On 21 April, the US government will release a new $100 bill.

The new banknote will be redesigned to prevent digital copying and counterfeiting.

Time.com has traced the history of banknotes. Here are 10 surprising facts about money:

  • The world’s largest single banknote is the 100,000-peso note created by the government of the Philippines in 1998. The note is around the same size of a sheet of legal paper and was designed to mark a century of independence from Spanish rule.
  • The largest banknote ever issued by the Bank of England was the £1,000,000 note. It was issued in 1948 as a temporary measure during the post war reconstruction. They were meant for the US government only, but after a few escaped into private hands, the notes were cancelled after a few months. Even though the notes are not in circulation, they still have value. One surviving note was sold for almost $120,000 at an auction.
  • When hyperinflation in Zimbabwe reached the ridiculous level of 231,000,000% and a loaf of bread hit to 300 billion Zimbabwean dollars, the government issued a $100 trillion note making the note the highest denomination in the world. But after just a few weeks, they decided not to continue with this plan and allowed people to do business in other currencies.
Banknotes of Zimbabwe after hyperinflation (Fedor Selivanov/Shutterstock)
  • All money could do with being laundered as it is extremely filthy. Studies show that a solid majority of US bills are contaminated by cocaine. Drug traffickers often use coke-sullied hands to move cash. The brushes and rollers in ATMs add to the distribution of the cocaine substances through the rest of the money supply. Bills are a good environment for viruses and bacteria can live on most surfaces for about 48 hours and paper money can reportedly transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days.
  • The world’s first ATM machine was installed in London in 1967. Although the machine used PIN codes, it was dependent on checks impregnated with radioactive isotope carbon 14 to initiate a withdrawal, as the magnetic coding for ATM cards had not yet been developed.
  • In 1865, a special division of the Treasury Department was created to tackle counterfeiting before it completely destroyed the USA’s economic system. That agency still exists today and continues to fight against counterfeiting, but it is now better known as the United States Secret Service.
  • Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait has been on the currencies of 33 different countries. This is more than any other individual. Canada was the first to use her portrait in 1935 on its $20 notes.
Queen Elizabeth II, Portrait from Eastern Caribbean 5 Dollars 2003 Banknotes. (Prachaya Roekdeethaweesab/Shutterstock)
  • The first country to use paper bills was China. They started carrying folding money during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907) — mostly in the form of privately issued bills of credit or exchange notes — and used it for more than 500 years before the practice began to catch on in Europe in the 17th century. It took another century or two for paper money to spread to the rest of the world.
  • The origin of the US dollar sign is still unknown. But the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the government agency responsible for designing and printing the dollar bills, says that the design was originally used to denote Spanish and Mexican pesos. “PS ” came to be written such that the S was on top of the P. The symbol was widely used before the 1875 issue of the first US paper dollar.
  • All bills will eventually wear out. The smaller the value, the more often they are used and will therefore have a shorter lifespan. A $1 bill will last about 21 months, while a $100 dollar bill can last up to more than seven years.

Join the conversation.

Keesing Technologies

Keesing Platform forms part of Keesing Technologies
The global market leader in banknote and ID document verification

+ posts

The Keesing Platform team brings you the latest in various fields, including security documents, security printing, banknotes, identity management, biometrics, blockchain, crypto technology and online onboarding.

Previous articleIreland could be added to USA’s E-3 visa programme
Next articleBelgium, Latvia, Malta, Lithuania win at ID awards