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16 Mind-Blowing Facts About Money That Will Make Your Jaw Drop

Harriet Tubman will soon replace Andrew Jackson as the face of the $20 bill, becoming the first woman in more than a 100 years and first African American ever to appear on the front of a paper note. But this is far from the first big change our nation currency has seen.

Pennies used to be a lot snarkier

istock/Catherine Lane

Renaissance nerd Benjamin Franklin designed America’s first U.S. penny in 1787. Instead of E PLURIBUS UNUM, it was emblazoned with the motto: "MIND YOUR BUSINESS".

That eagle was a celebrity


The eagle on your money may have a name. From 1830 to 1836, a certain bird swooped into Philadelphia’s U.S. Mint building so often that workers named him “Peter the Mint Eagle,” cared for him, and allegedly used him as a model for coin engravings for years to come.

Pennies could bankrupt us


Today, it costs more than a penny to make a penny. According to the U.S. Mint, it costs them roughly 1.7 cents per coin. Here are some genius uses for all those spare pennies.

Your change makes the TSA wealthier


Change adds up fast. In 2015, the TSA collected $765,759.15 in loose change at airport security checkpoints across the country. They get to keep it all.

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Paper money is not paper


U.S. paper money is not paper at all: It's 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen. In Ben Franklin’s day, people repaired torn bills with a needle and thread.

Money: the ultimate compost


Today, we trash them. A farm in Delaware mulches more than four tons of worn-out U.S. cash into compost every day.

Machine rejecting your bill? Microwave it


It takes about 4,000 double folds (first forward and then backward) before a bill will tear. It takes far fewer folds for a vending machine to reject your bill—but you can fix that by popping your Washington in the microwave for about 20 seconds to crisp it right up. Here are other unexpected things to put in the microwave.

Most paper money never sees puberty

Jonathan Kitchen/Getty Images

Bill death happens more often than you’d think. With a lifespan of about 4.5 years, the $10 bill is our shortest-living note. Our longest-living note, the $100 bill, lasts only 15 years.

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$2 bills are not as unique as you think

istock/Christopher Bradshaw

$2 bills are seen as a rarity, but there are more than 1.1 billion of them in circulation. You can request some from most local banks.

Printing new money uses 9 tons of ink. EVERY. DAY.


The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing uses nearly 9 tons of ink to prints 26 million currency notes each day, with a face value of approximately $974 million. Recession? What Recession!

There was once a $100,000 bill


The largest note ever printed was the $100,000 Gold Certificate (printed from December 1934 through January 1935.) They were only used in transactions between Federal Reserve Banks and the U.S. Treasury.

The grooves on your quarters serve an important purpose

istock/Steve Debenport

A quarter has 119 grooves around the edge; a dime has 118. The grooves were added to keep people from scraping off the coin faces and selling them as precious metals.

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The secret service was created to stop counterfeiting


Following the Civil War, between a third and half of all cash in circulation was counterfeit. The U.S. Secret Service was originally created on July 5, 1865 to fight the counterfeiting epidemic. Here are other surprising facts about the Secret Service.

A carolina farm boy funded the country for 25 years


The first U.S. gold rush started in North Carolina in 1803, when 12-year-old Conrad Reed found a 17-pound gold nugget on his father's farm. It supplied all the gold for the nation's mints until 1829.

The tech boom is NOTHING compared to the Gold Rush

istock/Jerry Moorman

Thanks to the tech boom, rent and grocery bills in San Francisco have rocketed 21 percent above the national average—but that’s nothing compared to the Gold Rush. In the 1850s, a dozen eggs could cost you the equivalent of $90 in today’s money, a pick axe the equivalent of $1,500, and a hotel room upwards $300,000 a month. Just goes to show: If there’s a gold rush, sell pickaxes.

There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar

istock/Catherine Lane

Need to keep someone busy for a long time? There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar. Challenge them to find them all. By the way, here are what all those symbols on the dollar bill mean.

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