U.S. dollar

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U.S. dollar
1 US dollar note - "Greenback"
Country: United StatesUnited States United States

BonaireBonaire Bonaire Brit. Virgin Islands Ecuador El Salvador Cambodia Liberia Marshall Islands Micronesia East Timor Palau Panama Saba Sint Eustatius Turks and Caicos Islands
British Virgin IslandsBritish Virgin Islands
El SalvadorEl Salvador 
Marshall IslandsMarshall Islands 
Micronesia, Federated StatesMicronesia
East TimorEast Timor 
St. EustatiusSt. Eustatius 
Turks Islands and Caicos IslandsTurks and Caicos Islands 

Subdivision: 10 Dime
100 Cent (¢)
1000 Mill (₥, obsolete)
ISO 4217 code : USD
Abbreviation: USD, US $, $
Exchange rate :
(August 24, 2020)

EUR  = 1.185 USD
1 USD = 0.844 EUR

CHF  = 1.101 USD
1 USD = 0.908 CHF

Issuer : Fed

The US dollar [ ˈdɑlɚ ] ( United States Dollar; abbreviation: USD; symbol: $ ) is the official currency unit of the United States . The US dollar is also used as official and legal tender in several other countries and regions. These include Bonaire , the British Virgin Islands , Ecuador , El Salvador , Cambodia , Liberia , the Marshall Islands , Micronesia , East Timor , Palau , Panama , Saba , Sint Eustatius and the Turks and Caicos Islands .

A dollar is officially divided into 10 Dime , 100 Cent (Symbol: ¢ or c ) or 1000 Mill (Symbol: ₥). Due to the green color scheme of the back of the banknotes, the dollar is also known colloquially as the "greenback". The term "buck" is also common. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is responsible for printing the banknotes . The United States Mint is responsible for minting coins . The US dollar is freely convertible .

Origin of the "$" character

The origin of the well-known $ symbol , which also stands for the US dollar, cannot be clearly determined. It is possible that the character from the abbreviation for the Spanish florin ( guilder ) widespread in the New World and in particular the abbreviation "Ps.", Which arose for peso ; in North America at the time also known as the "Spanish dollar". The explanation is based on the fact that when writing the "S" over time the "P" was written and thus a new character was created. The rounding of the "P" gradually fell away and the "$" remained. According to another theory, this symbol is a stylization of the pillars of Heracles as they are used as the Spanish state symbol .

The Spanish dollar was a widely used currency in the United States until it was replaced by the US dollar in 1785. The "$" symbol by no means exclusively stands for the US currency, but is still used today as a common peso symbol in many Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America .


The origin of the United States' single currency dates back to 1690 when several British colonies existed on the east coast of North America. At that time, the colonies were very valuable as suppliers of raw materials, including tobacco and cotton . The 13 colonies levied customs duties on their borders, which made trade very difficult. In addition, the English currency was not accepted, the British pound was banned. There were different currencies for trading within the American colonies. One of the colonies, the " Massachusetts Bay Colony " (today the American state of Massachusetts with its capital Boston ) was the first colony to use its own paper money to finance the military. The other colonies followed suit. (see also history of the US Army )

One-third continental dollar issued in Philadelphia on February 17, 1776
4 dollar banknote 1776
55 dollar banknote dating from 1779

The British tried to impose restrictions on the development of an industry and finance economy that was independent of the motherland. In 1704 the minting of coins was banned in all colonies. In order to continue trading, the colonists mostly used Spanish or Dutch currency (Netherlands: guilder ; Spain: real ). In this context, the term dollar was created , derived from the European name " Taler ". Silver coins of Spanish origin were known as "Spanish dollars".

In 1775 the American War of Independence broke out. The Continental Congress , which represented the government of the colonies, had its own banknotes, the so-called continental dollars , printed as the new official currency of the colonies . However, due to the weak financial system and the high rate of forgery, the newly introduced currency did not stay in circulation for long or quickly lost value.

In 1781, the Continental Congress asked what was then the first national bank, the Bank of North America in Philadelphia , for help. The aim was to strengthen the financial system . In 1785 the dollar was introduced as the new currency of the USA; The first coins were issued in 1787. In 1792 the monetary system was laid down in law in the Coinage Act (coining laws).

The US dollar has been a decimal currency right from the start . The USA was the first state to permanently introduce this system. The dollar was divided into 10 dimes, 100 cents and 1000 mills. $ 10 equals one eagle. The term 'dime' is still used today for the 10-cent piece; however, the dime is not an invoice currency . The mill was never used on coins, but was used in certain cases well into the 1960s. The cent served as a model for the hundredths of almost all currencies existing around the world. The new coins were minted from gold, silver and copper.

On March 3, 1849, the US Congress passed a law ("Mint Act", also "Gold Coinage Act") that allowed the United States Mint to mint two gold coins. This created the “Gold Dollar” and the “Double Eagle” with a face value of 20 dollars.

The first dollar banknotes made of paper were put into circulation in 1861/1862 to finance the Civil War . The notes were called "greenbacks" because of their color and featured portraits of famous Americans on the front. The new bills were more difficult to forge and bore the Treasury's seal .

In 1913 the central bank (" Federal Reserve Bank ") was founded (legal basis: Federal Reserve Act ). The aim was to structure the financial system in such a way that it could adapt to the changing needs of the country. The first note of the newly established central bank was issued in 1914. Later, the bank's board of directors decided to reduce the size of the notes by 30 percent to reduce manufacturing costs.

Over the years the US dollar gained more and more international importance. At the meeting in Bretton Woods ( New Hampshire , USA) in 1944, where the Bretton Woods system was created, the US dollar was chosen as the reserve currency. This system is a monetary system that was developed by representatives of a total of 44 countries and the International Monetary Fund . The aim of the new system was to create smooth global and international trade through the establishment of fixed exchange rates. It was not until August 1971 that this system was seriously disrupted when Richard Nixon removed the gold backing of the US dollar. In the spring of 1973, 29 years after its inception, the Bretton Woods system collapsed.

Almost all of the surviving paintings by the French painter Victor Dubreuil (approx. 1840–1910), who lived in the United States from 1886 at the latest, have the same theme: the US dollar, here Money to Burn , 1893.

The appearance and size of dollar bills did not change until 1996 when new security features were introduced to protect against counterfeiting. Since then, changes have taken place at regular intervals.

Gold standard and gold ban

As part of the official gold standard currency , gold dollars have existed as curant coins since the "Currency Act" in 1900 . Since around 1900, all minted silver dollars and their sub-units down to the 1 cent piece were divisional coins .

In 1900 the gold parity per dollar was set at 1.504632 grams.

When the Great Depression began in 1929, the value of an ounce of gold was only US $ 20.67, which means that an increase in the supply of money to counter the crisis would not have been covered by the gold reserves. The crisis spread around the world and many countries suspended the gold standard, which led to a devaluation of money.

On April 5, 1933, the prohibition on private gold ownership, in accordance with the so-called " Gold Ban Decree" by Franklin Roosevelt , after a change in the draft of March 9, 1933, finally became legally binding. This included private ownership of all gold coins, gold bars and gold certificates. The owners have been asked to surrender their gold for a value of $ 20.67 an ounce. It was no longer possible to exchange coins and banknotes for gold. On January 31, 1934, the gold parity per dollar was set at 0.888671 grams, which corresponds to a value of $ 35 per troy ounce. According to the agreement, an exchange of dollars for gold (US $ 35 per ounce ) was only possible in commercial, international trade.

The US produced dollars beyond the real value of its gold reserves. The US dollar reserves in Europe and Japan exceeded the American gold reserves as early as 1960.

Thus, on August 15, 1971 , the Nixon government announced that extraordinary measures would be required to protect the American economy. These measures involved the abolition of the right to convert the dollar into gold.

Then the dollar, measured against gold, lost so much of its value within three years that it was only a fifth of its original gold value.

It was not until 1974, over 40 years after its enactment, that the ban on private gold ownership was lifted again.

Nowadays, like most of the world's currencies, the US dollar is no longer linked to a specific standard, but is mainly correlated with the economic performance and the total national wealth of the country, but also depends on the respective political stability and military supremacy of the state system.

Exchange rate development

Since World War II, the US dollar has become the world's dominant reserve and trade currency. Despite the end of gold convertibility in 1971 by US President Richard Nixon and many political upheavals, the USA retained this supremacy for many years.

Between 2002 and 2004 the dollar lost around 15 percent of its weighted average value against all currencies of US trading partners due to an enormous deficit in the US trade balance. After a brief "recovery phase", the loss in value continued since 2006 and was further exacerbated by the mortgage crisis in mid-2007. By spring 2009, the US dollar had risen again by around 13 percent. Since then, however, the currency has lost again by around 13 percent (as of November 2009).

German mark

For the dollar rate in German marks from 1948 to 1998 see the external value of the German mark .


Exchange rate of the dollar to the euro

After the euro was introduced as book money on January 1, 1999, it could be exchanged for US dollars just four days later at a rate of 1.1789 euros. The euro fell sharply against the US dollar over the next two years. The highest level of the US dollar was recorded on October 26, 2000 at 0.8252 dollars for one euro. The US dollar lost more than 50 percent of its value against the euro between 2002 and 2004. The subprime crisis that began in the USA in 2007 led to a further devaluation of the US dollar. Interest rates were lowered and funds from investors and speculators began to flow out. The dollar reached its all-time low on July 15, 2008 at a rate of $ 1.5990 for one euro. After a continuous increase since March 2014, the dollar exchange rate rose again to a price of 1.16 dollars per euro (July 2020).

Exchange rate of the dollar to the Swiss franc

Swiss franc

From 1945 to 1971 the franc was pegged to the US dollar through the Bretton Woods system , a dollar cost 4.30521 francs from 1945 to 1949, and from 1949 until the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, 4.375 francs. Since then, the US dollar has depreciated against the Swiss franc. The US dollar achieved its first equivalence to the Swiss franc on March 14, 2008. The previous low was on August 9, 2011 at 0.7215 francs per dollar.

Exchange rate of the dollar to the Japanese yen

Japanese yen

The Japanese yen is the third most widely traded currency in the world after the US dollar and the euro. The currency lost much of its value at the end of World War II and was pegged to the US dollar in 1949 as part of the Bretton Woods system. At that time, one dollar was worth 360 yen. The yen has been freely trading since 1973. The Japanese currency has a much weaker international weighting than the euro and the dollar. By 1971 the yen was undervalued, prompting the US to act and move away from the gold standard. In 1971 a new exchange rate of 308 yen against the dollar was set, but it was difficult to maintain, and in 1973 the world's major currencies were made free.

Annual average Japanese Yen exchange rates
year 1 JPY year 1 JPY year 1 JPY
1995 $ 0.0106 2000 $ 0.0093 2005 $ 0.0091
1996 $ 0.0092 2001 $ 0.0082 2006 $ 0.0086
1997 $ 0.0083 2002 $ 0.0080 2007 $ 0.0085
1998 $ 0.0076 2003 $ 0.0086 2008 $ 0.0096
1999 $ 0.0088 2004 $ 0.0092 2009

Exchange rate of the dollar to the pound sterling

Pound Sterling

Annual average exchange rates to the pound sterling
year 1 GBP year 1 GBP year 1 GBP
1995 $ 1.5781 2000 $ 1.5130 2005 $ 1.8182
1996 $ 1.5602 2001 $ 1.4369 2006 $ 1.8400
1997 1.6371 USD 2002 1.4987 USD 2007 2,0009 USD
1998 1.1211 USD 2003 1.1312 USD 2008
1999 $ 1.0658 2004 1.2439 USD 2009

International significance of the US dollar

Since the Bretton Woods system, the US dollar has been used as the world's leading, transaction and reserve currency . It is the world's most traded currency.

In some countries around the world, the US dollar is an unofficial minor or second currency. In some states it is possible to pay in US dollars without having to convert it into the actual local currency. Some raw materials are traded in this currency unit on the world market. This includes crude oil , for example , with the money flowing into the seller countries being returned to the international markets under the term petrodollar .

The role of the US dollar as a reserve currency

While the euro share of global currency reserves increased significantly, the share of the US dollar has only fallen insignificantly in recent years. It is generally assumed that the euro will steadily gain in importance as a global reserve currency, while the US dollar will lose importance. Worldwide, the US dollar can account for more than 60% of total investment reserves, which corresponds to several trillions. The FED can dispose of this value and offer it in the form of loans on the world market. The interest that has to be paid on these loans represents the seigniorage income of the FED.

Reserve currencies used internationally (figures in percent) (4th quarter of the year)
1970 1980 1990 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
USD 77.2 67.2 62.8 70.5 70.7 66.5 65.8 65.9 66.4 65.5 64.1 64.1 62.1 61.8 62.2 61.2 61.0 63.3 64.1 63.9 62.7 61.7 60.9
EUR - - - - 17.9 24.2 25.3 24.9 24.3 25.1 26.3 26.4 27.6 26.0 25.0 24.2 24.4 21.9 19.7 19.7 20.2 20.7 20.6
DEM 1.9 14.8 19.8 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
JPY - 0.1 4.6 9.4 5.2 4.5 4.1 3.9 3.7 3.1 2.9 3.1 2.9 3.7 3.5 4.0 3.8 3.9 4.0 4.2 4.9 5.2 5.7
GBP 10.4 2.9 2.4 2.8 2.7 2.9 2.6 3.3 3.6 4.4 4.7 4.0 4.3 3.9 3.8 4.0 4.0 3.8 4.9 4.4 4.5 4.4 4.6
FRF 1.1 1.7 2.7 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
CHF 0.7 3.2 0.8 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
other 8.7 5.9 4.9 1.4 1.2 1.4 1.9 1.8 1.9 1.8 1.8 2.2 3.1 4.4 5.3 5.8 6.5 6.8 6.7 7.6 7.6 7.8 8.0

1970–1984: BIS : The evolution of reserve currency diversification, December 1986, p. 7, Tab. 1 (English)
1995–2016: IMF : Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves
1999–2005 (absolute figures only): ECB : The Accumulation of Foreign Reserves , Occasional Paper Series, No. 43
2017–2019: IMF: World Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves

Role as transaction currency

The US dollar accounts for over 50% of international financial transactions, making it the most widely traded currency in the world. After the Second World War, the British pound , the reserve currency at the time, was largely replaced by the US dollar on the ( financial ) markets. US dollar transactions in 2003 were 50% versus 25% in euros and 10% each in pounds sterling and Japanese yen .

Legal tender role

Countries with currencies that are linked to the euro or the US dollar:
  • United States of America
  • other countries with US dollars as legal tender
  • Currencies with a fixed exchange rate peg to the US dollar
  • Currencies with a narrow exchange rate range to the US dollar

  • Members of the European Monetary Union with Euro
  • other countries with euro as legal tender
  • Currencies with a fixed exchange rate peg to the euro
  • Currencies with a narrow exchange rate range to the euro
  • In some states and regions outside of the United States and its suburbs , the US dollar is used as an official or legal tender despite its status as a foreign currency in these areas. These include:

    In addition, the following states and territories are passive users of the US dollar, some of which is the de facto currency:

    Current currencies pegged to the US dollar with a fixed exchange rate:

    currency Exchange rate countries
    Antilles guilder 1: 1.79 Curacao
    Sint Maarten
    Aruba florin 1: 1.79 Aruba
    Bahamian dollars 1: 1 Bahamas
    Bahraini dinar 1: 0.376 Bahrain
    Barbados dollars 1: 2 Barbados
    Belize dollars 1: 1.97
    (de facto 1: 2)
    Bermuda dollars 1: 1 Bermuda
    Eritrean Nakfa 1: 15 Eritrea
    Jordanian dinar 1: 0.709 Jordan
    Cayman Dollars 1: 1.227
    (de facto 1: 1.25)
    Cayman Islands
    Qatari riyal 1: 3.64 Qatar
    Convertible peso 1: 1
    (de facto plus 10% commission)
    Cuban peso 1:24 (CUC to CUP) 1:25
    (CUP to CUC)
    (de facto coupled via CUC)
    Lebanese pound 1: 1,507.5 Lebanon
    Omani rial 1: 0.3845 Oman
    East Caribbean dollar 1: 2.7 Anguilla
    Antigua and Barbuda
    St. Kitts and Nevis
    St. Lucia
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    Panamanian balboa 1: 1 Panama
    Saudi riyal 1: 3.75 Saudi Arabia
    Turkmenistan manat 1: 3.50 Turkmenistan
    UAE dirham 1: 3.6725 United Arab Emirates

    Dollar indices

    US dollar index

    US Dollar Index 1966–2012

    After the collapse of the Bretton Woods system , the geometrically weighted US dollar index (USDX) was introduced in March 1973 and set to a value of 100. Usually only one currency is weighted against another. With USDX, the US dollar is set in relation to six other currencies. This comparison is intended to show the value of the US dollar in a meaningful way.

    The index represents a basket of the following currencies: the euro (57.6%), the Japanese yen (13.6%), the British pound (11.9%), the Canadian dollar (9.1%), the Swedish krona (4.2%) and the Swiss franc (3.6%). A US dollar index of 120 means that the US dollar is worth 20% more than the same basket of currencies in 1973 ( benchmark ).

    The USDX has been listed on ICE Futures US , formerly the "New York Board of Trade" (NYBOT), since 1985 .

    Trade Weighted US Dollar Index

    The trade-weighted Trade Weighted US Dollar Index is comparable to the geometrically weighted US Dollar Index . The US Federal Reserve (FED) has been calculating the effective exchange rates in the index since 1998 with a broad group (The Broad Index) of trading partners. This is split into a main group (The Major Currencies Index) and a subsidiary group (OITP - Other important trading partners).

    Compared to the US Dollar Index, the FED's index measures the value of the US dollar much more accurately, as the weighting of the FED represents the competitiveness of US goods compared to other countries and trading partners.

    The Major Currencies Index has fallen sharply in recent years and is currently at an average value of 76.1018 points (as of September 2010). Compared to 1985, when the index reached a high of an average of 140 index points, it has stagnated since 2007 at a value between 70 and 80 index points. Conversely, this means that the US dollar has depreciated significantly in relation to the other currencies in recent years.

    Average Major Currencies Index from 1973 to 2010
    year Points
    1973 100.2277
    1982 115.7585
    1991 88.5180
    2000 101.5737
    2009 78.1149
    2010 76.1018



    Coins in use in the United States of America
    Face value front back portrait motive Weight diameter thickness material edge
    1 cent
    Front penny Back penny Abraham Lincoln until 2008 Lincoln Memorial
    2009 changing motifs
    from 2010 heraldic shield
    2.50 g 19.05 mm 1.55 mm 97.5%  Zn
    2.5%  Cu
    5 cents
    Front nickel Nickel back Thomas Jefferson Monticello
    2004/05 changing motifs
    5.00 g 21.21 mm 1.95 mm 75% Cu
    25%  Ni
    10 cents
    Front dime Back dime Franklin D. Roosevelt Olive branch, torch, oak branch 2.27 g 17.91 mm 1.35 mm 91.67% Cu
    8.33% Ni
    118 corrugation
    25 cents
    Front quarter Back quarter George Washington until 1998 bald eagle
    from 1999 changing motifs
    5.67 g 24.26 mm 1.75 mm 91.67% Cu
    8.33% Ni
    119 corrugation
    50 cents
    "half dollar"
    Front half Back half John F. Kennedy Seal of the President 11.34 g 30.61 mm 2.15 mm 91.67% Cu
    8.33% Ni
    150 corrugations
    1 dollar
    Back dollar Sacajawea Bald eagle flying until 2008,
    changing motifs from 2009
    8.10 g 26.50 mm 2.00 mm 88.5% Cu
    6% Zn
    3.5%  Mn
    2% Ni
    from 2009 inscription
    1 dollar
    Obverse dollar Back dollar President of the United States
    (series of motifs)
    statue of Liberty 8.10 g 26.50 mm 2.00 mm 88.5% Cu
    6% Zn
    3.5%  Mn
    2% Ni
    Eagle from 1894

    Over time, more coins with different denominations were minted:

    • Half cent , ½ cent (1793-1857)
    • Two cents (1864–1873)
    • Three cents, 3 cents (1851-1889)
    • Twenty cents, 20 cents (1875–1878)
    • Quarter Eagle, $ 2½ (1796-1929)
    • Three dollars , three dollars (1854–1889)
    • Half Eagle, $ 5 (1795-1929)
    • Eagle , $ 10 (1795-1933)
    • Double Eagle, $ 20 (1849-1933)

    The $ 10 gold coin, known as the Eagle because of its eagle motif, as well as the quarter, half, and double eagle coins, and also the $ 1 and $ 3 gold coins that were in circulation, became withdrawn from the Federal Reserve Bank in the wake of the gold ban. The " Double Eagle ", which was still minted with the year 1933 and valued at 20 gold dollars, was no longer issued due to the gold prohibition decree. One of the 20 or so unmelted copies was sold at an auction on July 30, 2002 at the Sotheby’s auction house in New York for the record price of a total of 6.6 million US dollars, which is probably the highest collector price paid for a coin to date.

    History of coins


    From 1793 to 1857, the 1 cent piece was a 27 to 29 mm large copper coin, known as the "Large Cent". From 1856 to 1858 the front motif was a flying eagle and from 1859 to 1909 a portrait of Liberty with an Indian headdress. Since 1909 the obverse has shown a portrait of Abraham Lincoln designed by Victor D. Brenner . Between 1959 and 2008 the Lincoln Memorial was on the back . In 2009, four special motifs were embossed in honor of Lincoln and a coat of arms has been on the back since 2010.


    A portrait of Thomas Jefferson has been featured on the obverse of the 5-cent nickel coin since 2006 . The portrait shows Jefferson in his position as Vice President at the age of 57. This painting was the basis for most of the paintings made by Jefferson during his lifetime. The inscription “Liberty” was modeled from his own handwriting. This inscription first appeared on the nickel coin in 2005. The design of the back of the nickel in 2006 was sharper and more detailed than ever. This is due to the fact that the engravers of the United States Mint provided their original with more details (such as balconies, windows, doors).


    On January 30, 1946, the so-called dime (ten cent coin) in the version with the image of President Franklin D. Roosevelt , in memory of his death on April 12, 1945, was introduced. This coin is still in circulation today. One reason for the introduction was that shortly after Roosevelt's death in 1945, many citizens turned to the Federal Ministry of Finance in writing with the request that the portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt be struck on a coin, as the latter applied during his lifetime participated in a research program called the March of Dimes for cures for the polio virus at the age of 39 . On the other side of the coin is a torch that stands for freedom, an olive branch that symbolizes peace and the branch of an oak tree, which symbolizes strength and independence. Of all the coins, the dime is the smallest and thinnest that is still in use today. The sound of the name "Dime" was the same back then as it is today, but the spelling has been changed. At that time, the dime still wrote “disme”. This is based on the old Latin term "decimus", which means something like tenth.

    "Quarter Dollar"

    The quarter dollar, which has been produced since 1796, is worth 25 cents or a quarter of a US dollar. The first coins in circulation featured Lady Liberty on the obverse and the bald eagle on the reverse. In 1932, for the 200th birthday of George Washington, a new quarter was introduced with its image.

    In 1999, the 50 State Quarters Series was started. Since then, five US states have been awarded a quarter annually. In 2009 the series was supplemented with editions for the District of Columbia and five suburbs . Starting in 2010, the America the Beautiful Quarters program will feature five national parks or other sites of national importance annually .

    "Half dollar"

    The obverse of this 50 cent coin features a portrait of John Fitzgerald Kennedy , who was the youngest president ever elected. The presidential elections formed the basis for the portrait on the coin. The sculptor Roberts created this design immediately after Kennedy's assassination. The design on the back was based on the presidential seal. It consists of the image of a heraldic eagle with a shield on its chest, which holds a symbolic olive branch in one claw and a bundle of 13 arrows in the other. This eagle is surrounded by a wreath of 50 stars, these stars symbolizing the 50 states.


    The 1 dollar coins made of silver have been minted since 1794, with some longer interruptions. The first coins were the so-called Flowing Hair Silver Dollars , they showed the profile of Miss Liberty with flowing hair (1794–1803). In 2013 such a coin was auctioned for 10 million US dollars, the highest amount ever paid for a coin. The second minting period for 1 US dollar coins made of silver lasted from 1840 to 1873, the third from 1878 to 1904 or 1921. In the third minting period, the Morgan dollar was minted. In 1921 the fourth minting period (until 1935) began, in which peace dollars were minted.

    Two different 1 dollar coin series are currently in production. On the one hand, there is the Sacagawea dollar , which was issued for the first time in 2000 and since 2009 has had special, annually changing motifs in honor of the Native Americans ("Native American $ 1 Coin"); on the other hand, there is the presidential dollar series (“Presidential $ 1 Coin Program”), which was implemented in 2007. Both series of 1 dollar coins are gold-colored. This is due to a special mixture of different metals, although it does not contain gold. These coins have the same "electromagnetic signature" as the previous Susan B. Anthony dollar (SBA dollar), which was silver in color. This coin was very similar to the Quarter in terms of color and size, which often led to confusion. Since this coin was rather unpopular, the 1 dollar bill remained the more common means of payment. The minting of this coin was discontinued in 1980, but special mintings followed in 1981 and 1999. Although this coin is rarely in circulation these days, it is still considered a means of payment. They are most likely to be found as change at vending machines.

    Ironically, the popularity of the "Presidential Dollars" was partly undoing, as they are very popular with collectors and have been withdrawn too often from payment transactions. Originally, the introduction of the new series of motifs was aimed at making the dollar coin a more common means of payment compared to the dollar bill, as bills wear out faster and therefore have to be replaced earlier. In the meantime, however, this approach has been abandoned and it has been decided to consciously continue the series for collectors - with a significantly reduced number of issues.



    The dimensions of the notes in circulation do not differ (in spite of their different value) in terms of their paper cut (e.g. with the euro) and are uniformly 155.81 mm by 66.42 mm. The thickness is not specified and is given as 0.1 mm to 0.6 mm; However, most of the surrounding notes have a thickness of 0.11 mm. There have been many different types of dollar bills in the past. Nowadays only so-called Federal Reserve Notes are issued. Nonetheless, the 1965 law governing the status of dollar bills as legal tender refers to the United States Dollar Notes, then considered the primary currency . They are referred to as “Legal Tenders” or, because of the red seal, “Red Seal”. This law states that these same United States Dollars, along with Federal Reserve Notes and notes issued by National Banks and Federal Reserve Banks, are legal tender. The old gold certificates and silver certificates are therefore not legal tender . Only Federal Reserve Notes are produced and issued today, and there are no others in circulation either. The manufacturing and paper costs per dollar are 3.6 cents per dollar bill. The main component of the dollar is denim , a particularly tightly woven cotton fabric.

    Face value front back portrait Backside motif
    1 dollar United States one dollar bill, obverse.jpg United States one dollar bill, reverse.jpg George Washington Lettering "ONE" and both sides of the state seal
    2 dollars US $ 2 obverse.jpg US $ 2 reverse.jpg Thomas Jefferson Signing the Declaration of Independence (painting by John Trumbull )
    5 dollars US $ 5 Series 2006 obverse.jpg US $ 5 Series 2006 reverse.jpg Abraham Lincoln Lincoln Memorial
    10 dollars US10dollarbill-Series 2004A.jpg US $ 10 Series 2004 reverse.jpg Alexander Hamilton US Treasury Department
    20 dollars US20-front.jpg US20-back.jpg Andrew Jackson White House
    50 dollars 50 USD Series 2004 Note Front.jpg 50 USD Series 2004 Note Back.jpg Ulysses S. Grant Capitol
    100 dollars Obverse of the series 2009 $ 100 Federal Reserve Note.jpg New100back.jpg Benjamin Franklin Independence Hall
    Last printed in 1945; Withdrawn in 1969; still legal means of payment:
    $ 500 500 USD note;  series of 1934;  obverse.jpg 500 USD note;  series of 1934;  reverse.jpg William McKinley (written representation of the face value)
    $ 1,000 1000 USD note;  series of 1934;  obverse.jpg 1000 USD note;  series of 1934;  reverse.jpg Grover Cleveland (written representation of the face value)
    $ 5,000 US $ 5000 1934 Federal Reserve Note.jpg US $ 5000 1934 Federal Reserve Note Reverse.jpg James Madison (written representation of the face value)
    $ 10,000 10000 USD note;  series of 1934;  obverse.jpg 10000 USD note;  series of 1934;  reverse.jpg Salmon P. Chase (written representation of the face value)
    Not in circulation, but still legal tender:
    $ 100,000 US100000dollarsbillobverse.jpg US100000dollarsbillreverse.jpg Woodrow Wilson (written representation of the face value)
    Back of the Great Seal of the United States on the back of the one dollar note


    • Banknotes with a value of over 100 US dollars are no longer issued these days, but are still considered legal tender, although their collector 's value far exceeds their face value today. Most of the specimens that are still in circulation are owned by collectors and museums.
    • The highest denomination note ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was a 1934 gold certificate for $ 100,000. This was only issued against gold of the same value. This note was only used for transactions between central banks.

    Special features of the banknotes

    Serial numbers of the banknotes

    The serial number of a dollar bill is based on a uniform scheme for all bills: It consists of two capital letters, followed by eight digits, and finally another capital letter.

    Example: DL82674476A

    Explanations based on the example:

    • D: The first letter indicates the series or edition of the note, e.g. B. the "D" indicates that this ticket belongs to a series from 2003. If the design of a banknote changes, a new series is issued, regardless of the extent of the change. For example, a new series can be printed due to the change in the signature on the slip. A new series is put out about every one to two years.
    • L: The second letter shows the bank from which the note was issued. There are central banks at twelve locations, which are assigned the following letters:
    • 82674476: The series of numbers is a consecutive number.
    • A: This letter always counts up by one letter as soon as the consecutive number has reached its end and has to start again at 00000001. The letters O and Z are omitted, making 24 combinations.

    In addition, there are the “star notes”, also known as replacement banknotes, which are issued for faulty notes. In the American monetary system, the serial numbers are preceded by an asterisk or star , in German: asterisk "*".

    The green of the "greenbacks"

    There is no precise explanation as to why the backs of US banknotes were printed with green ink. It is known that in 1929 the green dye was present in large quantities and that it was relatively resistant to chemical and physical changes in the manufacturing process. Furthermore, the color green is intended to express the strength and stability of the government and to create trust in the currency.

    Security features

    Since July 5, 1865, there has been a cooperation between the United States Secret Service , the Federal Reserve System and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to develop measures to keep the occurrence of forgeries as low as possible. In 1966 the government began printing security features on banknotes. In order to continue to ensure the security of the currency, the design of the notes is changed every seven to ten years (except for 1 and 2 dollars):

    • Security thread : The security thread is a thin strip that runs through the banknote. This cannot be reproduced by printing. All series printed after 1990 (except the $ 1 and $ 2 notes) contain this feature. The nominal value of the note is printed on this strip.
    • Microscripts: These imprints appear as a line when viewed normally, but with the aid of a magnifying glass, the respective nominal value of the grade becomes visible. Most copiers do not have enough resolution to recognize these fonts.

    The following security features have also been used since 1996.

    • Watermark: This mark is created by different degrees of density of the paper. If the banknote is held up to the light, the portrait of the person depicted on the banknote becomes visible.
    • Optically variable ink : The color of the inscription changes when you look at it from different angles.
    • Fine line structures: line patterns are printed on the front behind the portrait and on the back around the historic building. These lines are visible to the eye but are difficult to see by scanners and printers.
    • Enlarged, offset portraits: The larger images are more detailed and thus make counterfeiting the banknote more difficult. The respective portraits have been shifted slightly to the side to make room for the watermark and the security thread. The enlarged images make it easier for visually impaired people to identify the grade value.
    Front of the renewed 100 dollar note

    In February 2011, a variant of the 100 dollar bill equipped with additional security features was to be brought into circulation in order to counteract the high rate of forgery. A 3D security tape, an additional watermark, a gold-colored printed “100” and a 3D image that changes between a bell and the “100” depending on the angle of view should bring the notes up to date in terms of security and make counterfeiting more difficult. On October 1, 2010, it was announced that the delivery of the new notes would be delayed because the planned quantities could not be produced on time due to problems in the manufacturing process. According to press reports, up to 30% of the produced notes are faulty, so that production has been stopped for the time being and "old" notes will continue to be printed for current needs. The new $ 100 bill was issued on October 8, 2013.

    Other names for the US dollar

    A common name for the dollar is buck . The term is possibly the short form of the term buckskin (suede), which was considered a means of payment in the early American years. 100 dollars are also called large , 1000 dollars are often called grand (or G). The $ 10 and $ 20 notes are also known as the sawbuck and double sawbuck . Like the banknotes, individual coins also have corresponding nicknames. 1 dollar is also referred to as "single", 2 dollars as "deuce" and 5 dollars as "fin" or "fiver".

    Sometimes the names of the people depicted on the front of the notes, such as "George", "Tom" or "Frank", are used as nicknames. Dead presidents is also an occasional paraphrase, regardless of the fact that Alexander Hamilton , who is depicted on the $ 10 bill, and Benjamin Franklin , whose portrait is on the $ 100 bill, are not presidents were.


    The word LIBERTY ("freedom") can be found on all dollar coins minted since 1793 . The motto E pluribus unum (“One out of many”) initially only carried a few gold and silver coins. It is now part of all US coins. With the Coinage Act of 1864 , the 2-cent piece was introduced. It was the first coin with the inscription In God we trust (" In God we trust "). The saying was gradually adopted on the other coins and has been minted on all coins since 1938. The banknotes only bear the inscription In God We Trust . This first appeared in 1957 on a silver certificate for one dollar after the saying was declared a national motto in 1956.

    Hawaiian dollars

    In order to prevent larger dollar stocks from falling into enemy hands in the event of a possible conquest of Hawaii, Hawaii's own banknotes were issued from June 1942. These had the same motif as the normal dollar bills, but the seal of the treasury and the serial number were printed in brown instead of red or blue and the imprint HAWAII was added, twice small on the front and once large on the back. The series included $ 1, $ 5, $ 10, and $ 20 notes.

    See also


    • Anton Zischka : The dollar - splendor and misery of a currency. Munich 1986, ISBN 3-7844-7172-2 .
    • European Central Bank: Review of the International Role of the Euro. (PDF; 900 KB) , Frankfurt 2005.
    • Günther Schön: World coin catalog 20th century. Battenberg Verlag, Augsburg 1993, ISBN 3-89441-096-5 .
    • Hans Harlandt: The money. Schäuble Verlag Rheinfelden, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-87718-542-8 .
    • Krumnow, Gramlich (Ed.): Gabler-Bank-Lexikon: Bank - Stock Exchange - Financing. 12th edition. Gabler, Wiesbaden 1999, ISBN 3-409-46112-4 .
    • Oettermann, Stephan: Strong money. What the dollar has to do with Hercules. In: Diagonal. Journal of the University-Comprehensive University-Siegen on the topic: Money. Siegen 1991, pp. 133-134.

    Web links

    Wiktionary: USD  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wiktionary: US dollar  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : US dollars  - collection of images

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