Contemplating cash: Little-known facts about your money

Though most of us think about money mostly when we don’t have enough of it, its history and development can be fascinating. Here’s a quick list of some surprising facts about U.S. cash.

• The biggest bill. The highest U.S. denomination was the $100,000 bill, bearing the likeness of Woodrow Wilson and issued in limited numbers in 1934 for Federal Reserve Bank transactions. The largest bill in public circulation was the $10,000 bill, bearing the face of Salmon P. Chase.

• The smallest bill. Paper money was first introduced in the U.S. during the Civil War to combat a shortage of coins. Bills were printed and distributed in denominations of 20 cents, 25 cents, and 5 cents.

• Groovy coins. A dime has 118 grooves along its edge; a quarter has 119. Ridges originally were added to make counterfeiting difficult; today they mainly serve the purpose of helping people with impaired vision to identify coins by touch.

• Change for a dollar. There are said to be 293 different combinations of coins capable of making change for one dollar.

• The weight of wealth. One million dollars in one-dollar bills would weigh about 2,040 pounds; in 100-dollar bills, that cool million would weigh in at about 20.4 pounds.

• Old vs. new money. A dollar bill typically lasts about 18 months in circulation before being “retired.” Five-dollar bills endure for about two years. Fifty- and hundred-dollar bills hang on for nine years.

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