Secrets of the Dollar Bill

By Bob Masterson

dollar bill

On the back of the One Dollar bill, you will see two circles.  Together, they comprise the Great Seal of the United States of America.  The First Continental Congress requested that Benjamin Franklin and a group of men come up with a Seal.  It took four years to accomplish this task and two years to get it approved.


Let's start off with the circle encapsulating the pyramid.  The Latin above the pyramid, ANNUIT COEPTIS, means ‘God has Favored our undertaking’, and the Latin below the pyramid, NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM, means ‘a new order has begun.’

Notice the face is lighted, and the western side is dark.  Our Country was just beginning. Our Country had not begun to explore the west or decided what we could do for Western Civilization.  The Pyramid is uncapped, again signifying that we were not even close to being finished.  Inside the capstone you have the all-seeing eye, an ancient symbol for divinity.

The other circle contains an Eagle, our national bird.  Above the Eagle you have thirteen stars, representing the thirteen original colonies.  They say that the number 13 is an unlucky number.  You will never see a room numbered 13, or any hotels or motels with a 13th floor.  But think about these:



13 Original Signers of the Declaration Of Independence 13 Strips on our flag 13 Steps on the Pyramid 13 Letters in ‘Annuit Coeptis’ 13 Letters in ‘E Pluribus Unum’ 13 Stars above the Eagle 13 Bars on the Eagles shield 13 Leaves on the olive branch 13 Fruits on the branches 13 Arrows in the Eagles talons

The first dollar bill also referred to as note or legal tender was issued by the Federal Government in 1862.  But that dollar didn't have George Washington's portrait on it.  The first dollar had the Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase's portrait.  George was not put on the bill until seven years later in 1869.

Of all the notes printed by by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the $1 note makes up about 45% of currency production and has an average life of under 4 years compared to a $100 bill that can last over 8 years.

You can find many more interesting facts about money at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Thanks to Genisys Credit Union for providing us the information on the seals and the US Treasury for the remaining facts.