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MONEY: Paper Money

General Guides     History     Theories on the Dollar Sign   Individual Bills


General Guides

The sites below provide answers to frequently asked questions about U.S. money covering such topics as buying, selling, and redeeming denominations, legal tender status, portraits and designs, production and circulation, facts about individual banknotes, counterfeiting, and collector fact sheets.

Anatomy of a Bill NOVA Online
Part of Secrets of Making Money External Link PBS Online External Link

Dollars and Cents: Fundamental Facts About U.S. Money
Federal Reserve Bank (Atlanta) External Link

FAQs: Currency
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury

U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing

U.S. Currency Education Program
Federal Reserve Board

 Table of Contents

Paper Money
Government Agencies
For Kids
Additional Reading
Internet Resources
LC Subject Searches


Woman posed with stack of packages of $1 silver certificates at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C. [between ca. 1950 and ca. 1969]

Image :
Woman posed with stack of packages of $1 silver certificates at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C. [between ca. 1950 and ca. 1969]

Prints and Photographs Division
(Library of Congress)
Reproduction number: LC-USZ62-92466


The History of Money External Link (Internet Archive)

Colonial Currency
A project of the Robert H. Gore, Jr. Numismatic Endowment, University of Notre Dame, Dept. of Special Collections.
by Louis Jordan External Link

The Leslie Brock Center for the Study of Colonial Currency
University of Virginia External Link

Bowers, Q. David and David M. Sundman. 100 Greatest American Currency Notes: The Stories behind the Most Fascinating Colonial, Confederate, Federal, Obsolete, and Private AmericanNotes. Atlanta, Georgia : Whitman Pub., ©2006.
LC Call Number: HG591 .B69 2006
LC Catalog Record: 2006366004

A collection of stories on 100 paper notes issued by the United States over the past 300 years and accompanied by color illustrations and valuations. Notes are ranked based on the results of a survey taken by currency collectors, writers, and dealers in the field. The introduction includes a brief historical overview of paper money in America, a section on collecting and enjoying the hobby, along with aspects of the marketplace. The guide is meant to be an easy-to-read appreciative take on the more recent popularity of paper money collecting.

Dauer, Joanne C. and Edward A. Dauer. American History as Seen Through Currency: A Pictorial History of United States Currency as Seen Throughout Important Historical Events. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida : Edward and Joanne Dauer, ©2003.
LC Call Number: HG591 .D38 2003
LC Catalog Record: 2004298670

Friedberg, Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg A Guide Book of United States Paper Money: Complete Source for History, Grading, and Values. 3rd ed. Atlanta, Georgia : Whitman Pub., ©2011.
LC Call Number: HG591 .F75 2011
LC Catalog Record: 2011410147

This is an introductory guide by professional numismatists that is encyclopedic in scope, offers color illustrations throughout along with valuations (history, grading and values). Friedberg numbering system is given as a way to measure collection’s completeness and facilitate cataloging. Introduction includes story of national monetary history from colonial times to the present.

Friedberg, Robert, Ira S Friedberg and Arthur Friedberg. Paper Money of the United States: A Complete Illustrated Guide with Valuations. 18th ed., Clifton, New Jersey : Coin and Currency Publishing Institute, ©2006.
LC Call Number: HG591 .P37
LC Catalog Record: 98658624

Color illustrations begin on page 313-336. Specimens are from the currency collection of the American Numismatic Association and the “American Currency Exhibit” of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Hepburn, A. Barton (Alonzo Barton). A History of Currency in the United States. New York : Augustus M. Kelley, ©1967.
LC Call Number: HG501 .H43 1967
LC Catalog Record: 67027414

This is a revised edition with new chapters on the monetary and financial developments in the United States from 1914 to 1922, with a preface by Mrs. Hepburn on the author's relation to the establishment of the Federal Reserve System.

Newman, Eric P. The Early Paper Money of America: An Illustrated, Historical, and Descriptive Compilation of Data Relating to American Paper Currency from its Inception in 1686 to the Year 1800. 5th ed. Iola, Wisconsin : Krause Publications, ©2008.
LC Call Number: HG591 .N45 2008
LC Catalog Record: 2006930834

Standard Catalog of U.S. Paper Money. Iola, Wisconsin : Krause Publications. c1981-
LC Call Number: HG591 .S7 2014
LC Catalog Record: 95645001

This annual reference guide is geared towards paper money hobbyists and covers note issues of the U.S. federal government since 1812, including large and small size currency notes, national bank notes, pre-Civil War U.S. Treasury notes, postage and factional currency, military payment certificates, encased postage stamps and postage stamp envelopes, notes of the Philippines and error notes. Numerous photographs and background information is provided so that readers are educated on how to build their own collection. The introduction explains the numbering system used at the beginning of each entry and abbreviations used in the grading guide.

Tschachler, Heinz. The Greenback: Paper Money and American Culture. Jefferson, North Carolina : McFarland, ©2010.
LC Call Number: HG591 .T834 2010
LC Catalog Record: 2010006529

Social, cultural and historical contexts of paper money are explored by examining the use of symbols and visual elements on American paper bills from Colonial times through the present day.

Theories on the Dollar Sign

There are many theories as to the origin of the dollar sign. None have been "verified," but many feel that the most likely explanation is from the abbreviation pieces of 8 (peso) seen referenced in Spanish currency.

Cajori, Florian. A History of mathematical notations. Chicago, IL: The Open Court Publishing Company [1928-1929]
LC Call Number: QA21.C135 1928
LC Catalog Number: 28024355

Origin of the Dollar Sign
U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Scroll to the middle of the above FAQ page to locate the information on the origin of the dollar sign in the Symbolism section.

The Word "Dollar" and the Dollar Sign $
Origins, History and Geography of Dollar Currencies

by Roy Davies External Link

Individual Bills

U.S. Currency (U.S. Bureau of Engraving & Printing)

United States Dollar External Link

U.S. One Dollar Bill External Link

U.S. Two Dollar Bill External Link

U.S. Five Dollar Bill External Link

U.S. Ten Dollar Bill External Link

U.S. Twenty Dollar Bill External Link

U.S. Fifty Dollar Bill External Link

U.S. Hundred Dollar Bill External Link

Large Denomination bills in U.S. Currency External Link

Last updated: 09/19/2017

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