Secrets On Dollar Bills: Fun Secrets To Look For On Your Dollar Bills

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Have you ever taken any time to study your money?

Well… pull out a dollar bill from your wallet, purse, or pocket change. Do you notice all of the little symbols on that piece of currency?

Some people say there are secrets on the dollar bill – symbols that convey secret messages.

What are these symbols on the dollar bill and what do they mean?

This is something that I wanted to learn more about.

When I first started collecting coins, I naturally also had a little interest in collecting paper currency as well.

I noticed several things that stood out — like the pyramid with the eyeball. (I remember thinking that was kind of creepy when I was a kid, by the way.)

I also noticed that each dollar bill has a single, large letter on it — printed in black and located inside a circle.

Turns out, those seals (located to the left of the president) are Federal Reserve seal letters.


What Do The Federal Reserve Seals Represent?

The Federal Reserve Bank seal letters are somewhat analogous to mintmarks on coins.

Each of the big black letters on the dollar bill tells you which Federal Reserve bank placed the order for the bill.

Here’s the key:

  • A closeup of the eyes on a one dollar bill
    • Save
    A= Boston (1)
  • B= New York City (2)
  • C= Philadelphia (3)
  • D= Cleveland (4)
  • E= Richmond, VA (5)
  • F= Atlanta (6)
  • G= Chicago (7)
  • H= St. Louis (8)
  • I= Minneapolis (9)
  • J= Kansas City (10)
  • K= Dallas (11)
  • L= San Francisco (12)

Each letter corresponds to the respective number listed above.

Notice how the numbers are in sequence with where the letters are in the alphabet, I.E., A is number 1, B is number 2, and so on? These numbers appear 4 times on the face of the dollar bill.


Why Paper Dollar Bills Don’t Fall Apart

Paper money is made of paper, right?

So, how can it survive for months in circulation and not fall apart when it gets wet?

That’s because paper currency is actually made from a blend of linen and cotton!

Those little red and blue lines that you see on the white areas of your paper money are actually silk fibers interwoven into the material.


Spiders, Owls, & Other Hidden Secrets On Dollar Bills

If you look at your dollar bills closely, you will find what appears to be either a little spider or a tiny owl right near the large “1” at the top right of the dollar bill.

You will see this in the upper-left area of the shield that surrounds the “1.”

This symbol is an accidental occurrence from where the webbed lines vary in the design, and is not intentional.


What Do The Latin Phrases & Roman Numerals Mean?

Annuit Coeptis, which appears above the pyramid, means “God has favored our undertakings.”

Another Latin phrase, Novus Ordo Seclorum, appears below the pyramid and translates to, “New order of the ages.”

E Pluribus Unum will probably look very familiar to you, as the phrase appears on U.S. coins, too. It means, “Out of the many, one” and signifies the union of the 13 original colonies that came together to originally form our nation.

At the base of the pyramid are the Roman numerals MDCCLXXVI, which stand for the year 1776 – the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.


Why Is There A Pyramid On Dollar Bills?

So, what’s up with the pyramid and the eyeball?

The pyramid is a symbol of duration. With its 13 steps (a nod to the 13 colonies that originally formed our nation), it refers to the strength of our country.

The “Eye of Providence” is a visual representation of God looking over our nation — as stated in the phrase Annuit Coeptis.

Why is the pyramid unfinished? It’s symbolic of our nation, which, also, is an unfinished work.


Other Dollar Bill Secrets

Here are a few other fun facts about dollar bills:

  • The average dollar bill lasts 18 months in circulation, as compared to a coin, which typically survives about 30 years.
  • It currently costs 6 cents to produce a dollar bill. Conversely, a dollar coin costs 10 cents to strike.
  • Did you know you can track where your dollar bill has been using its serial numbers? If your dollar bill has been in circulation long enough, you might be able to find it on Where’s George — a website dedicated to tracking where paper currency ends up.

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24 thoughts on “Secrets On Dollar Bills: Fun Secrets To Look For On Your Dollar Bills”

  1. josh, heres a 1958 with a weak “n” in “one”…..everhear of one before? think theres any value to it?? thanks!!

    • Hi Kenneth,

      Weakness in strike is common among older coins, and this is quite possibly what caused the “N” on your 1958 penny to look weak. There usually isn’t any extra value for such pieces, but I would hold it aside anyway as it is a curiosity. Thank you for your question!

  2. Some other interesting fun facts:

    > The Federal Reserve city name isn’t where a bill was printed. Regardless of the district that ordered and distributed them, all bills are printed either in Washington DC or Fort Worth. If you look at the front of a $1 bill there’s a letter and number to the right of the bottom of the large “E” in ONE. If there’s nothing to the left of the letter and number the bill was printed in Washington. If there’s a tiny “FW” the bill came from Fort Worth.

    > Unlike coins, the date on a bill doesn’t indicate the year it was printed. It’s actually a “series” date that usually corresponds to the Treasury Secretary who was in office at the time the particular series began. In modern practice a series usually starts either when a new Secretary is appointed or a new design is adopted. US $1 bills haven’t been redesigned in decades (bad!!) so effectively series dates match with Secretaries. For example Timothy Geitner was appointed in 2009 and Jack Lew took office in 2013 so there are Series 2009 and 2013 bills but nothing dated 2010, 2011, or 2012.

  3. Just curious, I want to know virtually every little nit picky thing I can, just for the heck of it, like what is the last letter in the serial number for, and how high up does that letter go to? Does it go all the way to Z?

    • Hi, Dave —

      On modern notes, the second-to-last letter in the serial number refers to the issuing Federal Reserve Bank and can be anything from A to L. The last letter does not have a special meaning but is never O (because it looks like a zero) or Z (because that letter is commonly used for test pieces).

      I hope this answers your great question!

  4. Okay, thanks for all the wonderful info, however, I have a dollar bill that has a small number 88 on the back of the bill, sort of near the middle in the lower right. What does that represent?

    • It’s a serial number identifying the printing plate that printed the bill.

      The BEP website (moneyfactory dot gov) has a lot of cool information about special feature on US currency.

  5. My Mom collected dollar bills with the mint location of 11 on them. She used to tell us that it was associated with Kennedy assassination and she collected, $1, $3, $10, $50 and $100 dollar bills. Are they a collector’s item?

    • Hello, LaNorris —

      Yes, the designation “11” or “K” refers to the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, where those bills are printed. As you know, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and, thus, the connection with the “11/K” currency. There is, however, no special monetary value to these pieces because of that loose connection alone, though.

      As for the $1, $2, $10s, etc., there are, again, no special value to these pieces simply because of the appearance of “11” or “K” on those Dallas-derived pieces.


      • Actually bills are only distributed through the Federal Reserve Banks. They’re printed in Washington and Fort Worth. The Texas facility didn’t open till 1991 so any 1963 bill would have come from DC.

        LaNorris: to clarify, bills are printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The Mint is separate and only makes coins.

        And even though there’s zero connection between the district codes and Kennedy’s death, it’s still a pretty spooky coincidence – a bit like that 1898 novel about the sinking of an ocean liner called Titan.

  6. Hi I found a double headed Kennedy half dollar it looks real its for year 2000 how can I tell if it is real should it weigh a certain amount I was wandering if it is real

    • What you have is called a “magician’s coin”. Two-headed and two-tailed coins are made by cutting two genuine coins in half through the edge, then swapping sides and re-joining. Usually one side is hollowed out and the other side is cut down slightly to “pop” into the hollow.

      Magicians’ coins usually sell for $8-$12 in novelty shops. They make great conversation pieces but unfortunately don’t have any value as a numismatic collectible. You could always use it to make a bet … but be prepared to run fast if the other person calls “heads” 🙂

  7. Hi Josh how are you. I have a 1957 silver certificate it’s not real clean but I just wonder if it’s worth anything1957 silver certificate I know there was a lot of errors in that year but I’ma send a picture and you tell me if its worth anything would you please

    • Hi, David —

      While I have nearly 25 years of experience in collecting and writing about coins, I am not an expert in paper currency and would feel uncomfortable telling you whether or not your 1957 silver certificate has any minor errors that I may not be particularly keen about. I do know, having a few of these pieces myself, that 1957 $1 silver certificates are generally common, especially if not in Crisp Uncirculated condition, but — as you point out — there may be some errors with this date, but I don’t know them all.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t be of much assistance in this case. One of the leading paper currency resources that I know of online is here:

      Perhaps they could help you in this situation?

      All the best,

      • David, Josh – I know a bit more (not a huge amount but some, ha!) about recent US paper currency. As you said, Series 1957 $1 silver certificates are among the most common bills of that type. Even today they don’t usually retail for more than $1.50 in average condition. In part that’s because silver certificates were discontinued with the 1957-B series. Many $1 bills with that date, regardless of series letter, were saved as keepsakes.

        The only thing that caught my eye is the “Z” prefix letter in the bill’s serial number. In general the BEP skips over certain prefix letters like “O” to avoid confusion and “Z” to indicate experimental printings. However so many series 1957 $1 bills were printed that the entire alphabet was used except for “O”. That means your bill’s a standard $1 note rather than an experimental one.

        But even if it’s not really valuable, the blue color and different design mean it’s a nice keepsake and conversation piece. You could put it in small frame and display it as a conversation piece to show how US paper money once looked!

  8. Hello Josh. How are you I was wondering if you all that you do with us coins I happened upon a bunch of World coins and having a hard time understanding the website for the putting into in the way they operate and I just wanted to get a couple of my looked at maybe get a trusted grade on a couple of them

  9. I actually heard that on each dollar bill $1, $2, $5… so on, if you fold each if them a certain way, one will show the twin towers and each other will show it crumbling down until it’s gone.

  10. I hear that the Federal Reserve ( a privately owned bank ) is pushing for a cashless system. If this happens they will be able to track every transaction you make.

  11. The Federal Reserve system prints money from thin air, backed by nothing, then lends it to the government and people at interest. Currently the national dept is over 21 trillion dollars, and the private dept is about 50 trillion dollars. The amount of currency in circulation is only about 15 trillion dollars, so if we were to put every dollar in circulation toward paying off the total dept of about 71 trillion dollars, there would still be about 56 trillion dollars of dept remaining. The only way to create currency is for someone to borrow it into existence. So, there is absolutely no way to pay off the dept. To sum it all up, the majority of the dept is interest, which was never actually created and doesn’t exist. We have to rid ourselves of the Federal Reserve and have the U.S. Treasury coin money as per the Constitution, interest free. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. dollar has lost 97% of it’s value due to excessive printing and debasing, which is a capital offense. Read “The Creature from Jekyll Island”

  12. Right? I ended up here researching How out of 11 digits could every single bill have a unique identifier. It’s not mathematically possible and even with the bills that get destroyed every 18 months I’ve never seen where they record the numbers first so they don’t record the numbers and they have no idea if every bill actually has a unique indetifier as they claim. It’s impossible!. The feds and the fairy tales…


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