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The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) was founded in 1862. At that time, outside printers manufactured the money. By 1877, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing became the sole producer of all of the United States currency. In 1894, they added also produced US postage stamps.

Today, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing no longer produces government obligations or postage stamps, but it is the largest producer of Government security documents with production facilities in Washington, DC, and in Fort Worth, Texas.

I went on the BEP tour this morning and it was fascinating.  Under normal conditions it is possible to see millions of dollars being printed during a tour.  But today they were in the process of changing from one denomination to another so we didn’t see much money being printed. The tour features the various steps of currency production, beginning with large, blank sheets of paper, and ending with wallet-ready bills! We did see stacks of money that had already been printed and money being packaged.

Ever 7 to 10 years they redesign our money, adding subtle background colors to the notes to make them more secure and difficult to counterfeit.

All bills, regardless of denomination, utilize green ink on the backs.  Faces, on the other hand, use black ink, color-shifting ink in the lower right hand corner for the $10 denominations and higher. All U.S. currency remains legal tender, regardless of when it was issued.  Today the factory makes $1, $2, $5, $10, $50 and $100 dollar bills. In the past they made $500, $1000, $10,000 and even $100,000 gold certificate in 1934.

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Production Facts (from the website; http://www.moneyfactory.gov)
  • During Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing delivered approximately 26 million notes a day with a face value of approximately $1.3 billion.
  • During Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing delivered approximately 6.6 billion notes at an average cost of 10 cents per note.
  • Over 90 percent of the notes that the BEP delivers each year are used to replace notes already in, or taken out of circulation.
  • • Between the Fort Worth, Texas and the Washington, DC facilities, approximately 9.6 tons of ink per day were used during FY 2013.