US Currency Design Timeline

from, “New Currency History” 1861 – first general circulation of paper money by the federal government 1929 – all paper currency is reduced in size by about 30% to lower manufacturing costs, and standardized designs across each denomination are introduced. 1955 – In God We Trust motto first appears on paper currency 1990 – Security thread … Continue reading

New $100 Note Video Series

Money Makes You Feel Better

…according to Kathleen Vohs, professor of Marketing at U of Minnesota, who has conducted studies about the emotional and physical effects of handling money.  In one of our experiments, our participants would come to the laboratory, and their first task would be either counting out slips of paper or counting out slips of money, hard … Continue reading

The End of Money

notes from David Wolman’s 2012 book The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers — and the Coming Cashless Society, and related articles. Although predictions about the end of cash are as old as credit cards, a number of developments are ganging up on physical money like never before: mistrust of national currencies novel payment tools … Continue reading


Supernotes are a certain kind of counterfeit US hundred-dollar bill. They are virtually indistinguishable from a legitimate C-note, which is not at all a good thing. Most batches are not even discovered to be counterfeit until they make it to a Federal Reserve Bank, which has the most advanced screening technology. As with other new species … Continue reading

Design for a Dollar

Epic video announcement for 2010 (still-unreleased?) redesign of US $100 note: All US currency redesigns must perpetuate certain “legacy features” that are on all the currency that’s ever been issued — because the US will accept all currency ever issued as legal tender, the notes have to have a certain amount of consistency. Or so … Continue reading

Alternative Currencies

Alternative, (or private, or sovereign) currencies are currencies used as a viable alternative to the dominant national central-bank distributed currency. They are perfectly legal  in the United States as long as they don’t look like federal reserve notes and as long as they’re not called dollars. in the US, you’re not legally obligated to accept … Continue reading

Cash Money

Important distinction to make: cash as referring to liquid assets in general, or cash as physical object. Here we’ll be talking about the physical object, the banknote. Cash is fungible, which means that it is interchangeable across uses, aka its “individual units are capable of mutual substitution.” For example, crude oil is also fungible, in that one … Continue reading

GAO Reports on $1 Coin vs $1 Note

I just read both the 2011 GAO Report on the dollar coin (“US Coins: Replacing the $1 Note With a $1 Coin Would Provide a Financial Benefit to the Government”) and its 2012 followup, “US Coins: Alternative Scenarios Suggest Different Benefits and Losses from Replacing the $1 Note with a $1 Coin.” I’m not going … Continue reading

Dollar Bills vs. Coins

March 2011, the GAO released a report stating that “the transition to an all-coin dollar would initially cost the nation money, although long-term savings would ultimately be realized.” See here for a longer discussion of GAO reports on this subject. In December of 2011, the US Mint decided to curtail production of dollar coins. It … Continue reading