When you look at a bill – $1, $5, $10, etc, do you ever think about how it gets made? Take a look at the art on bills, how that art ends up on each bill.
Who Designs the Bills?
US Currency bills are designed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which is a part of US Treasury. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is in charge of designing and printing all the bills we use every day. Artists at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing work together to create every bill.
The First thing an artist does is to draw what he or she wants their bill to look like. The next step is to create an engraving. The artists who do this are called engravers. They use special tools to carve the drawings into metal plates.
Because the engraver’s job is so difficult, the must study and practice at least 10 years before they can engrave their own plates. They actually learn from other artists who already know how to make bills.
Things to Look For
Have you ever noticed that all bills are exactly the same-sized rectangle? They must all be the exact same size to pass inspection. Speaking of shapes, you can also find ovals, stars, and circles in the art on bills.
Look closely at a bill and you will see thousands of tiny lines. Some are thick and some are thin. They all do different things. Some lines are straight and others have curves and swirls. Some are drawn very close together or even overlap to create a pattern.
America has a lot of important symbols from history built into the artwork on out bills. For example, you will see stars and stripes from the American Flag, Bald Eagles, and even the Statue of Liberty.
Every bill has a drawing of a statesman from history on the front. A statesman is a well-known person whose work has shaped the direction of the country. This can be a president or someone who ran an important part of the government. Drawings of famous buildings are also on bills, like the White House and the Capital building in Washington DC.
The artwork on every bill is quite fancy. When you look at the shape of the numbers and the designs around the edges, you will notice that they are detailed and very beautiful. Artists work very hard to make every bill look like a unique piece of art.
Color is used in different ways on bills. One way is the use of color on some of the symbols and numbers on bills. There is a purple 5 on the $5 bill and there are blue stars and red stripes on the $50 bill. Another use of color is in the background of bills. Part of the background on $100 bills is blue, while part of the background on the $20 bill is orange.
If you feel the paper a bill is made of, it doesn’t feel like regular paper. It feel rough and a little thicker because it’s a special paper made with cotton and linen.
Because this special paper is made with cotton and linen, it makes the bill much more durable. Durable means that something is made to last a long time. This is why bills don’t fall apart if they are left in your pocket and wind up in the washing machine.
You also might feel texture on the bills in the form of little bumps and ridges. This is because you are feeling the raised printing in some of the artwork.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Check out the Money Adventure Mobil App, created by the US Currency Department.
Money Adventure is a fun, interactive smartphone and tablet app that helps students learn about the security and design features of Federal Reserve notes. This digital tool brings learning to students’ fingertips, making Money Adventure a classroom and at-home resource.
Money Adventure has two primary components—a note front explorer and a note back explorer. In the note front explorer, students can tilt and tap an interactive $20 bill to discover its unique features. In the note back explorer, students team up with Buck the Time-Traveling Dog on a quest through the historical events illustrated on the back of U.S. currency.
Download the app on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, depending upon your device.