50 Fun Facts About Banks

Nearly 1 year ago I wrote 50 Fun Facts about Credit Cards, a post that was very well received, so I figured why not follow that up one year later with another 50 fun facts post – this time talking about banks. I like reading about history so the first batch of facts revolve around the central bank, starting with the First Bank of the United States and ending with our current Federal Reserve system (you can see the progression!), then wash that meal down with some more entertaining facts like some other firsts, a few mind boggling statistics, and then some fun stuff like bank robberies and banking sponsorship information. It was fun (and educational) putting it together so I hope you enjoy reading the list. (much like last time, I added in a few bonus facts!)

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 Personal Finance 

Buildings On United States Money Bills

Pull out a fifty dollar bill and flip over to the back of the bill, do you recognize what building that is? Now, if you ask anyone except this year’s Miss North South Carolina (my apologies!), you probably could get it on your first couple guesses (it’s an identifiable building but it’s not something that everyone could pull off the top of their heads) and it would probably take a few more guesses to get what exactly happens in that building. If you were to do the same with the twenty, I bet a few more people would be able to guess what that is. Move up to the hundred and you’d probably get fewer people able to guess the building and what happens there… so I figured I’d give a recap.

$1 Bill

One Dollar Bill $1
The dollar bill doesn’t have a building on the back of the bill and one of the only two bills not to have a building on the back of it. The back of it features the two “sides” of the Great Seal of the United States: the coat of arms (the obverse) and the pyramid (the reverse). The obverse of the seal, the coat of arms, is used to authenticate documents issued by the US government and is stored in the Exhibit Hall of the US Department of State.

$2 Bill

Two Dollar Bill $2
The two dollar bill is the other bill without a building on the back, it’s actually a picture of the drafting committee presenting a draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress.

$5 Bill

Five Dollar Bill $5
Ahh, now we’re talking buildings. The back of the five spot is none other than the memorial to the face on the front, the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial itself doesn’t conduct any official business, since it’s a memorial, but that doesn’t mean a lot of important events haven’t happened there. Arguably the most significant event that has happened there was when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, 100 years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Incidentally, the Lincoln Memorial also appears on the penny as well.

$10 Bill

Ten Dollar Bill $10
The back of the ten dollar bill is the Treasury Building, fitting since the front has the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. The Treasury Building is the home of the US Department of the Treasury, one of the Cabinet departments and is responsible for managing government revenue. Through the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Mint, the Treasury prints and mints all the currency used in the US; and through the Internal Revenue Service, it collects all federal taxes. There are plenty of other responsibilities but I think you get the idea.

$20 Bill

Twenty Dollar Bill $20
The back of the twenty dollar bill is none other than the 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW – The White House. I think that’s all that needs to be said about that building. 🙂

$50 Bill

Fifty Dollar Bill $50
The US Capitol building graces the back of the fifty dollar bill and it is the location of the legislative branch of the United States, the Congress. It contains two wings, one for the House of Representatives (south of the rotunda) and one for the Senate (north of the rotunda), in which all of the legislative business is handled and has done so since 1800’s. In fact, even the Supreme Court met in the Capitol until a building was constructed for the Judicial branch in 1935.

$100 Bill

Five Dollar Bill $5
Last but not least, Independence Hall is the building on the back of the hundred dollar bill and it’s another landmark building and the only one that isn’t in Washington D.C. Independence Hall is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is where the Declaration of Independence was debated and signed back in the late 18th century. In fact, in addition to the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution were all signed in Independence Hall. And as another piece of trivia, the Liberty Bell (the one with the crack) was the bell used in the hall’s bell tower (until the crack).

Larger Bills

None of the larger bills, all of which are no longer in circulation, have pictures of buildings on the backs and in fact none of them have anything other than the denomination repeated in larger numbers. Only the $5,000 bill and the $10000 bill has an image on the back. The $5,000 features George Washington resigning his commission to Congress and is taken from a painting by John Trumbull. The $10,000 has a picture of the Embarkation of the Pilgrims. 🙂

There you have it, a quick recap of all the buildings gracing the backs of our nation’s currency. I hope you picked up as much fun trivia as I did in writing this and have a great Labor Day!

Images of the $1 – $10 are courtesy of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the rest are courtesy of Wikipedia.

 Business, Credit, Personal Finance 

50 Fun Facts About Credit Cards

I was a little bored one day and thought I’d try to find fifty fun facts about credit cards that I didn’t know before hand and put them all in once place for you all to munch on and enjoy over the weekend. Some of the things I already knew, like the AMEX Centurion card has a $2500 annual fee and a $250,000 annual spend requirement, but others I didn’t, like how American Express started off as a shipping company and later branched out into financial services.

I broke the fun facts into these general categories: Historical Nuggets (with subcategories for each major card company), Useful Things That Make You Go Hmmmm…, Technobabbliciousness, Legal Ways You’ve Been Hosed & Un-Hosed, and Department of Holy Crap They Make A Ton of $$$$$. Historical Nuggets obviously covers the history of cards and the various companies. The Useful Things That Make You Go Hmmmm… covers some useful consumer information that may one day come in handy in your daily life. Technobabbliciousness covers some interesting facts about the technology behind credit cards. Legal Ways You’ve Been Hosed & Un-Hosed covers various court rulings and other legalese that explain why the environment is the way it is (like ridiculous fees and interest rates!). Finally, Department of Holy Crap They Make A Ton of $$$$$ is just a collection of mind-boggling statistics that should make you think twice about starting your own credit card company.

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 Personal Finance 

Pictures of Big Bills – $500, $1000, $5000, $10000

$100000 Woodrow Wilson Gold CertificateIn 1969, the Treasury Department and the Fed discontinued $500, $1000, $5000, $10000 and $100,000 bills (that bill above is real) because no one used them anymore though a new bill hadn’t been printed since 1945. The bills are all legitimate legal tender and still in circulation (except the $100,000, which was only used in “fiscal channels”) but most are owned by collectors. While you probably don’t really ever need any of these bills, you can see pictures of them Bureau of Engraving and Printing website but here, for your pleasure, I’ve linked to them directly.

I never knew that non-Presidents ever graced the face of ‘modern’ US Legal Tender until today (John Marshall was a Supreme Court Justice and Salmon P. Chase was a Secretary of the Treasury)… here are some other trivia tidbits:

  • John Marshall (1918 Blue Seal) and William McKinley (1928 Green Seal) are on the $500 bill
  • Alexander Hamilton (1918 Blue Seal) and Grover Cleveland (1928 Green Seal) are on the $1,000 bill
  • James Madison is on the $5,000 bill
  • Salmon P. Chase (Secretary of the Treasury from 1861 – 1864) is on the $10,000 bill
  • Woodrow Wilson is on the $100,000 gold certificate, which was never put into circulation.

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