History of Money Design: How Did American Dollar Bills Change?

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It’s not just paper. From the first notes issued by the Continental Congress to the latest star-spangled bills released by the Federal Reserve, the history of money in America is laced with rebellion, propaganda, and—of course—lots and lots of wealth. It’s awkwardly beautiful.

The history of paper currency, specifically, serves as a curious lens through which to understand the origins of this complicated nation. Like the government itself, money in America dates back to 1776 when the Continental Congress issued the country’s first official dollar bills. But before and well after that, it had been a free-for-all with any bank or state able to issue its own currency. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the nation’s currency would be standardized and even recognizable to present-day observers.

1$, 1770

The first money went into circulation since the middle of the 18th century. They were used in North America in all the colonies, which at that time numbered 13. Depending on the location of the location, they were called either a dollar or a shilling. The banknotes were constantly forged, so the government was constantly improving their protection. For this and printing on banknotes of complex patterns, real leaves were also used. Also, for the forgery of bills, execution was determined.

50$, 1779

At the end of the US War of Independence, the Continental Congress issued the first national currency, the American dollar. The design of continental dollars was not much different from colonial banknotes. But it was on them appeared an unfinished pyramid, which you can contemplate on the back of the dollar bill. Issue of banknotes totaled 240 million dollars, which subsequently caused a monstrous inflation, which by 1781 led to its depreciation.

5$, 19th Century

Some stability was restored only after the signing of the Coin Act in 1792. A clear and logical monetary system was established, including both gold ten-dollar and copper half-cent coins, which were minted at the state mint. But the printing of banknotes was not so smoothly, because in their value depended on the financial condition of the institutions with which they were printed. So for a denomination of 5 dollars, issued by the Agricultural Bank of Tennessee gave only $ 4. Soon such a position used fraudsters, proceeding to issue counterfeit banknotes through one-day banks.

10$, 1862 (Confederation)

The next period in the development of paper bills was the Civil War. To maintain soldiers, the seal was produced in enormous sizes. The departed states began issuing their own currencies, which have no security. In those days, the dollar has already begun to create a distinctive design – simple, but at the same time having an ornamented border and two-color printing.

10$, 1862 (Union)

​In 1862, a law was signed to start issuing notes for $ 50 million, which were provided with government securities. But their existence did not last long. The following year they were withdrawn from circulation.

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