While there’s a ton of cool things to do with money, (Besides spending it), and some really awesome facts out there about U.S. currency, not many people know the true history of the paper and coins we use today.
Back in 1775, America began creating its own currency in the form of notes aptly named “Continental Currency”. However, these notes never took off.
In 1792, the United States mint was created, delivering the first batch of 11,178 copper cents. By 1862, we see the introduction of paper currency, called demand notes, while coins are growing in popularity and denominations. By 1886, we see Martha Washington on the $1 silver certificate – the only currency emblazoned with a female’s portrait.
1909 is the year that Lincoln’s portrait is cast on the one cent coin, commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth. In 1938, the nickel is emblazoned with Thomas Jefferson’s portrait and his historic home, designed by Felix Schlag, for a prize of $1,000.
There are many flops in U.S. currency’s past, such as the $100,000 gold certificate that never made it out of the mint. Other coins, like the Booker T Washington half dollar, Susan B. Anthony dollar, Sacagawea dollar, and Hellen Keller quarter are produced, but fall flat with consumers.