United States one-dollar bill

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One dollar
(United States)
Width6.14 inches ≈ 156.1 mm
Height2.61 inches ≈ 66.3 mm
WeightApprox. 1 [1]  g
Material used75% cotton
25% linen [2]
Years of printing1929 – present (Small size)
US one dollar bill, obverse, series 2009.jpg
Design George Washington
Design date1963
US one dollar bill, reverse, series 2009.jpg
Design Great Seal of the United States
Design date1935

The United States one-dollar bill ($1) since 1876 has been the lowest value denomination of United States paper currency. An image of the first U.S. President (1789–1797), George Washington, based on the Athenaeum Portrait , a 1796 painting by Gilbert Stuart, is currently featured on the obverse, and the Great Seal of the United States is featured on the reverse. The one-dollar bill has the oldest overall design of all U.S. currency currently being produced (The current two-dollar bill obverse design dates from 1928, while the reverse appeared in 1976). The obverse design of the dollar bill seen today debuted in 1963 (the reverse in 1935) when it was first issued as a Federal Reserve Note (previously, one dollar bills were Silver Certificates).


The inclusion of the motto, "In God We Trust," on all currency was required by law in 1955, [3] and first appeared on paper money in 1957.

The Federal Reserve says the average life of a $1 bill in circulation is 6.6 years before it is replaced because of wear. [4] Approximately 42% of all U.S. currency produced in 2009 were one-dollar bills. [5] As of December 31 2019, there were 12.7 billion one-dollar bills in circulation worldwide. [6]


Large size notes

First $1 bill issued in 1862 as a Legal Tender Note US-$1-LT-1862-Fr-16c.jpg
First $1 bill issued in 1862 as a Legal Tender Note
Series 1880 $1 Legal Tender US-$1-LT-1880-Fr-29.jpg
Series 1880 $1 Legal Tender
Series of 1886 $1 Silver Certificate featuring Martha Washington US-$1-SC-1886-Fr-217.jpg
Series of 1886 $1 Silver Certificate featuring Martha Washington
Famous 1896 "Educational Series" $1 Silver Certificate US-$1-SC-1896-Fr-224-(3923429).jpg
Famous 1896 "Educational Series" $1 Silver Certificate

(approximately 7⅜ × 3⅛ in ≅ 187 × 79  mm)

Small size notes

The first small-size $1 Silver Certificate. First Small Size Silver Certificate (face, 1928).jpg
The first small-size $1 Silver Certificate.
Common reverse of $1 Silver Certificates (Series of 1928-1934) and $1 United States Notes (Series of 1928), commonly referred to as "Funnybacks" US $1 1928 Silver Certificate reverse.jpg
Common reverse of $1 Silver Certificates (Series of 1928-1934) and $1 United States Notes (Series of 1928), commonly referred to as "Funnybacks"
The first small-size $1 United States Banknote printed. US-$1-LT-1928-Fr.1500.jpg
The first small-size $1 United States Banknote printed.

(6.14 length × 2.61 width× 0.0043 in thickness = 156 × 66.3 × 0.11 mm)

In 1928, all currency was changed to the size which is familiar today. The first one-dollar bills were issued as silver certificates under Series of 1928. The Treasury seal and serial numbers were dark blue. The obverse was nearly identical to the Series of 1923 $1 silver certificate, but the Treasury seal featured spikes around it and a large gray ONE replaced the blue "1 DOLLAR." The reverse, too, had the same border design as the Series of 1923 $1 bill, but the center featured a large ornate ONE superimposed by ONE DOLLAR. These are commonly known as "Funnybacks" due to the rather odd-looking "ONE" on the reverse. These $1 silver certificates were issued until 1934.

In 1933, Series of 1928 $1 United States Notes were issued to supplement the supply of $1 Silver Certificates. Its Treasury seal and serial numbers were red and there was different wording on the obverse of the note. However, a month after their production, it was realized that there would be no real need for these notes and production was stopped. A small number of these $1 bills entered circulation and the rest were kept in Treasury vaults until 1949 when they were issued in Puerto Rico. [19]

In 1934, the design of the $1 silver certificate was changed. This occurred with that year's passage of the Silver Purchase Act, which led to a large increase in dollar bills backed by that metal. [20] Under Washington's portrait, ONE SILVER DOLLAR was changed to ONE DOLLAR. The Treasury seal was moved to the right and superimposed over ONE, and a blue numeral 1 was added to the left. The reverse remained the same.

A year later, in 1935, the design of the one-dollar bill was changed again. On the obverse, the blue numeral 1 was changed to gray and made smaller, the gray ONE to the right was removed, the Treasury seal was made smaller and superimposed by WASHINGTON D.C., and a stylized ONE DOLLAR was added over the treasury seal. The reverse was also changed to its current design, except for the absence of IN GOD WE TRUST.

Special issue $1 Silver Certificate for Allied troops in North Africa US $1 1935A North Africa Silver Certificate.jpg
Special issue $1 Silver Certificate for Allied troops in North Africa

World War II brought about special issues of one-dollar bills in 1942. Special $1 Silver Certificates were issued for Hawaii in case of a Japanese invasion. HAWAII was printed vertically on the left and right side of the obverse and also horizontally across the reverse. The seal and serial numbers were changed to brown. Special Silver Certificates were also issued as payment for Allied troops in North Africa about to begin their assault into Europe. The only difference on these one-dollar bills was a yellow instead of blue seal. Both of these types of notes could be declared worthless if they fell into enemy hands.

The next change came in 1957 when the $1 bill became the first piece of paper U.S. currency to bear the motto IN GOD WE TRUST; it was added over the word ONE on the reverse. Initially the BEP began printing the motto on notes printed with the new 32 note press, but soon Series of 1935G bills printed on an 18 note press featured the motto.

The final production of $1 Silver Certificates occurred in late 1963. In 1964, the redemption of Silver Certificates for silver coin ended and in 1968 the redemption of Silver Certificates for silver bullion ended.

Production of one-dollar Federal Reserve Notes was undertaken in late 1963 to replace the soon-to-be obsolete $1 Silver Certificate. The design on the reverse remained the same, but the border design on the obverse underwent considerable modification, as the mostly abstract filigrees were replaced with designs that were mostly botanical in nature. In addition, the word "one," which appeared eight times around the border in small type, was eliminated. The serial numbers and treasury seal were printed in green ink. This was the first time the one-dollar bill was printed as a Federal Reserve Note.

The first change since then came in 1969, when the $1 was among all denominations of Federal Reserve Notes to feature the new Treasury seal, with English wording instead of Latin. [21]

The $1 bill became the first denomination printed at the new Western Currency Facility in February 1991, when a shipment of 3.2 million star notes from the Dallas FRB was produced. [22]

Though bill denominations of $5 and higher have been redesigned twice since 1995 as part of ongoing anti-counterfeiting efforts, there are currently no plans to redesign the $1 or $2 bills.

Experimental issues

Since 1933, the one-dollar bill has been the exclusive experimental denomination among circulating US currency (except for the Natick experiment in 1981, see below). The first experiment was conducted in January and February of that year to assess the effects of using different ratios of cotton to linen in the make-up of the bills. Series 1928A and 1928B $1 silver certificates with serial number block letters X-B and Y-B were used as the experimental group; the Z-B block was used as the control group. The results of the experiment were inconclusive.

In 1937, another test was conducted, similar in style to the 1933 experiment. This test used Series 1935 one-dollar bills. The particular notes used in this experiment can be identified by their serial numbers. Notes ranging from A00000001B to A06180000B and B00000001B–B03300000B were the experimental group and notes ranging from C00000001B to C03300000B were part of the control group. No conclusive results were found.

A better known test was done in 1942 during World War II to test alternative types of paper. This was a precautionary measure in case the current type of paper supply could not be maintained. Series 1935A notes made of the special paper and were printed with a red "S" to the right of the treasury seal, while notes of the control group were printed with a red R. Because they have some collector value, fake red S's and R's have been applied to regular Series 1935A notes to try to pass them at a higher value; checking a note's serial numbers can prevent this. Serial numbers of the R group range from S70884001C to S72068000C and serial numbers of the S group range from S73884001C to S75068000C.

Sometime in the early to mid-1960s, the BEP experimented with a new firm, the Gilbert Paper Company, to see if they could duplicate the usual paper production. [23] The BEP selected a series of notes printed by the Philadelphia FRB as the test subjects. Serial numbers for this group range from C60800001A to C61440000A.

In August 1981, a similar experiment occurred during production of Series 1977A, when the BEP printed a few print runs on Natick paper. They included a regular run and a star note run from the Richmond FRB, with serial numbers ranging from E76800001H through E80640000H and E07052001* through E07680000* (note that many sources incorrectly identify the star range as Philadelphia instead of Richmond). One print run of $10 star notes, also from Richmond, was included in this paper test, making it so far the only experimental printing not exclusive to the $1.

One-dollar bills were again the subject of experimentation in May 1992, when the BEP began to test a web-fed Intaglio printing press. Because of a need for greater quantities of $1 FRNs, the BEP sent out REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) (year 1985) NO. BEP-85-73 to procure a web-fed intaglio printing press to dramatically increase the production of currency notes within the confines of their current (1985) 14th & C street facility. Instead of printing one side of a square sheet of 32 notes at a time, the web-fed press used 96 engraved images or plate-cylinder to print the back of the note, then another 96 image engraved plate-cylinder to print the front of the note. Both sides of notes were printed from a continuous roll of paper. The Alexander-Hamilton intaglio Web press printed both sides of intaglio at the same time. The web-press was designed as a full-blown production press as opposed to an experimental press. The notes were issued in Series 1988A, 1993, and 1995. Because of mechanical problems and operator error, as well as the sometimes poor quality of the notes, production was ended in July 1996. Web notes can be identified by the back plate number next to IN GOD WE TRUST and the removal of face check letters and quadrant numbers. [24]

Series dates

Small size

TypeSeries Treasurer Secretary Seal
Legal Tender Note 1928 Woods Woodin Red
Silver Certificate 1928 Tate Mellon Blue
Silver Certificate1928AWoodsMellonBlue
Silver Certificate1928BWoods Mills Blue
Silver Certificate1928CWoodsWoodinBlue
Silver Certificate1928D Julian WoodinBlue
Silver Certificate1928EJulian Morgenthau Blue
Silver Certificate1934JulianMorgenthauBlue
Silver Certificate1935JulianMorgenthauBlue
Silver Certificate1935AJulianMorgenthauBlue
Silver Certificate1935A HawaiiJulianMorgenthauBrown
Silver Certificate1935A North AfricaJulianMorgenthauYellow
Silver Certificate1935BJulian Vinson Blue
Silver Certificate1935CJulian Snyder Blue
Silver Certificate1935D Clark SnyderBlue
Silver Certificate1935E Priest Humphrey Blue
Silver Certificate1935FPriest Anderson Blue
Silver Certificate1935G Smith Dillon Blue
Silver Certificate1935G MottoSmithDillonBlue
Silver Certificate1935HGranahanDillonBlue
Silver Certificate1957PriestAndersonBlue
Silver Certificate1957ASmithDillonBlue
Silver Certificate1957BGranahanDillonBlue
Federal Reserve Note 1963GranahanDillonGreen
Federal Reserve Note1963AGranahan Fowler Green
Federal Reserve Note1963BGranahan Barr Green
Federal Reserve Note1969 Elston Kennedy Green
Federal Reserve Note1969A Kabis KennedyGreen
Federal Reserve Note1969BKabis Connally Green
Federal Reserve Note1969C Bañuelos ConnallyGreen
Federal Reserve Note1969DBañuelos Shultz Green
Federal Reserve Note1974 Neff Simon Green
Federal Reserve Note1977 Morton Blumenthal Green
Federal Reserve Note1977AMorton Miller Green
Federal Reserve Note1981 Buchanan Regan Green
Federal Reserve Note1981A Ortega ReganGreen
Federal Reserve Note1985Ortega Baker Green
Federal Reserve Note1988Ortega Brady Green
Federal Reserve Note1988A Villalpando BradyGreen
Federal Reserve Note1993 Withrow Bentsen Green
Federal Reserve Note1995Withrow Rubin Green
Federal Reserve Note1999Withrow Summers Green
Federal Reserve Note2001 Marin O'Neill Green
Federal Reserve Note2003Marin Snow Green
Federal Reserve Note2003A Cabral SnowGreen
Federal Reserve Note2006Cabral Paulson Green
Federal Reserve Note2009 Rios Geithner Green
Federal Reserve Note2013Rios Lew Green
Federal Reserve Note2017 Carranza Mnuchin Green
Federal Reserve Note2017ACarranzaMnuchinGreen

Obverse of current $1 bill

Detail of the Treasury Seal as it appears on a $1 bill USDeptOfTreasurySeal-2003Bill.jpg
Detail of the Treasury Seal as it appears on a $1 bill
Example Federal Reserve Bank Seal (for San Francisco) as it appears on a $1 bill; the number 12 appears four times to confirm. United States one dollar bill, fed seal L.jpg
Example Federal Reserve Bank Seal (for San Francisco) as it appears on a $1 bill; the number 12 appears four times to confirm.
Comparison between Gilbert Stuart's 1796 Athenaeum Portrait and the image on the obverse of the bill. The image from the dollar bill above shows the subject flipped horizontally for ease of comparison. Comparison between Athenaeum Portrait and United States one-dollar bill.jpg
Comparison between Gilbert Stuart's 1796 Athenaeum Portrait and the image on the obverse of the bill. The image from the dollar bill above shows the subject flipped horizontally for ease of comparison.

The portrait of George Washington is displayed in the center of the obverse of the one-dollar bill, as it has been since the 1869 design. The oval containing George Washington is propped up by bunches of bay laurel leaves.[ citation needed ]

To the left of George Washington is the Federal Reserve District seal. The name of the Federal Reserve Bank that issued the note encircles a capital letter (A–L), identifying it among the twelve Federal Reserve Banks. The sequential number of the bank (1: A, 2: B, etc.) is also displayed in the four corners of the open space on the bill. Until the redesign of the higher denominations of currency beginning in 1996, this seal was found on all denominations of Federal Reserve notes. Since then it is only present on the $1 and $2 notes, with the higher denominations only displaying a universal Federal Reserve System seal, and the bank letter and number beneath the upper left serial number.

To the right of George Washington is the Treasury Department seal. The scales represent justice. The chevron with thirteen stars represents the original thirteen colonies. The key below the chevron represents authority and trust; 1789 is the year that the Department of the Treasury was established. The series 1969 dollar bills were the first to use a simplified Treasury seal, with the wording in English instead of Latin.

Below the FRB seal (to the left of George Washington) is the signature of the Treasurer of the United States, and below the USDT Seal (right side) is the Secretary of the Treasury's signature. To the left of the Secretary's signature is the series date. A new series date, or addition or change of a sequential letter under a date, results from a change in the Secretary of the Treasury, the Treasurer of the United States, and/or a change to the note's appearance such as a new currency design.

On the edges are olive branches entwined around the 1s. A small plate serial number-letter combination is on the lower right, and a small plate position (check) letter is on the upper left corner of the note. If "FW" appears before the lower right plate number it indicates that the bill was produced at the satellite Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Currency has been printed here since Series 1988A. The absence of "FW" indicates the bill was printed at the main facility in Washington, D.C..

Reverse of current $1 bill

President Franklin Roosevelt's conditional approval of the one-dollar bill's design in 1935, requiring that the appearance of the sides of the Great Seal be reversed, and together, captioned. 1935 Dollar Bill Back Early Design.jpg
President Franklin Roosevelt's conditional approval of the one-dollar bill's design in 1935, requiring that the appearance of the sides of the Great Seal be reversed, and together, captioned.

The reverse of the one-dollar bill has an ornate design that incorporates both sides of the Great Seal of the United States to the left and right of the word ONE. This word appears prominently in the white space at the center of the bill in a capitalized, shadowed, and seriffed typeface. A smaller image of the word "ONE" is superimposed over the numeral "1" in each of the four corners of the bill.

"THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" spans the top of the bill, "ONE DOLLAR" is emblazoned along the bottom, and above the central "ONE" are the words "IN GOD WE TRUST," which became the official motto of the United States in 1956 by an Act of Congress. Below the reverse of the Great Seal on the left side of the bill are the words "THE GREAT SEAL," and below the obverse on the right side are the words "OF THE UNITED STATES."

The Great Seal, originally designed in 1782 and added to the dollar bill's design in 1935, is surrounded by an elaborate floral design. The renderings used were the typical official government versions used since the 1880s.

The reverse of the seal on the left features a barren landscape dominated by an unfinished pyramid of 13 steps, topped by the Eye of Providence within a triangle. At the base of the pyramid are engraved the Roman numerals MDCCLXXVI (1776), the date of American independence from Britain. At the top of the seal stands a Latin phrase, "ANNUIT COEPTIS," meaning "He favors our undertaking." At the bottom of the seal is a semicircular banner proclaiming "NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM" meaning "New Order of the Ages" that is a reference to the new American era. To the left of this seal, a string of 13 pearls extends toward the edge of the bill.

The obverse of the seal on the right features a bald eagle, the national bird and symbol of the United States. Above the eagle is a radiant cluster of 13 stars arranged in a six-pointed star. The eagle's breast is covered by a heraldic shield with 13 stripes that resemble those on the American flag. As on the first US flag, the stars and stripes stand for the 13 original states of the union. The eagle holds a ribbon in its beak reading "E PLURIBUS UNUM", a Latin phrase meaning "Out of many [states], one [nation]", a de facto motto of the United States (and the only one until 1956). Both the phrases "E Pluribus Unum" and "Annuit coeptis" contain 13 letters. In its left talons the eagle holds 13 arrows, and in its right talons it holds an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 olives, representing, respectively, the powers of war and peace. To the right of this seal, a string of 13 pearls extends toward the edge of the bill. A plate position (check) number is normally found to the left of the eagle.

Collecting Federal Reserve dollar bills

Except for significant errors, and series 1988A web notes printed in small batches for some of the Federal Reserve districts (web notes from other series are more common), green seal dollars are of little collector value. However, two notes have generated public interest, although neither is scarce.

In 1963 dollar bills were produced for the Eleventh Federal Reserve District, headquartered in Dallas. Since the FRD jurisdictions are sequentially numbered, notes received the corresponding letter "K", for the 11th letter of the alphabet. Some people noticed that the 1963 Dallas note, with the number "11" and a "K" surrounded by a black seal, appeared about the time President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas in November 1963. The bill was not a commemorative issue and there was no connection between it and the shooting. [25]

In 1968–69 Joseph W. Barr was Secretary of the Treasury for only 31 days and his signature appeared solely on the 1963B dollar bill. Some collectors thought that his brief tenure might make these notes valuable, but use of their plates continued for some time after his term in office and 458,880,000 were printed. Thus they are very common. [26]

Dollar Bills with interesting serial numbers can also be collected. One example of this is radar or “palindrome“ notes, where the numbers in the serial number are the same read from left to right or right to left. Very low serial numbers, or a long block of the same or repeating digits may also be of interest to specialists. Another example is replacement notes, which have a star to the right of the serial number. The star designates that there was a printing error on one or more of the bills, and it has been replaced by one from a run specifically printed and numbered to be replacements. [27] Star notes may have some additional value depending on their condition, their year series or if they have an unusual serial number sequence. To determine the rarity of modern star notes, production tables are maintained. [28]

Prosecution for the possession of a $1 bill

In Turkey the possession of a one-dollar bill can lead to a prosecution and sentence for terror related charges because it is seen as evidence for being a member of the Gülen Movement founded by Fethullah Gülen, which is seen as a terror organization in Turkey. Turkish authorities believe that Gülen used to present a one dollar bill to his followers and that they showed it to one another in order to make them recognizable. [29] [30] [31]

Redesign or replacement of the dollar bill

GAO estimated 30-year present-value cost of replacing $1 notes with $1 coins Figure 2 Estimated Cumulative Present-Value Net Loss to the Government from Actively and Gradually Replacing $1 Notes with $1 Coins over 30 Years (46756288014).jpg
GAO estimated 30-year present-value cost of replacing $1 notes with $1 coins

In modern times, the one dollar bill is used much more than the dollar coin, despite the U.S. Government's repeated efforts to promote the latter. [32] There are organizations specifically aimed at either preventing (Save the Greenback) [33] or advocating (Coin Coalition) [34] [35] the complete elimination of the one-dollar bill in favor of the dollar coin.

On November 29, 2012, a House subcommittee met to consider replacing the dollar bill. This action took place after the seventh Government Accountability Office report on the subject. The latest report claimed that switching to dollar coins would save $4.4 billion over thirty years. However, according to polls, few Americans want to give up dollar bills. [36] Recent budgets passed by Congress have included provisions to prevent the Treasury Department from spending any of its funds to redesign the one-dollar bill, largely because of potential cost impacts on the vending machine industry. [37]

See also

Related Research Articles

Federal Reserve Note Current paper currency of the United States

Federal Reserve Notes, also United States banknotes, are the banknotes currently used in the United States of America. Denominated in United States dollars, Federal Reserve Notes are printed by the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing on paper made by Crane & Co. of Dalton, Massachusetts. Federal Reserve Notes are the only type of U.S. banknote currently produced. Federal Reserve Notes are authorized by Section 16 of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and are issued to the Federal Reserve Banks at the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The notes are then put into circulation by the Federal Reserve Banks, at which point they become liabilities of the Federal Reserve Banks and obligations of the United States.

United States Note

A United States Note, also known as a Legal Tender Note, is a type of paper money that was issued from 1862 to 1971 in the U.S. Having been current for 109 years, they were issued for longer than any other form of U.S. paper money. They were known popularly as "greenbacks", a name inherited from the earlier greenbacks, the Demand Notes, that they replaced in 1862. Often termed Legal Tender Notes, they were named United States Notes by the First Legal Tender Act, which authorized them as a form of fiat currency. During the 1860s the so-called second obligation on the reverse of the notes stated:

This Note is a Legal Tender for All Debts Public and Private Except Duties On Imports And Interest On The Public Debt; And Is Redeemable In Payment Of All Loans Made To The United States.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing United States Government agency

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is a government agency within the United States Department of the Treasury that designs and produces a variety of security products for the United States government, most notable of which is Federal Reserve Notes for the Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank. In addition to paper currency, the BEP produces Treasury securities; military commissions and award certificates; invitations and admission cards; and many different types of identification cards, forms, and other special security documents for a variety of government agencies. The BEP does not produce coins; all coinage is produced by the United States Mint. With production facilities in Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the largest producer of government security documents in the United States.

United States five-dollar bill Current denomination of United States currency

The United States five-dollar bill ($5) is a denomination of United States currency. The current $5 bill features the 16th U.S. President (1861-65), Abraham Lincoln's portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial on the back. All $5 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes.

United States ten-dollar bill Current denomination of United States currency

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United States fifty-dollar bill Current denomination of United States currency

The United States fifty-dollar bill ($50) is a denomination of United States currency. The 18th U.S. President (1869-77), Ulysses S. Grant, is featured on the obverse, while the U.S. Capitol is featured on the reverse. All current-issue $50 bills are Federal Reserve Notes.

United States one-hundred-dollar bill Current denomination of United States currency

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Gold certificate

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Educational Series

"Educational Series" is the informal name used by numismatists to refer to a series of United States silver certificates produced by the U.S. Treasury in 1896, after its Bureau of Engraving and Printing chief Claude M. Johnson ordered a new currency design. The notes depict various allegorical motifs and are considered by some numismatists to be the most beautiful monetary designs ever produced by the United States.

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