You see them every day. They disappear quickly. So quickly in fact, we don't pay much attention to them. What are they? Dollar bills.
The following things were used as money:
The Chinese were some of the first people to use coins as money. In China, copper was plentiful; so they used it to make their money.
After making copper coins for nearly 150 years, the Chinese people began to run out of the reddish metal. When this happened, the Chinese began creating their money out of paper. They used paper money for about 500 years, then stopped. That was centuries before the "dollar" as we know it existed.
Early dollars were created from a mountain
In the Ore Mountains of Bohemia, in the heart of Europe, the dollar was born.
In 1519--more than 480 years ago--there was a silver mine at the foot of Mount Klinovec. The mine was in the town of Joachimstal or Jachymov. (Try to say that one!)
The townspeople minted coins out of the silver from the mine. They named these early coins "Joachimstaler" after their town. To make it easier to say, they shortened the name to thaler.
|Read about the 15 different dollar coin versions in this sidebar|
During this time, the U.S. colonies belonged to England. Each colony had its own money. Many used gold and silver coins, and other unique forms of money.
The paper money problem
After the Revolutionary War, gold and silver were hard to find, so the colonies switched from coins to paper money. Everyone agreed at that time each "dollar" would be worth 100 cents.
The U.S. was the first nation to adopt an official currency, named the dollar. The first (paper) one-dollar bills appeared in 1785.
During the switch from coins to paper dollars, people could exchange paper money for gold and silver coins, and vice versa. That's where the term, "good as gold" comes from.
The problem with this new plan was that the U.S. colonies didn't have enough gold and silver on hand to make equal exchanges. So, no one could be exactly sure what the paper money was worth at any one time. This caused many problems.
|Check out some fun things to do with dollars in this sidebar.|
Many years later, after the Great Depression, Congress made it easier. It passed the "National Bank Act of 1863," which created national banks in cities throughout the U.S. People quickly accepted paper money as the standard form of currency. One U.S. dollar still equals 100 pennies.
The story on a $1 bill
The markings found on the current one-dollar bill tell an incredible story. Look at the face, and the back for pieces of its rich history.
There are more than 10 identifying marks on the front of the one-dollar bill. On the back, there are five, including the Great Seal of the U.S. Do you understand the design and symbolism of the dollar bill? To learn more, go to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' web site for kids.
By Heather Harris
|What is Money Made Of?||Where in the World Does Money Come From?||Mutilated Money|
Click Abe's head for the answer.