American Banknotes

US Currency Federal ReserveA Federal Reserve Note, also a United States banknote or U.S. banknote, is a type of banknote 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. They are distinct from Federal Reserve Bank Notes, each of which was issued (until 1971) and backed by one, rather than all collectively, of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks.

Federal Reserve Notes are authorized by Section 411 of Title 12 of the United States Code 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.

Federal Reserve Notes are legal tender, with the words “this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private” printed on each note. (See generally 31 U.S.C.§ 5103.) They have replaced United States Notes, which were once issued by the Treasury Department. Federal Reserve Notes are backed by the assets of the Federal Reserve Banks, which serve as collateral under Federal Reserve Act Section 16. These assets are generally Treasury securities which have been purchased by the Federal Reserve through its Federal Open Market Committee in a process called debt monetizing. (See Monetization.) This monetized debt can increase the money supply, either with the issuance of new Federal Reserve Notes or with the creation of debt money (deposits). This increase in the monetary base leads to larger increase in the money supply through the fractional-reserve banking as deposits are lent and re-deposited where they form the basis of further loans.

Design Regulations

There are a few regulations to which the U.S. Treasury must adhere when redesigning banknotes. The state motto “In God We Trust” must appear on every banknote. The bill requiring this, H.R. 619, was introduced by Representative Charles Edward Bennett of Florida. The inclusion of the motto was meant to serve as a frequent claim that the country was founded upon faith in God as well as spiritual values during the era of Mccarthyism. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed this bill in 1955, but it was not until 1957 that banknotes bearing this motto were first circulated.

The portraits appearing on the U.S. currency can feature only deceased individuals, whose names should be included below each of the portraits. Since the standardization of the bills in 1928, The Department of the Treasury has chosen to feature the same portraits on the bills. These portraits were decided upon in 1929 by a committee appointed by the Treasury. Originally, the committee had decided to feature U.S. Presidents because they were more familiar to the public than other potential candidates. The Treasury altered this decision, however, to include three statesmen who were also well-known to the public: Alexander Hamilton (the first Secretary of the Treasury who appears on the $10 bill), Salmon P. Chase (the Secretary of the Treasury during the American Civil War who appeared on the now uncirculated $10,000 bill), and Benjamin Franklin (a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who appears on the $100 bill).

In 2001, the Legal Tender Modernization Act was proposed which would prohibit any redesign of the $1 bill. This act would have superseded the Federal Reserve Act (Section 16, paragraph 8) which gives the Treasury permission to redesign any banknote to prevent counterfeiting. More recently, the Omnibus Appropriations Act (2009) has stated that none of the funds set aside for either the Treasury or the Bureau of Engraving and Printing may be used to redesign the $1 Bill.

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American 1 Dollar Bill     American 5 Dollar Note-tb     American 10 Dollar Note-tb

American 20 Dollar Note-tb     American 50 Dollar Note-tb     American 100 Dollar Bill

First Published:  Jan 13, 2013  –  Last Updated: Jan 14, 2013