How Currency Works

U.S. Currency
U.S. $1 bank note
U.S. $1 bank note
Photo courtesy U.S. Treasury Dept.

The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing currently produces $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills.

$2 bills are printed whenever necessary, and were last printed in 2003. In the 1930s, a series of $100,000 bills were printed, the largest denomination in U.S. history. These bills were used only for transactions between Federal Reserve banks; they were never circulated publicly.

The $100,000 note features the 28th U.S. president, Woodrow Wilson.
Photo courtesy U.S. Department of the Treasury

The United States Mint produces coins worth 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents, as well as the Sacagawea Golden Dollar Coin, which replaced the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin in 2000.

American sculptor Glenna Goodacre designed this side of the Golden Dollar coin, which features the likeness of Sacagawea, the young Shoshone woman who assisted Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase in the early 1800s.

The U.S. Mint produces nearly 30 billion coins for general circulation each year. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces 37 million notes a day with a face value of approximately $696 million. Roughly 95 percent of those notes are made just to replace old notes.

The coins in your pocket and the money in your purse might be something you take for granted. Modern currency is really a complex, worldwide system that we use every day, impacting nearly every aspect of our lives. For more information about currency and coinage, check out the links below.

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