered in a new era by printing currency on 50-subject sheets versus 32 notes per sheet.  Sitting at 144 feet long, these mammoth machines are state-of-the-art, specifically designed for BEP, combining multiple currency production processes at once:  full sheet examination, letterpress printing functions, product verification, and cutting and packaging currency.  Currently, only $1 and $5 notes are produced in 50-subject sheet format.  The $20 note is next in line for transition into the larger format and is scheduled to be in production by summer 2022.

Currency Redesign

Currency Redesign
Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Federal Reserve notes are a global reserve currency that must meet broad, unique needs:  authentication, counterfeit deterrence through multiple levels of overt and covert security features, and function in banknote machines for merchants, commercial banks and Reserve Banks.
 

Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence Committee

Leading the redesign charge is the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence (ACD) Steering Committee, comprised of stakeholders from Treasury, BEP, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Reserve System and the U.S. Secret Service.  In addition to the modernization of equipment, emerging technologies, and exclusive, state-of-the-art security features, currency redesign requires a carefully planned and collaborative process across the U.S. Currency Program.

 

Primary Purpose of Redesign:  Security

Notes must be resistant to increasingly sophisticated counterfeit attacks – security is the primary purpose of redesign.  Careful integration of exclusive security features is the critical foundation to keep cash safe, secure and to ensure the stability of the U.S. economy.  Modern technology allows for higher-quality counterfeits.  New features, closely aligned with and integrated into new design, are developed to address this threat.  More than a decade of research and development, followed by years of optimization and integration testing into the banknote, is required to ensure the successful deployment of these features into U.S. currency.

Once security features are selected and successfully integrated into designs, new equipment and raw materials may also be required.  New equipment or raw materials require a comprehensive procurement process as well as extensive acceptance testing to ensure they meet rigorous manufacturing and quality standards at production volumes.

 

Banknote Testing

Testing activities are critically important for the U.S. Currency Program to mitigate manufacturing risks and ensure acceptance in commerce.  The Banknote Development  Process calls for extensive testing which can take years to successfully complete.  The process calls for progressively more mature tests – with each test resulting in lessons learned to improve subsequent tests until banknotes are ready for production and issuance.  This process is complex and time consuming, and requires comprehensive assessments of results, data analysis, design and feature modifications and modifications of consumables, press equipment and materials.

It is important to note that there are more than 10 million banknote equipment machines worldwide that process U.S. currency.  The final step prior to full-scale production and issuance is to facilitate machine readiness in order to ensure that the newly redesigned notes are accepted and function flawlessly in commerce.  To ensure this occurs, BEP provides samples of newly designed notes to Banknote Equipment Manufacturers and the Federal Reserve System’s Currency Technology Office to prepare these cash handling machines to make acceptance determinations of the new design.

 

Public Education

Note designs are typically made public six to eight months ahead of time for global public education and cash handler education purposes.  To do so earlier would aid counterfeiters and cause confusion in the marketplace, lowering confidence in U.S. currency.  Note “concepts” are not released earlier for these same reasons.  Designs and concepts evolve throughout the development process to ensure manufacturability and optimal levels of security.

 

Current Schedule

The current denomination sequence and planned issuance dates have been in development with the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence Committee since 2011:  $10 (2026), $50 (2028), $20 (2030), $5 (2032) and $100 (2034).  This sequence addresses risk mitigation and counterfeiting concerns.

Watch our $100 podcast to learn more about all that goes into banknote design!
 

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Serial Numbers

Serial Numbers
Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Each note of the same denomination has its own serial number.  Up through Series 1995, all Federal Reserve notes had serial numbers consisting of one letter, eight digits, and one letter, such as A12345678B; now only the $1 and $2 notes still use this form.
 

The first letter of such a serial number identifies the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) which issued the note; since there are 12 FRBs, this letter is always between A and L.  The last letter advances through the alphabet when all eight character serial numbers have been printed for a specific Federal Reserve Bank within the same series.  At the time of a series change, the suffix letter returns to the letter A and repeats the cycle.

The letter O is not used because of its similarity to the digit 0, and the letter Z is not used because it is reserved for test printings.  On some notes, a star appears in place of the last letter.  When an imperfect sheet is detected during the manufacturing process after the serial number has been overprinted, it must be replaced with a new sheet.  A "star" sheet is used to replace the imperfect sheet.  Reusing an exact serial number to replace an imperfect note is costly and time consuming.  A "star" note has its own special serial number followed by a star in place of a suffix letter.

Federal Reserve notes, beginning with Series 1996, have two letters rather than one at the beginning of the serial number.  On these notes, the first letter corresponds to the series of the note and the second letter of each serial number now represents the issuing FRB and ranges from A through L.  The last letter still can be anything but O or Z, and is still occasionally replaced by a star, with the same meaning as before.
 

Serial Numbers - Series Year and Serial Number Relationship Table

Denomination Secretary/Treasurer Series First Prefix
$20 Rubin/Withrow 1996 A
$50 Rubin/Withrow 1996 A
$100 Rubin/Withrow 1996 A
$1 Summers/Withrow 1999 *
$5 Summers/Withrow 1999 B
$10 Summers/Withrow 1999 B
$20 Summers/Withrow 1999 B
$100 Summers/Withrow 1999 B
$1 O'Neil/Marin 2001 *
$5 O'Neil/Marin 2001 C
$10 O'Neil/Marin 2001 C
$20 O'Neil/Marin 2001 C
$50 O'Neil/Marin 2001 C
$100 O'Neil/Marin 2001 C
$1 Snow/Marin 2003 *
$2 Snow/Marin 2003 *
$10 Snow/Marin 2003 D
$100 Snow/Marin 2003 D
$1 Snow/Cabral 2003A *
$2 Snow/Cabral 2003A *
$5 Snow/Cabral 2003A F
$100 Snow/Cabral 2003A F
$20 Snow/Marin 2004 E
$50 Snow/Marin 2004 E
$10 Snow/Cabral 2004A G
$20 Snow/Cabral 2004A G
$50 Snow/Cabral 2004A G
$5 Paulson/Cabral 2006 H
$100 Paulson/Cabral 2006 H
$100 Paulson/Cabral 2006A K
$20 Paulson/Cabral 2006 I
$1 Paulson/Cabral 2006 *
$5 Paulson/Cabral 2006 I
$10 Paulson/Cabral 2006 I
$50 Paulson/Cabral 2006 I
$1 Geithner/Rios 2009 *
$2 Geithner/Rios 2009 *
$10 Geithner/Rios 2009 J
$20 Geithner/Rios 2009 J
$50 Geithner/Rios 2009 J
$100 Geithner/Rios 2009 J
$100 Geithner/Rios 2009A L
$1 Lew/Rios 2013 *
$5 Lew/Rios 2013 M
$10 Lew/Rios 2013 M
$20 Lew/Rios 2013 M
$50 Lew/Rios 2013 M
$100 Lew/Rios 2013 M
$1 Mnuchin/Carranza 2017 *
$10 Mnuchin/Carranza 2017 N
$20 Mnuchin/Carranza 2017 N
$1 Mnuchin/Carranza 2017 *
$2 MnuChin/Carranza 2017A P
$5 Mnuchin/Carranza 2017A P
$10 Mnuchin/Carranza 2017A P
$20 Mnuchin/Carranza 2017A P
$50 Mnuchin/Carranza 2017A P
$100 Mnuchin/Carranza 2017A P

* The prefix letter on the serial number for denominations $5 and higher indicates the note series.  It changes whenever the series year or series year suffix letter changes.  This prefix letter was added to the serial numbers on $5 and higher notes starting with Series 1996.  The $1 and $2 notes do not have this prefix letter.

 

Serial numbers - Federal Reserve Bank and Serial Number Relationship Table

Reserve Bank Letter Designation Number Designation Serial Number 2nd Prefix Letter*
Boston A 1 A
New York B 2 B
Philadelphia C 3 C
Cleveland D 4 D
Richmond E 5 E
Atlanta F 6 F
Chicago G 7 G
St. Louis H 8 H
Minneapolis I 9 I
Kansas City J 10 J
Dallas K 11 K
San Francisco L 12 L

 

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance
Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Every day, BEP works diligently to create processes that help consistently improve the quality, safety and efficiency of currency manufacturing.  We invest time into improving manufacturing workflows and we are proud to be certified to the ISO 9001:2015 standard for quality management systems.
 

Our Quality Policy

Everything we do supports producing secure, high-quality banknotes that meet customer requirements.  We are committed to continually improving products and processes and investing in our employees and equipment that enable that improvement.

Our objectives are to provide excellent service and quality products to our customers, to ensure products meet customer quality requirements, and to continuously improve manufacturing operations and prevention capabilities.
 

ISO 9001:2015 Certification

The ISO 9001:2015 standard is specifically meant to establish the criteria needed for a company’s quality management system—i.e., the way that the organization ensures that it can consistently provide quality products/services that meet any applicable regulatory standards.

As noted on the ISO website, “This standard is based on a number quality management principles including a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement.”

This quality management system appraisal and certification is meant to be industry and size agnostic—ISO 9001 can be applied to nearly any business regardless of size or what they do.

Following ISO 9001 standards helps businesses organize their processes so they can make continuous, steady improvements to their quality, efficiency, and other key performance metrics over time.  This helps make the business more competitive than its non-ISO certified counterparts.

History

HistoryAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Fri, 03/11/2022 - 12:54
Black and White photo of woman looking at currency sheet


The Bureau of Engraving and Printing had its foundations in 1862 with workers signing, separating, and trimming sheets of Demand Notes in the Treasury building.
 

Gradually, more and more work, including engraving and printing, was entrusted to the organization.  Within a few years, BEP was producing Fractional Currency, revenue stamps, government obligations, and other security documents for many federal agencies.  In 1877, BEP became the sole producer of all United States currency.  The addition of postage stamp production to its workload in 1894 established BEP as the nation's security printer, responding to the needs of the U.S. government in both times of peace and war.  Today, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing no longer produces government obligations or postage stamps, but it still holds the honor of being the largest producer of government security documents with production facilities in Washington, D.C. and in Fort Worth, Texas.

The centrality of BEP to the financial, monetary, postal and printing developments of the United States since the Civil War has made it a repository of numerous invaluable historic items.  At the same time, BEP's history reflects and provides a unique perspective on the development of modern America. These facts have long been recognized by BEP, which is devoted to the preservation and exploration of its own past.  Some of the work of the curatorial, archival, and historical efforts of BEP are presented on this website.

 

1690
Colonial Notes

The Massachusetts Bay Colony, one of the 13 original colonies, issues the first paper money to cover costs of military expeditions.  The practice of issuing paper notes spread to the other colonies.

 

1739
Franklin's Unique Counterfeit Deterrent

Benjamin Franklin's printing firm in Philadelphia prints colonial notes with nature prints--unique raised impressions of patterns cast from actual leaves.  This process added an innovative and effective counterfeit deterrent to notes, not completely understood until centuries later.

 

1775
Continental Currency

The Continental Congress issues paper currency to finance the Revolutionary War. Continental currency was denominated in Spanish milled dollars.  Without solid backing and easily counterfeited, the notes quickly lost their value, giving rise to the phrase "not worth a Continental."

 

1792
Monetary System

The Coinage Act of 1792 creates the U.S. Mint and establishes a federal monetary system, sets denominations for coins, and specifies the value of each coin in gold, silver or copper.

 

1861
Greenbacks

The first general circulation of paper money by the federal government occurs.  Pressed to finance the Civil War, Congress authorizes the U.S. Treasury to issue non-interest-bearing Demand Notes.  All U.S. currency issued since 1861 remains valid and redeemable at full face value.

 

1861
First $10 Bills – Demand Notes

The first $10 notes are Demand Notes, issued in 1861 by the Treasury Department.  A portrait of President Abraham Lincoln is included on the face of the notes.

 

1862
Treasury Department Authorization

The Treasury Secretary is authorized to engrave and print notes at the Treasury Department; the design of which incorporates fine-line engraving, intricate geometric lathe work patterns, a Treasury seal, and engraved signatures to aid in counterfeit deterrence.

 

1862
Spencer Clark

Spencer M. Clark, Chief Clerk in the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Construction, obtains presses for the Treasury’s Loan Branch for overprinting seals on notes.  About the same time, Clark experiments with two hand-crank machines for trimming and separating. Later that year, Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase directs Clark to proceed with trials using steam-powered machines to trim, separate and seal $1 and $2 United States Notes.

 

1863
National Banknotes

Congress establishes a national banking system and authorizes the U.S. Treasury to oversee the issuance of National Banknotes.  This system sets federal guidelines for chartering and regulating "national" banks and authorizes those banks to issue national currency secured by the purchase of United States bonds.  These notes are printed by private companies and finished by the BEP until 1875, when BEP begins printing the faces.

 

1863
Fractional Currency

Fractional Currency notes, in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, are issued.  This is the first currency produced entirely at the Treasury Department.

 

1864
The 5-cent note of the second issue of Fractional Currency features the portrait of Spencer Clark, causing a public uproar.  It is unclear how Clark’s portrait ended up on the note, but in 1866, Congress prohibits the portrait or likeness of any living person on currency notes, bonds, or securities.

 

1865
The United States Secret Service is established as a bureau of the Treasury for the purpose of deterring counterfeiters whose activities are destroying the public’s confidence in the nation's currency.  The Secret Service is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.

 

1865
Gold Certificates

Gold Certificates, backed by gold held by the Treasury, are first issued.  Along with Fractional Currency, Gold Certificates are one of the first currency issues produced entirely by BEP.

 

1866
Revenue Stamps

The BEP begins producing revenue stamps to be placed on boxes of imported cigars.

 

1869
United States Notes

The BEP begins engraving and printing the faces and seals of United States Notes, Series 1869.  Prior to this time, United States Notes were produced by private banknote companies and then sent to BEP for sealing, trimming and cutting.

 

1874
Bureau of Engraving and Printing

For the first time, Congress allocates money specifically to a “Bureau of Engraving and Printing” for fiscal year 1875.

 

1876
Congress passes an appropriation bill that directs the Internal Revenue Service to procure stamps engraved and printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing – provided costs do not exceed that of private firms.  As a result, BEP begins producing almost all revenue stamps in fiscal year 1878.

 

1877
The BEP begins printing all United States currency.

 

1878
Silver Certificates

Silver Certificates are first issued.  Backed by silver held by the Treasury, the certificates are authorized by legislation directing an increase in the purchase and coinage of silver. 

 

1880
First Facility

The first building constructed specifically for BEP operations is completed at the corner of 14th Street and B Street (Independence Avenue).

 

1890
Treasury Coin Notes

Treasury Notes, also known as Treasury Coin Notes, are first issued as part of legislation requiring the Treasury Secretary to increase government purchases of silver bullion.

 

1894
Postage Stamps

The BEP begins printing postage stamps. The first BEP-printed stamp issued is the 6 cent President Garfield.

 

1900
The first issue of postage stamps in small booklets is produced.

 

1905
Paper Currency with Background Color

The last United States paper money printed with background color is the $20 Gold Certificate, Series 1905, which had a golden tint and a red seal and serial number.

 

1912
Offset Printing

Offset printing is first used at BEP for the production of checks, certificates and other miscellaneous items.

 

1913
Federal Reserve Act

The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 establishes the Federal Reserve as the nation’s central bank and provides for a national banking system that is more responsive to the fluctuating financial needs of the country.  Federal Reserve Bank Notes are authorized by the Federal Reserve Act and used as a form of emergency currency in the early twentieth century.  The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System then issues new notes called Federal Reserve notes.

 

1914
The first $10 Federal Reserve Notes

The first $10 Federal Reserve notes are issued.  These notes are larger than today’s notes and feature a portrait of President Andrew Jackson on the face.

 

1914
New DC Facility

The BEP moves into a new, larger facility, later known as the “Main Building".

 

1929
Federal Reserve Note Standardized Design

The first sweeping change to affect the appearance of all paper money occurs in 1929.  In an effort to lower manufacturing costs, all Federal Reserve notes are made about 30 percent smaller.  The reduced size enables BEP to convert from eight to 12 notes per sheet.  In addition, standardized designs are instituted for each denomination across all classes of currency, decreasing the number of different designs in circulation.  This standardization makes it easier for the public to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit notes.

 

1938
Annex Building

BEP operations begin in the “Annex Building".  The building is officially dedicated in November, 1938.

 

1939
Food Stamps

The BEP begins printing Food Order and Surplus Food Order stamps.  The Cotton Order and Surplus Cotton Order stamps follow in 1940.  The stamps encourage consumption of surplus farm commodities while providing assistance to low-income consumers.

 

1942
Hawaii Overprints

The BEP receives an order for special $1, $5, $10, and $20 notes overprinted with the word “Hawaii.”  The overprinted notes replace regular currency in Hawaii.  In the event of enemy occupation of the islands, the overprinted currency can be declared worthless.

 

1943
Allied Military Currency

The War Department places an order for Allied Military Currency (AMC).  The first AMCs are used by Allied forces in Italy.  Production begins in July, 1943.

 

1946
Military Payment Certificates

The BEP begins work on Military Payment Certificates for use by U.S. troops.

 

1951
Congressional Appropriations

The BEP begins operating on a reimbursable basis in accordance with a legislative mandate to convert to business-type accounting methods.  As a result, annual Congressional appropriations cease.

 

1952
18-Subject Sheets

The BEP begins conversion from 12- to 18-subject sheets in currency production.  The use of larger sheets is made possible by new non-offsetting ink.  By reducing wetting and drying operations, distortion of paper is decreased.  By September 1953, all currency is produced from 18-subject plates.

 

1957
In God We Trust

Following a 1955 law that requires “In God We Trust” on all currency, the motto first appears on paper money on series 1957 $1 silver certificates, then on 1963 series Federal Reserve notes.

 

1957
32-Subject Sheets

The BEP begins producing currency on high-speed rotary presses that print notes via the dry intaglio process.  Paper distortion caused by wetting is now completely eliminated and sheet sizes increase from 18- to 32-subjects.  The first notes printed by this process are the series 1957 silver certificates.

 

1968
Barr Notes

Joseph W. Barr served as Secretary of the Treasury from December 21, 1968 to January 20, 1969.  There are fewer notes bearing his facsimile signature than notes imprinted with signatures of other Secretaries of the Treasury because of his short tenure in that office.

 

1969
High-Denomination Notes

The Treasury Secretary announces that currency in denominations larger than $100 will no longer be issued.  Last printed in 1945, the high-denomination notes had been used mainly by banking institutions, but advances in bank transfer technologies preclude their further use.

 

1976
$2 Federal Reserve Note

The $2 Federal Reserve note is re-introduced on the 233rd anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth.  Issuance of the $2 United States Note had been halted in 1966 as United States Notes were phased out of existence.

 

1990
Security Thread and Microprinting

A security thread and microprinting are introduced to deter counterfeiting by advanced copiers and printers.  The features first appear in Series 1990 $100 notes.  By Series 1993, the features appeared on all denominations except $1 and $2 notes.

 

1990
Western Currency Facility

The BEP’s Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas begins producing currency.  It is the first government facility outside Washington, D.C. to print United States paper money.  The facility is intended to better serve the currency needs of the western half of the nation and to act as a contingency operation in case of emergencies at the D.C. facility.

 

1996
Currency Redesign

In the first significant design change in 67 years, United States currency is redesigned to incorporate a series of new counterfeit deterrents.  The new notes are issued beginning with the $100 note in 1996, followed by the $50 in 1997, the $20 in 1998, and the $10 and $5 notes in 2000.

 

2003
Redesigned $20 Note

For the first time since the Series 1905 $20 Gold Certificate, the new currency features subtle background colors, beginning with the redesigned $20 note on October 9, 2003.  The redesigned $20 note features subtle background colors of green, peach and blue, as well as images of the American eagle.

 

2004
Redesigned $50 Note

The currency redesigns continue with the $50 note, issued on September 28, 2004.  Similar to the redesigned $20 note, the redesigned $50 note features subtle background colors and highlights historical symbols of Americana.  Specific to the $50 note are background colors of blue and red, and images of a waving American flag and a small metallic silver-blue star.

 

2005
Final Postage Stamp Run

The BEP produces its final run of postage stamps, printing the 37-cent Flag on the Andreotti gravure press.  Redesigned $10 Note2006A redesigned Series 2004A $10 note is issued on March 2, 2006.  The A in the series designation indicates a change in some feature of the note, in this case, a change in the Treasurer's signature.  Like the redesigned $20 and $50 notes, the redesigned $10 note features subtle shades of color and symbols of freedom.  Specific to the $10 note are background colors of orange, yellow and red, and images of the Statue of Liberty's torch and the words, We the People, from the United States Constitution.

 

2008
Redesigned $5 Note

A redesigned Series 2006 $5 note is issued on March 13, 2008.  The redesigned $5 note retains two of the most important security features first introduced in the 1990s:  the watermark and embedded security thread.

 

2013
Redesigned $100 Note

On October 8, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System issues the redesigned $100 note.  Complete with advanced technology to combat counterfeiting, the new design for the $100 note retains the traditional look of U.S. currency.

 

2014
50-Subject Printing

On February 14, BEP ushers in a new era by completing its first $1 note 50-subject production order.  Fifty-subject and 32-subject notes are distinguishable by one minor technical change.  On a 50-subject produced note, the letter and number of the alpha numeric note-position identifier, is the same font size and smaller than the alpha letter of the 32-subject note.  In comparison, on the 32-subject note, the number is a smaller font size compared to the letter.

Historical Currency

Historical CurrencyAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25
$100,000 Gold Certificate

United States currency denominations above $100 are not available from the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve System, or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. On July 14, 1969, the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System announced that currency notes in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 would be discontinued immediately due to lack of use. Although they were issued until 1969, they were last printed in 1945.

Specific examples of these higher denominations include the $500 Note (Blue Seal), $500 Note (Green Seal), $1000 Note (Blue Seal), $1000 Note (Green Seal), $5000 Note (Blue Seal), $10,000 Note (Blue Seal), $10,000 Note (Green Seal), and the $100,000 Gold Certificate

These notes are legal tender and may be found in circulation today; however, most notes still in circulation are probably in the hands of private numismatic dealers and collectors. If you are interested in purchasing or learning more about these larger denominations, more resources may be available online or at your local library.

The largest note ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 Gold Certificate, Series 1934. These notes were printed from December 18, 1934 through January 9, 1935 and were issued by the Treasurer of the United States to Federal Reserve Banks (FRB) only against an equal amount of gold bullion held by the Treasury. These notes were used for transactions between FRBs and were not circulated among the general public.

$500 Note (Blue Seal)

$500 Note (Blue Seal)
$500 Note Face (Blue Seal)
$500 Note Back (Blue Seal)
Series: 1918
Portrait: John Marshall
Back Vignette: DeSoto Discovering the Mississippi in 1541

Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

$500 Note (Green Seal)

$500 Note (Green Seal)
$500 Note - Back (Green Seal)
$500 Note - Back (Green Seal)
Series: 1928 & 1934
Portrait: William McKinley

Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

$1,000 Note (Blue Seal)

$1,000 Note (Blue Seal)
$10,000 Note - Face (Blue Seal)
$10,000 Note - Back (Blue Seal)
Series: 1918
Portrait: Alexander Hamilton
Back Vignette: Eagle

Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

$1,000 Note (Green Seal)

$1,000 Note (Green Seal)
$10,000 Note - Face (Green Seal)
$10,000 Note - Back (Green Seal)
Series: 1928
Portrait: Grover Cleveland
Back Vignette: The United States of America - One Thousand Dollars

Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

$5,000 Note (Blue Seal)

$5,000 Note (Blue Seal)
$5000 Note - Face (Blue Seal)
$5000 Note - Back (Blue Seal)
Series: 1918
Portrait: James Madison
Back Vignette: Washington Resigning his Commission

Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

$10,000 Note (Blue Seal)

$10,000 Note (Blue Seal)
$10,000 Note - Face (Blue Seal)
$10,000 Note - Back (Blue Seal)
Series: 1918
Portrait: Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury (1861-1864)
Back Vignette: The Embarkation of the Pilgrims

Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

$10,000 Note (Green Seal)

$10,000 Note (Green Seal)
$10,000 Note - Face (Green Seal)
$10,000 Note - Back (Green Seal)
Series: 1928, 1934, 1934A & 1934B
Portrait: Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury (1861-1864)
Back Vignette: The United States of America - Ten Thousand Dollars - 10,000

Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

$100,000 Gold Certificate

$100,000 Gold Certificate
$100,000 Gold Certificate - Face
$100,000 Gold Certificate - Back
Series: 1934
Portrait: Woodrow Wilson
Back Vignette: The United States of America - 100,000 - One Hundred Thousand Dollars

Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/31/2022 - 15:41

The $100,000 Gold Certificate was used only for official transactions between Federal Reserve Banks and was not circulated among the general public. This note cannot be legally held by currency note collectors.

Image Gallery

Image GalleryAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Since its establishment in 1862, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has accumulated around two million objects that touch upon its history as the security printer of the United States.  These artifacts are often derived from the process of producing currency, stamps, and other miscellaneous products and include art work, printed proofs of engravings, and final products.  There are also numerous photographs depicting the people, places, and processes of the BEP.

While BEP products such as currency and stamps can be easily viewed across the Internet, this Image Gallery presents those items that are not so readily available.

The objects presented here have been selected for their fine artistic merit as well as their uniqueness in illustrating various facets of BEP’s and America’s past.   The images are organized by the topics listed below.  Click the topic to access a collection of images and click on the image to view an enlarged image of the object.

Engravings

Proof, vignette, Eagle

Photographs

Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew and Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios holding bricks of $100 notes.

Miscellaneous Products

Approved plate proof, Admission Ticket to Woodrow Wilson Memorial Exercises

Engravings

EngravingsAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Miscellaneous Products

Miscellaneous ProductsAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Photographs

PhotographsAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Photographs 2

Photographs 2Alison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Miscellaneous Products

Engravings

Artwork

Photographs

(click thumbnails to see larger image and description)

Page 1 2

Photo Album Gallery Place Holder - Please wait while the Photo Album loads.

If the album does not show, please refresh the page to try again.

Production Figures

Production FiguresAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Wed, 01/19/2022 - 13:18

The BEP delivers Federal Reserve notes to the Federal Reserve System based on a Yearly Currency Order placed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

 

Annual Production Reports

Annual Production ReportsAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25
Denomination FY 2020
$1 1,574,400,000
$2 N/A
$5 467,200,000
$10 460,800,000
$20 1,721,600,000
$50 236,800,000
$100 1,334,400,000

 

Denomination FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019
$1 2,451,200,000 2,425,600,000 2,425,600,000 2,163,200,000 2,137,600,000
$2 32,000,000 179,200,000 N/A N/A 160,000,000
$5 755,200,000 819,200,000 915,200,000 825,600,000 736,000,000
$10 627,000,000 480,000,000 262,400,000 569,600,000 339,200,000
$20 1,868,800,000 1,939,200,000 1,715,200,000 1,862,400,000 1,356,800,000
$50 220,800,000 224,000,000 268,800,000 364,800,000 224,000,000
$100 1,078,400,000 1,516,800,000 1,516,800,000 1,753,600,000 1,484,800,000

 

Denomination FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014
$1 1,856,000,000 2,918,400,000 2,022,400,000 1,792,000,000 2,278,400,000
$2 N/A N/A 134,400,000 N/A     32,000,000
$5     352,000,000  486,400,000 729,600,000 480,000,000 563,200,000
$10 N/A 499,200,000 652,800,000 313,600,000 486,400,000
$20 2,265,600,000 902,400,000 1,568,000,000 518,400,000 1,785,600,000
$50 N/A 179,200,000 246,400,000 246,400,000 220,800,000
$100 1,907,200,000 723,200,000 3,027,200,000 4,428,800,000 640,000,000

 

Denomination FY 2005 FY 2006 FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009
$1 3,475,200,000 4,512,000,000 4,147,200,000 3,577,600,000 2,636,800,000
$2 N/A 230,400,000 N/A N/A N/A
$5 576,000,000 800,000,000 1,401,600,000 1,203,200,000 384,000,000
$10 512,000,000 851,200,000 83,200,000 1,094,400,000 345,600,000
$20 3,059,200,000 889,600,000 1,971,200,000 633,600,000 716,800,000
$50 345,600,000 N/A 428,800,000 N/A 371,200,000
$100 668,800,000 950,400,000 1,088,000,000 1,209,600,000 1,785,600,000

 

Denomination FY 2000 FY 2001 FY 2002 FY 2003 FY 2004
$1 5,190,400,000 5,145,600,000 2,880,000,000 3,699,200,000 4,147,200,000
$2 N/A N/A N/A N/A 121,600,000
$5 640,000,000 979,200,000 1,350,400,000 550,400,000 627,200,000
$10 492,800,000 652,800,000 1,100,800,000 249,600,000 403,200,000
$20 2,707,200,000 1,017,600,000 1,068,800,000 2,700,800,000 2,707,200,000
$50 N/A N/A N/A 102,400,000 211,200,000
$100 N/A 201,600,000 604,800,000 854,400,000 515,200,000

 

Denomination FY 1995 FY 1996 FY 1997 FY 1998 FY 1999
$1 4,428,800,000 4,166,400,000 4,646,400,000 3,814,400,000 3,539,200,000
$2 N/A 51,200,000 102,400,000 N/A N/A
$5 992,000,000 1,158,400,000 896,000,000 857,600,000 832,000,000
$10 672,000,000 1,011,200,000 998,400,000 761,600,000 614,400,000
$20 2,476,800,000 1,363,200,000 1,881,600,000 2,278,400,000 4,134,400,000
$50 147,200,000 441,600,000 406,400,000 723,200,000 694,400,000
$100 595,200,000 1,251,200,000 649,600,000 764,800,000 1,542,400,000

 

Denomination FY 1990 FY 1991 FY 1992 FY 1993 FY 1994
$1 3,148,800,000 3,212,800,000 4,089,600,000 3,513,600,000 4,563,200,000
$5 912,000,000 979,200,000 787,200,000 1,126,400,000 1,004,800,000
$10 771,200,000 812,800,000 1,036,800,000 640,800,000 793,600,000
$20 1,801,600,000 1,926,400,000 1,760,000,000 2,169,600,000 2,252,800,000
$50 128,000,000 128,000,000 556,800,000 259,200,000 115,200,000
$100 240,000,000 956,800,000 217,600,000 323,200,000 604,800,000

 

Denomination FY 1985 FY 1986 FY 1987 FY 1988 FY 1989
$1 2,851,200,000 3,123,200,000 3,232,000,000 2,960,000,000 2,860,800,000
$5 777,600,000 844,800,000 780,800,000 745,600,000 835,200,000`
$10 784,000,000 678,000,000 697,600,000 652,800,000 771,200,000
$20 1,449,600,000 1,475,200,000 1,472,000,000 1,350,400,000 1,526,400,000
$50 137,600,000 182,400,000 195,200,000 144,400,000 134,400,000
$100 160,000,000 176,000,000 217,600,000 160,000,000 201,600,000

 

Denomination FY 1980 FY 1981 FY 1982 FY 1983 FY 1984
$1 1,939,840,000 1,954,560,000 2,040,320,000 2,229,760,000 2,771,200,000
$5 427,520,000 519,680,000 614,400,000 583,680,000 716,800,000
$10 495,360,000 536,320,000 540,160,000 592,640,000 812,800,000
$20 634,880,000 812,800,000 683,520,000 994,560,000 1,292,800,000
$50 56,960,000 67,200,000 94,720,000 115,200,000 128,000,000
$100 100,480,000 118,400,000 108,800,000 85,760,000 137,600,000

Figures shown represent number of notes printed.

 

Monthly Production Reports

Monthly Production ReportsAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Mon, 01/10/2022 - 14:25

Fiscal Year 2022

OCT
2021

NOV
2021

DEC
2021
JAN
2022
FEB
2022
MAR
2022
             

 

Fiscal Year 2021

OCT
2020

NOV
2020

DEC
2020
JAN
2021
FEB
2021
MAR
2021
APR
2021
MAY
2021
JUN
2021
JUL
2021
AUG
2021
SEP
2021

 

Fiscal Year 2020

OCT
2019

NOV
2019

DEC
2019
JAN
2020
FEB
2020
MAR
2020
APR
2020
MAY
2020
JUN
2020
JUL
2020
AUG
2020
SEP
2020

 

Fiscal Year 2019

OCT
2018

NOV
2018

DEC
2018
JAN
2019
FEB
2019
MAR
2019
APR
2019
MAY
2019
JUN
2019
JUL
2019
AUG
2019
SEP
2019

 

Fiscal Year 2018

OCT
2017

NOV
2017

DEC
2017
JAN
2018
FEB
2018
MAR
2018
APR
2018
MAY
2018
JUN
2018
JUL
2018
AUG
2018
SEP
2018

 

Fiscal Year 2017

OCT
2016

NOV
2016

DEC
2016
JAN
2017
FEB
2017
MAR
2017
APR
2017
MAY
2017
JUN
2017
JUL
2017
AUG
2017
SEP
2017

 

Fiscal Year 2016

OCT
2015

NOV
2015

DEC
2015
JAN
2016
FEB
2016
MAR
2016
APR
2016
MAY
2016
JUN
2016
JUL
2016
AUG
2016
SEP
2016

 

Fiscal Year 2015

OCT
2014

NOV
2014

DEC
2014
JAN
2015
FEB
2015
MAR
2015
APR
2015
MAY
2015
JUN
2015
JUL
2015
AUG
2015
SEP
2015

 

Fiscal Year 2014

OCT
2013

NOV
2013

DEC
2013
JAN
2014
FEB
2014
MAR
2014
APR
2014
MAY
2014
JUN
2014
JUL
2014
AUG
2014
SEP
2014

 

Fiscal Year 2013

OCT
2012

NOV
2012

DEC
2012
JAN
2013
FEB
2013
MAR
2013
APR
2013
MAY
2013
JUN
2013
JUL
2013
AUG
2013
SEP
2013

 

Fiscal Year 2012

OCT
2011

NOV
2011

DEC
2011
JAN
2012
FEB
2012
MAR
2012
APR
2012
MAY
2012
JUN
2012
JUL
2012
AUG
2012
SEP
2012

 

Fiscal Year 2011

OCT
2010

NOV
2010

DEC
2010
JAN
2011
FEB
2011
MAR
2011
APR
2011
MAY
2011
JUN
2011
JUL
2011
AUG
2011
SEP
2011

 

Fiscal Year 2010

OCT
2009

NOV
2009

DEC
2009
JAN
2010
FEB
2010
MAR
2010
APR
2010
MAY
2010
JUN
2010
JUL
2010
AUG
2010
SEP
2010

 

Fiscal Year 2009

OCT
2008

NOV
2008

DEC
2008
JAN
2009
FEB
2009
MAR
2009
APR
2009
MAY
2009
JUN
2009
JUL
2009
AUG
2009
SEP
2009

 

Fiscal Year 2008

OCT
2007

NOV
2007

DEC
2007
JAN
2008
FEB
2008
MAR
2008
APR
2008
MAY
2008
JUN
2008
JUL
2008
AUG
2008
SEP
2008

 

Fiscal Year 2007

OCT
2006

NOV
2006

DEC
2006
JAN
2007
FEB
2007
MAR
2007
APR
2007
MAY
2007
JUN
2007
JUL
2007
AUG
2007
SEP
2007

 

Fiscal Year 2006

OCT
2005

NOV
2005

DEC
2005
JAN
2006
FEB
2006
MAR
2006
APR
2006
MAY
2006
JUN
2006
JUL
2006
AUG
2006
SEP
2006

 

Fiscal Year 2005

OCT
2004

NOV
2004

DEC
2004
JAN
2005
FEB
2005
MAR
2005
APR
2005
MAY
2005
JUN
2005
JUL
2005
AUG
2005
SEP
2005

 

Fiscal Year 2004

OCT
2003

NOV
2003

DEC
2003
JAN
2004
FEB
2004
MAR
2004
APR
2004
MAY
2004
JUN
2004
JUL
2004
AUG
2004
SEP
2004

 

Fiscal Year 2003

OCT
2002

NOV
2002

DEC
2002
JAN
2003
FEB
2003
MAR
2003
APR
2003
MAY
2003
JUN
2003
JUL
2003
AUG
2003
SEP
2003

FAQs

FAQsAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Thu, 01/20/2022 - 10:34

What’s the difference between the BEP and the Mint?
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the Nation’s sole producer of U.S. paper currency.  The BEP advises other federal agencies on document security matters and also produces engraved documents such as military commissions and award certificates, and special security documents for a variety of government agencies.

The United States Mint is the Nation’s sole manufacturer of circulating coins.  The Mint also produces numismatic coins and coin-related products, including proof, uncirculated, and commemorative coins; medals; and silver and gold bullion coins.

 

Does the BEP appraise old currency?
The BEP does not appraise or estimate numismatic values.  We suggest you contact dealers in old or rare currencies for an opinion.  Dealers' names are likely to be found online.  You may also refer to numismatic publications, which contain pictures of the various notes and list suggested prices.

 

I have a $1,000 currency note from the Bank of the United States.  It is dated December 15, 1840 and has the serial number "8894." Can you tell me what it is worth now and where I can cash it in?
This is a currency note from the Bank of the United States and is not an obligation of the United States government.  The Treasury Department did not issue notes intended for circulation as currency until 1862.

It is likely, though, that the note is part of a series of antiqued reproductions issued in various denominations and forms for use in advertising campaigns.  The most popular of these bear the serial number 8894.  These notes are so widespread that they were the subject of an August 5, 1970, article in the monthly numismatic publication, Coin World.

 

What is currency paper made of?
Currency paper is composed of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen.

 

How durable is paper currency?
It would take about 4,000 double folds (first forward and then backwards) before a note will tear.

 

What is the weight of a note?
The approximate weight of a note, regardless of denomination is one gram.

 

Why is green ink used to print U.S. currency?
The reason for the selection of green as the color for the backs of U.S. currency has long been among the more popular questions put to the BEP.  No definite explanation can be made for the original choice; however, it is known that at the time of the introduction of small-sized notes in 1929, the use of green was continued because pigment of that color was readily available in large quantities, the color was relatively high in its resistance to chemical and physical changes, and green was psychologically identified with the strong and stable credit of the government.

 

What is legal tender?
31 USC 5103.  Legal Tender United States coins and currency (including Federal Reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal Reserve Banks and National banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes and dues.  Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.

However, there is no federal statute which mandates that private businesses must accept cash as a form of payment.  Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.

 

What was the highest denomination note ever printed?
The largest note ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 Gold Certificate, Series 1934.  These notes were printed from December 18, 1934, through January 9, 1935, and were issued by the Treasurer of the United States to Federal Reserve Banks only against an equal amount of gold bullion held by the Treasury.  The notes were used for transactions between Federal Reserve Banks and were not circulated among the general public.

 

Is there a $1 million dollar note?
The U.S. government has never issued a $1 million note.  There are, however, “Platinum Certificates” or "One Million Dollar Special Issue Notes.”  These notes are non-negotiable and are not considered legal tender.  Many of these types of notes originated from a special limited copyrighted art series sold by a Canadian firm for $1 each.  Various designs of these types of notes have appeared over the years.  Such items are not redeemable by the Department of the Treasury and are not considered a legal obligation of the United States government.

 

What is a Celebrity Note?
A celebrity note is a note upon which the portraits of well-known personalities (such as Santa Claus and movie stars) are temporarily affixed.  They, for the most part, are found to be genuine United States currency.  Private businesses produce these novelty items by purchasing new currency notes from banks and subsequently apply the picture of a well-known personality over the engraved portrait on the note by means of a pressure-sensitive adhesive.  These businesses then charge their customers premium prices.

There are at least two statutes, 18 USC 333 and 18 USC 475, which may apply to celebrity notes. 18 USC 333 prescribes criminal penalties against anyone who "mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve Bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued".

Additionally, 18 USC 475 prescribes criminal penalties against anyone who "designs, engraves, prints, makes, or executes, or utters, issues, distributes, circulates, or uses any business or professional card, notice, placard, circular, handbill, or advertisement in the likeness or similitude of any obligation or security of the United States issued under or authorized by any Act of Congress or writes, prints, or otherwise impresses upon or attaches to any such instrument; obligation, or security, or any coin of the United States, any business or professional card, notice, or advertisement, or any notice or advertisement whatever". The prohibition contained in section 475 may apply when a celebrity note is being used as a form of commercial advertising.

The BEP’s position regarding this matter is that this and other similar treatments of United States currency are demeaning. This type of enterprise is neither endorsed nor authorized by officials at BEP.

 

Will there be a recall or devaluation of U.S. currency?
There will be no recall or devaluation of any current or older-series notes, which will be removed from circulation as they wear out. Older worn notes will be replaced with the new notes.

 

Was Confederate currency printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing?
The BEP has exclusively designed, engraved and printed all United States paper money since 1862. However, Confederate States Notes were not produced by BEP and are not obligations of the United States government. If genuine and in good condition, Confederate Notes may be of interest to collectors of old currencies. The names and addresses of collectors and dealers are likely to be found online or at your local library.

 

What is a United States Note?
United States Notes (characterized by a red seal and serial number), originally issued in 1862, were the first National currency. Federal Reserve notes were not issued until the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. Both types of notes were redeemable in gold until 1933, when the United States abandoned the gold standard. Since then, both currencies have served essentially the same purpose, and have had the same value. Because United States Notes serve no function that is not already adequately served by Federal Reserve notes, their issuance was discontinued, and none have been placed into circulation since January 21, 1971.

All outstanding United States Notes, which were issued in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1,000, may be redeemed at face value by the U.S. Treasury Department. Payment would be made in the form of a Treasury check.

 

What is “Checkbook” currency?
At one time, private bindery companies would bind genuine currency notes in a “checkbook” fashion to be torn out as needed. However, BEP does not offer currency as a bound product. To acquire such an item, it is suggested that you acquire new currency notes from a bank and locate a bindery company capable of providing such a service. Such companies can be located on the internet or in your local telephone directory under the headings for “printers” and “bookbinders.”

 

Who is featured in the portraits on U.S. paper currency?

  • $1 Note - George Washington, 1st U.S. President; (Back) - The Great Seal of the United States
  • $2 Note - Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President; (Back) - The Declaration of Independence
  • $5 Note - Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President; (Back) - Lincoln Memorial
  • $10 Note - Alexander Hamilton, 1st Secretary of the Treasury; (Back) - U.S. Treasury Building
  • $20 Note - Andrew Jackson, 7th U.S. President; (Back) - White House
  • $50 Note - Ulysses Grant, 18th U.S. President; (Back) - U.S. Capitol
  • $100 Note - Ben Franklin, Statesman; (Back) - Independence Hall
  • $500 Note* - William McKinley, 25th U.S. President; (Back) - Numeral 500 and the ornamental phrase "Five Hundred Dollars"
  • $1000 Note* - Grover Cleveland, 22nd & 24th U.S. President; (Back) - Numeral 1000 and the ornamental phrase "One Thousand Dollars"
  • $5000 Note* - James Madison, 4th U.S. President; (Back) - Numeral 5000 and the ornamental phrase "Five Thousand Dollars"
  • $10,000 Note* - Salmon Chase, U.S. Treasury Secretary under Lincoln; (Back) - Numeral 10,000 and the ornamental phrase "Ten Thousand Dollars"
  • $100,000 Note* - Woodrow Wilson, 28th U.S. President; (Back) - Numeral 100,000 and the ornamental phrase "One Hundred Thousand Dollars". This note never appeared in general circulation, and was only used in transactions between Federal Reserve Banks

* = Notes no longer in print or circulation

 

Which of our Founding Fathers are found on the U.S. currency we use today and why?
Many denominations of today's Federal Reserve notes feature portraits of men regarded as Founding Fathers of the country because of their roles in creating and developing the new nation of the United States of America. Some of the accomplishments of the Founding Fathers that appear on U.S. paper money are listed below.

George Washington (1732-1799) $1 Federal Reserve Note

  • Member of the First and Second Continental Congresses (1774-1775)
  • Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolutionary Army (1775-1783)
  • President of the Constitutional Convention (1787)
  • First President of the United States (1789-1797)

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) $2 Federal Reserve Note

  • Member of the Second Continental Congress (1775-1776)
  • Author/Signer of the Declaration of Independence (1776)
  • First Secretary of State (1790-1793)
  • Third President of the United States (1801-1809)

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) $10 Federal Reserve Note

  • Served in the American Revolutionary Army (1775-1781)
  • Member of the Constitutional Convention (1787)
  • Signer of the U.S. Constitution (1787)
  • First Secretary of the Treasury (1789-1795)

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) $100 Federal Reserve Note

  • Served in the Second Continental Congress (1775-1776)
  • Member of the Constitutional Convention (1787)
  • Negotiated peace treaty with Great Britain (1781-1783)
  • Signer of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution (1776/1787)

 

Have any African Americans been pictured on U.S. currency?
There are no African Americans pictured on U.S. currency. There were four African American Registers of the Treasury, however, whose signatures appeared on the currency. They were Blanche K. Bruce, Judson W. Lyons, William T. Vernon and James C. Napier. Until the series 1923 currency, the two signatures on almost all currency (except Fractional Currency and Demand Notes) were of the Treasurer and the Register. During this period four of the 17 registers were African American. The fifth African American whose signature appeared on currency was Azie Taylor Morton. Ms. Morton was the 36th Treasurer of the United States. She served from September 12, 1977, to January 20, 1981.

 

Has a woman ever been pictured on U.S. currency?
Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on a U.S. currency note. It appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896.

 

What is the origin of the $ sign?
The origin of the "$" sign has been variously accounted for. However, the most widely accepted explanation is that the symbol is the result of evolution, independently in different places, of the Mexican or Spanish "Ps" for pesos, or piastres, or pieces of eight. The theory, derived from a study of old manuscripts, is that the "S" gradually came to be written over the "P," developing a close equivalent of the "$" mark. It was widely used before the adoption of the United States dollar in 1785

 

What is the significance of the Great Seal of the United States on paper currency?
The face (obverse) of the Great Seal first appeared on the back (reverse) of the $20 Gold Certificate, Series 1905. In 1935, both the face and back of the seal appeared for the first time on paper money on $1 Silver Certificates.

Mandated by the First Continental Congress in 1776, the Great Seal took many years of work by multiple individuals and committees before final adoption in 1782. The Department of State is the official keeper of the seal. A description and explanation of both the obverse and reverse of the seal comes from the Department of State pamphlet The Great Seal of the United States (September 1996):

Obverse Side of the Great Seal: The most prominent feature is the American bald eagle supporting the shield, or escutcheon, which is composed of 13 red and white stripes, representing the original States, and a blue top which unites the shield and represents Congress. The motto E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one), alludes to this union. The olive branch and 13 arrows denote the power of peace and war, which is exclusively vested in Congress. The constellation of stars denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers.

Reverse Side of the Great Seal: The pyramid signifies strength and duration: The eye over it and the motto Annuit Coeptis (He [God] has favored our undertakings) allude to the many interventions of Providence in favor of the American cause. The date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence and the words under it, Novus Ordo Seclorum (a new order of the ages), signify the beginning of the new American era in 1776.

 

Why is the phrase In God We Trust on U.S. currency?
The use of the national motto on both U.S. coins and notes is required by two statutes, 31 U.S.C. 5112(d) (1) and 5114(b), respectively. The motto was not adopted for use on U.S. paper money until 1957. It first appeared on some 1935G Series $1 Silver Certificates, but didn't appear on U.S. Federal Reserve notes until the Series 1963 currency. This use of the national motto has been challenged in court many times over the years that it has been in use and has been consistently upheld by the various courts of this country, including the U.S. Supreme Court as recently as 1977.

The Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice intend to actively defend against challenges to the use of the national motto. In 1992, a challenge was filed and successfully defeated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

 

Why is U.S. currency redesigned?
The primary reason currency is redesigned is to address potential and current counterfeiting threats.

 

What drives the redesign timeline and sequence of denominations?
The redesign timeline is driven by security – primarily security feature development.  Typically, the aesthetics (look) are completed after the security features are ready.  The redesign sequence for denominations is driven by current and potential security threats.

 

What is the approximate timeline for the upcoming redesign?
In 2013, the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence (ACD) Steering Committee – which monitors currency security issues and provides recommendations to the Secretary of the Treasury – indicated that the $10 note would be the next note to be redesigned and it is expected that it will happen in approximately 2026, followed by the $50 (2028), $20 (2030), $5 (2032-2035), and $100 (2034-2038) notes, pending any new developments in counterfeiting threats or technology issues.

 

What security features will be incorporated?
To keep our banknotes secure, three levels of security features are incorporated into them:  covert features, features for banknote equipment manufacturers, and public features.  The public security features are of critical importance since it is our first line of defense.  BEP continues to work on developing robust security features that must be seamlessly integrated into the banknote design, be manufacturable at high volume, and work flawlessly in daily commerce.

 

How do I report or learn more about money that I suspect is counterfeit?
Visit this United States Secret Service webpage to learn about counterfeit investigation and how to report counterfeit currency.

Why are BEP products being sold on the U.S. Mint’s website?
BEP and United States Mint formed a strategic partnership to sell BEP products through the Mint’s e-commerce system.  This collaboration offers collectors, gift-givers, and other customers a better experience and greater variety of numismatic currency products.

 

I used to purchase products directly from BEP.  What should I know now that I’m purchasing BEP products from the Mint?

  1. The purchase of BEP products from catalog.usmint.gov or 1-800-USA-MINT are subject to U.S. Mint Terms and Conditions.
  2. The Mint charges a nominal fee to cover shipment and the return policy window is within 7 days of receiving your product.  See the Mint’s Shipping and Returns Policy for more information.
  3. Ordering and paying for purchases at the Mint:
    1. The Mint does not accept orders by mail or fax.
    2. The Mint does not accept payment by check.  However, PayPal is accepted, which has the option to fund payments from a checking account.
    3. For more information about ordering and paying for products, see Mint FAQs on Order and Payment Processing.
  4. All registered customers who make three or more purchases within a calendar year qualify for the U.S. Mint’s Loyalty Program.  For more information, see the Mint’s Loyalty Program Fact Sheet.

 

Why can’t I use my BEP customer account on the Mint’s website?
BEP customer accounts were not transferred to the U.S. Mint.  Current BEP customers are encouraged to set up a new account on the Mint’s website.  Although purchases can be made from the U.S. Mint without setting up an account, doing so will allow customers to take advantage of benefits like the Mint’s Loyalty Program, product notifications, easier order tracking, and paying with PayPal.  Opening an account on the Mint website is easy and takes only a few minutes.

 

I am a BEP bulk customer.  What do I do now?
BEP bulk sale customers should continue to place orders through BEP at 1-800-456-3408.

 

How can I become a BEP bulk customer?
Please contact BEP’s bulk program directly at 1-800-456-3408.

 

Following the transition, how can I return a product I purchased at a BEP retail location?
If you purchased a product at a BEP retail location, you can return it to that same location.  The Mint does not accept or process returns for products purchased from BEP retail locations through its website or call center.

 

How can I access my past BEP order history?
If you need to access your order history from BEP for products you purchased through its website prior to September 17, 2018, please contact BEP directly at 1-800-456-3408 or by email at Moneyfactory.sales@bep.gov.

I still have more questions, who can I call?

If you have additional questions regarding the transition or BEP product orders placed prior to September 17, 2018, please contact BEP’s Mail Order Sales Department by telephone at 1-800-456-3408 or by email at Moneyfactory.sales@bep.gov.

Education and Training Materials

Education and Training MaterialsAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Thu, 04/07/2022 - 12:00
For education and training materials, visit our partners at the U.S. Currency Education Program.

US Currency Education Program Logo

Currency Image Use

Currency Image UseAlison.Wargo@bep.gov Fri, 04/15/2022 - 11:16

Illustrations of U.S. Currency

Federal law permits color illustrations of U.S. currency only under the following conditions:

Diagram of two partial $20 bills
  • the illustration is of a size less than three-fourths or more than one and one-half, in linear dimension, of each part of the item illustrated; 
  • the illustration is one-sided; and
  • all negatives, plates, positives, digitized storage medium, graphic files, magnetic medium, optical storage devices and any other thing used in the making of the illustration that contain an image of the illustration or any part thereof are destroyed and/or deleted or erased after their final use.
    18 U.S.C. § 504(1), 31 CFR § 411.1.

 

Black and White Reproductions

Title 18, United States Code, Section 504 permits black and white reproductions of currency and other obligations, provided such reproductions meet the size requirement. 

 

Use and Reproduction of U.S. Currency for Advertising Prohibited Under Law

Under section 475 of the U.S. Criminal Code,  “whoever designs, engraves, prints, makes, or executes, or utters, issues, distributes, circulates, or uses any business or professional card, notice, placard, circular, handbill, or advertisement in the likeness or similitude of any obligation or security of the United States issued under or authorized by any Act of Congress or writes, prints, or otherwise impresses upon or attaches to any such instrument, obligation, or security, or any coin of the United States, any business or professional card, notice, or advertisement, or any notice or advertisement whatever, shall be fined under this title.”  18 U.S.C. § 475.

 

More Information

For additional information on crimes related to U.S. currency you may visit, UScurrency.gov.