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Coin and Currency

Making and Using Coin and Currency


Does the Fed print bank notes or mint coins?
No. The U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing prints currency. The United States Mint makes coins. Reserve Banks distribute, receive and process Fed notes, and distribute and receive coin through depository institutions. With 28 cash offices nationwide, the Fed services approximately 8,400 banks, savings and loans, and credit unions.

The U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) prints currency. Each year, the Board of Governor’s submits a print order based on their assessment of the growth rates for payments of currency to and receipts of currency from circulation. The Fed pays for the cost of printing new currency and moving it from the BEP facilities in Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas, to Reserve Bank cash offices. There is more than $1 trillion worth of Fed notes in circulation.

The United States Mint makes coin at its production facilities in Philadelphia and Denver. Reserve Banks submit monthly coin orders and 12-month rolling coin-order forecast. They store coin in their vaults and at coin terminals operated by armored carriers. 

How are coins and currency put into circulation? 
Depository institutions get coins and currency from their Reserve Banks.

How much coin and currency is in circulation?
There was approximately $1.70 trillion in currency in circulation as of January 31, 2019. This figure includes Federal Reserve notes ($1,655.2 billion), U.S. notes ($0.2 billion), currency no longer issued ($0.2 billion) and coins outstanding ($47.2 billion).

How long is the life span of U.S. paper money? 
The lifespan of U.S. paper money varies depending on the denomination. Visit the Federal Reserve’s estimated lifespans.

How is U.S. currency destroyed when it’s removed from circulation?
Reserve Bank cash offices use processing and authentication machines to determine if currency is genuine and fit for recirculation. They shred notes that are too worn for recirculation. 

Is U.S. currency legal tender for all debts? 
The "Legal Tender Statute" (section 5103 of title 31 of the U.S. Code) states “United States coins and currency (including Fed notes and circulating notes of Reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes and dues.” But person and organizations do not have to accept these forms of payments. 

What are U.S. notes? How do they differ from Federal Reserve notes?
They are the first national currency authorized by the Legal Tender Act of 1862 and issued directly by the Treasury. Both U.S. notes and Fed notes are part of our national currency and circulate as money in the same way.

Can I use older Federal Reserve notes when newly designed bills are in circulation? 
Yes. All U.S. currency remains legal tender. 

Is it against the law to write on dollar bills? 
Yes. Currency defacement is a violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code. The U.S. Secret Service has jurisdiction.


Attributes and History


What are the new currency note features? 
Visit Bureau of Engraving and Printing to learn more.

What materials are paper notes made of and who manufactures it?
The Crane Company in Dalton, Massachusetts, created the paper for the Treasury in 1879 and still holds the patent. The paper is 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen.

Who is in the painting on the back of the $2 bill?
“The Signing of the Declaration of Independence” by John Turnbull features the drafters of the Declaration of Independence — John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Jefferson presenting the document, and Benjamin Franklin — standing before John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress. The bill also features the portraits of 42 of 56 signers and 5 other patriots.

When was the ‘In God We Trust’ motto adopted?
Congress passed an Act on April 22, 1864, changing the design of the one-cent coin to include the motto and authorized the creation of the two-cent coin. “In God We Trust” first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.

What was the largest denomination ever issued? Who is pictured on it? 
The largest note was the $100,000 gold certificate, series 1934. President Woodrow Wilson is pictured on it.


How Do I


Buy sheets of uncut money?
Visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Determine if a note is counterfeit?
Visit The U.S. Secret Service.

Determine the value of an old coin or note?
Visit American Numismatic Society.

Find information on coin collecting?
For information on coin collecting, visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing or the United States Mint.

Safely clean old coins?
To clean ordinary coins in reasonably good condition, rub them with cheesecloth or cotton moistened with a paste consisting of baking soda and a few drops of water. You will not be able to restore a tarnished coin to its minted luster.


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