The History of the Dollar Bill

The one-dollar bill bears a portrait of the first US President, George Washington.
The one-dollar bill bears a portrait of the first US President, George Washington.

The one-dollar bill is a United States denomination currency. It bears the picture of first US president, George Washington who ruled from 1789 to 1797. Washington’s picture appears on the front while the United States Great Seal appears at the back of the currency. Of all the currency designs ever produced, the one-dollar bill has the oldest design.

History of the Large One-Dollar Bill

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the first one-dollar bill as a Legal Tender Note. The currency featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase who served as the Secretary of the Treasury. Later, in 1869, the one-dollar bill portrait changed to bear George Washington’s picture in the middle and a Vignette of Christopher Columbus.

In 1874, revisions took place again on the front face of the one-dollar bill. The blue and green colors were removed and a red floral color added to the word, "WASHINGTON D.C". The words "UNITED STATES NOTE" also replaced the words "TREASURY NOTE" on the currency. Other changes took place in 1880 on the one-dollar bill. This is when the red floral surrounding the word, "WASHINGTON D.C" was changed to a big red seal.

In 1886, Martha Washington became the first woman whose portrait featured on a one-dollar silver certificate. The back of this note had an ornate design occupying the whole surface except the borders. It is worth noting that the changes on one-dollar bill occurred in terms of portrait and tainting up to 1923. By 1923, the one-dollar bill was the only note with standardized design and large size.

The Small Size One-Dollar Bill

The presently known one-dollar small sized bill changed in 1929. The notes had a dark blue treasury seal and serial numbers. On the same notes, the blue word "1 DOLLAR" changed to a big gray word "ONE". The notes were called funnybacks because they looked odd with the word "ONE" at the back.

One-dollar bill Silver Certificate changed in 1934 upon passing of the Silver Purchase Act. This time, they added the metal on one-dollar bill at the back. In 1935, one-dollar bill design changed where the front blue number one changed to gray and reduced in size. On the right side of the note, the gray word "ONE" changed to "WASHINGTON D.C" and treasury seal made it smaller. The back of the current one-dollar bill also changed.

In 1942, World War II raised issues about the one-dollar bill. The following changes took place in 1957 where the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" was added surrounding the word "ONE" at the back. In 1963, the one-dollar certificate notes became obsolete and the printing of one-dollar Federal Reserve Notes started. The back design of these notes did not change from the previous one-dollar certificate but its margin on the front face changed. The word "ONE" that dominated the margin was removed.

The Front and Back of the Current One-Dollar Bill

The present one-dollar bill front bears George Washington’s portrait. Around the portrait are bay laurel bunches of leaves. The Federal Reserve District seal appears on the left of the portrait among other features. The back of one-dollar bill is composed of the United States great seal on the left and the word "ONE"’ on the right. Further, the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" are designed on top of the bill among many other features.


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