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Cool Facts

Money

New Cool Fact Image More than half of a dollar bill is considered legal tender. Only the front of a dollar bill is valuable. If you could separate the front of a bill from the back, only the front half would be considered "money."

The first use of paper money in North America was by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1690.

In 1877, the Department of Treasury created the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to produce all of the currency in the United States.

New Cool Fact Image Until 1929 bills measured 7.42 x 3.13 inches. It is now 6.14 x 2.61 inches--an easier size to handle and store. Since that size requires less paper, it is also less expensive to produce.

New Cool Fact Image Any badly soiled, defaced, torn, or worn-out currency that is clearly more than half of the original note can be exchanged at a commercial bank.

New Cool Fact Image The largest note ever printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was for $100,000. It was printed from December 18, 1934 through January 9, 1935. It was not circulated among the general public.

There are seven denominations (types) of paper currency produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.

New Cool Fact Image $500, $1000, $5000 and $10000 dollar bills have not been printed since 1946.

New Cool Fact Image The newest one dollar coin has Sacagawea and her baby on it. She was a Native American who helped guide the Lewis and Clark expedition. It and the Susan B. Anthony coin it replaces are nearly the same in size and weight. This is so vending machines will accept both. The coin is gold in color but contains no gold.

New Cool Fact Image During much of the 17th and 18th centuries, the Spanish Dollar coin was used in the American colonies. To make change the dollar was actually cut into eight pieces or "bits." Thus came the terms "pieces of eight" from these early times and "two bits" from our time.

New Cool Fact Image The last of the "State Quarters" to be minted will be Hawaii in 2008.

The dollar, half-dollar, quarter, and ten-cent coin denominations were originally produced from precious metals (gold and silver). Ridged edges were eventually incorporated into the design of these coins to deter counterfeiting and the fraudulent use of the coins, such as filing down the edges in an attempt to recover the precious metals.

New Cool Fact Image Coins that are merely bent or worn slick through natural wear are not considered mutilated and are exchangeable at full face value.

New Cool Fact Image Minting of US gold coins ceased in 1933. By 1970, silver was no longer used in US "silver" coins. The cent is now made of copper plated zinc.

New Cool Fact Image The approximate life span of a coin is 25 years. It is much less for bills. 45% of all bills printed each year are one dollar bills. One dollar bills usually last 18 months. A one hundred dollar bill usually lasts 9 years.

New Cool Fact Image E Pluribus Unum is Latin for "one out of many". It is thought to refer to "one united nation made of many states".

Banking

The origins of banking go back to ancient Mesopotamia where the concept was developed by farmers who wanted to store grain in a safe place in the city for retrieval at a later time.

The first public bank in the world opened in Barcelona, Spain, in 1401. The first savings bank in the U.S. did not open until 415 years later -- in 1816. It was the Provident Institute for Savings in Boston.

New Cool Fact Image The oldest bank building, First Bank of the United States, was built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1795.

Originally, banking hours were Monday - Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., probably to allow bankers time to handle the paperwork manually. Today, many banks have Saturday and evening hours. And, of course, ATM machines have made 24-hour banking the norm.

The United States of America has over 12,000 banks.

Homes

New Cool Fact Image High above the Verde Valley of Arizona are the cliff ruins of Montezuma's Castle. This five-story, twenty-room cliff dwelling served as a "high-rise apartment building". The prehistoric Sinagua Indians lived there more than 600 years ago.

Numerous early examples of apartment houses have been found in remains of Roman and medieval cities and the 17th-century Pueblo villages of North America.

Frontier-day log cabins were not just made of logs, but also included mud to seal the logs together and greased paper for use as windows.

America's first lighthouse, Boston Light, was built in 1716. It not only served as a navigational guide for ships, but also as a home.

New Cool Fact Image The Biltmore House outside Asheville, North Carolina is the largest house in the United States. It has 250 rooms total. There are 34 master bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, 3 kitchens, and an indoor swimming pool.

New Cool Fact Image The White House has 132 rooms, 32 bathrooms, and 6 levels. There are 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 7 staircases, and 3 elevators. President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.

The White House was not even the color white until 1814, when it had to be painted after the British burned it.

New Cool Fact Image Until recently, Eskimos sometimes built their snow houses as temporary shelters for use on long hunting trips. An experienced builder could make an igloo large enough for two people in under an hour.

New Cool Fact Image The Balch House in Beverly, Massachusetts is considered the oldest standing timber-framed house in the United States. It was built around 1636.

New Cool Fact Image The oldest state house still in use is the capitol building in Annapolis, Maryland. It is the largest wooden dome in the United States built without nails. It was built in 1772.

Home Owning

According to the Bureau of the Census, Americans spend about 32% of their incomes on their homes and other costs related to their homes.

About 67% of Americans own their own homes and the number is increasing each year.

The oldest recorded mortgages were in ancient Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs. 

It is important to pay your mortgage on time. In ancient Rome, if you did not pay it, you were forced to become a servant.

New Cool Fact Image In 1975 the average square feet of a new home built in the United States was 1645. In the year 2000 it had increased to 2250 square feet. Lot sizes decreased from 12,910 to 8,750.

New Cool Fact Image The average price of a new home in the United States at the end of 1999 was $203,200. For existing homes it was $168,300.

New Cool Fact Image 99% of the homes in the United States have complete indoor plumbing. A half century ago (1950) it was only 65%.

New Cool Fact Image Today more than 7% of homes in the United States are mobile homes. In 1950 mobile homes were less than 1% of homes.


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