Coin and Currency – Facts on U.S. Money

March 28, 2017 | By More
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Money Museum Federal Reserve BankWhen I was downtown last week, my niece and I stopped by to visit the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. We enjoyed going through the exhibits, which include samples and history of coin and currency dating back hundreds of years.  Visitors also get to snap a photo next to a briefcase of one million dollars. (That’s me in the above photo!) Although my niece had many places on her bucket list to visit while she was in town, it seemed a great idea to check out the financial district in downtown Chicago. In addition to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, there is the Chicago Board of Trade, a number of the big banks, and other entities that comprise the financial district. It’s an exciting place to be.

As I was considering our Post for today, I reflected on the various types of coin and currency on display in the Money Museum.  It reminded me of a terrific resource I wanted to share with our readers – the Currency and Coin Frequently Asked Questions category on the Federal Reserve Bank Services website.  As money smart consumers, it seems to me that having a basic understanding of our country’s coin and currency is a good thing.  After all, we work hard every day earning it.  We trust in the banking system to keep our money safe.  We need to know a little bit about the money we use every day whether it’s in the real world or digital.

The FAQ on the website is divided into two sections – Currency and Coin – using a Q&A format.  A list of 19 questions is focused on the topic of Currency, 8 questions on Coin.  Let me provide you just three of the questions highlighted.  I think you’ll find the factoids of interest:

How much U.S. currency is in circulation?
I was curious about how much coin and currency was in circulation.  Website visitors are redirected to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve website. It provides the most up-to-date statistics. As of February 22, 2017, there was “approximately $1.5 trillion in circulation.”  What an astounding amount!

What is U.S. currency paper made of?
According to the Fed’s website, the currency paper is comprised of “one-fourth linen and three-fourths cotton.”  Of course, a lot more is involved, so I checked out the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s website.   Here is what they said about the paper:

” The ordinary paper that consumers use throughout their everyday life such as newspapers, books, cereal boxes, etc., is primarily made of wood pulp; however, United States currency paper is composed of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen.”

I encourage you to link through to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s website to read about the entire process from design to final shipment packing to be forward to the Federal Reserve.

How do consumers get new currency?
The place to check for new currency is your bank.  The Federal Reserve Banks “provide currency only to depository institutions, which then distribute it to members of the public.”

Below in our Tips to Read, we provide a direct link to the Federal Reserve Bank Services website for the Currency and Coin Frequently Asked Questions category.  In addition, we provide some links to other Posts we have published regarding the Federal Reserve Bank. At first glance, understanding the finer points of how the Federal Reserve functions can be a little intimidating.  But, with the many good resources that provide videos, articles, and live experiences, money smart consumers can obtain a good working knowledge of U.S. coin and currency and other features about the U.S. money system.

Tips to Read:

Visit the FAQ about coin and currency at the Federal Reserve Bank Services website.


Take the opportunity to review other Posts we have shared about the Federal Reserve Bank:

The Federal Reserve: History and Purpose of the Fed
The Federal Reserve and You Video Series
What Happens to Old U.S. Paper Currency?

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Category: Banking, Money Tips on the Web, New to Banking, Resources & Websites

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