Why is U.S. Currency Green?

The famous words come from Cabaret the musical ring true to many people around the world, “Money makes the world to go around.” Whether we agree with this famous saying or not, money has a crucial place in our society.

Whether we’re saving, spending, or investing, we often think of money only in terms of its value. Rarely do we consider money as a physical object. In our everyday language. We use words like”cash”, “dough”, and even, “green” to describe money.

However, have you ever wondered why money looks the way it does? In trying to answer a simple question,”Why is U.S. currency green?” we uncover curious facts about the development of the U.S. dollar.

The First U.S. Dollar: “Greenback”

In 1861, Demand Notes, which was the currency issued by the U.S. government during the American Civil War, were called “greenbacks” because the backs of these notes were printed in green ink. It is said that the green ink was used in order to prevent counterfeit reproductions. Before 1861, notes were often counterfeited using photographs.

However, the first cameras only photographed in black and white, so the colour green on bank notes could not be replicated easily with photographs. The use of the colour green was continued on Series 1928 of the U.S. dollar, likely due to the strong tradition of using green on U.S. currency in the past, and the symbol against counterfeit money it continues to represent.

What happens to Counterfeit Money?

In 1865, only four years after the creation of the “greenbacks”, the U.S. Secret Service was created with the mission of stopping all counterfeit currency. Today, Reserve Banks have machines that count deposits received from bankswhile also identifying counterfeit money.

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The U.S. Secret Service will then investigate any counterfeit currency discovered. In recent years, they have reported that there is only 0.001 % of U.S. currency in circulation that is found to be counterfeit.

Checking Counterfeit Money


Urban Legends about the Green Coloring of the U.S. Dollar

While the connection with the U.S. “greenbacks” has a rich standing in history, there are many urban legends around the green coloration of the U.S. dollar. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has stated that this is actually their most frequently asked question. Some say that in 1928, with the introduction of the Series 1928 notes, green pigment was very plentiful in the United States. Others argue that the colour green is less likely to be damaged or destroyed by chemicals. However, the only proven explanation about the colour green of the U.S. dollar is the connection with the original 1861 “greenbacks” and its attempt to ward off any counterfeit money.

100 Dollar Bills

What is the Largest Value U.S. Bill Ever Printed?

The value of the highest bill ever printed was $100,000. The note, called the $100,000 Gold Certificate, was only printed for 22 days, between December 18, 1934 and January 9, 1935. These notes were used for transactions among Reserve Banks only, and were never circulated publicly.

Video: What gives a Dollar Bill its value?

The value of money is determined by how much or little of it is in circulation. But who makes that decision, and how does their choice affect the economy at large? In this video, Doug Levinson takes a trip into the United States Federal Reserve and examines how the people who work there aim to balance the value of the dollar to prevent inflation or deflation.

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