The Mysterious Dollar Bill

March 9, 2017 1:08 am0 commentsViews: 13
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What do all those symbols, numbers and strange phrases mean?

As every economic study shows, Americans are spending less money these days. Fear of unemployment, underwater mortgages and shrunken retirement accounts have led us to hold on tight to every dollar. And since we’re holding it anyway, let’s take a good look at it. What do all those symbols, numbers and foreign phrases mean?



On the front of a dollar bill, the green symbol to the right of George Washington is the official Seal of the U.S. Treasury. The scales shown in the image represent not justice, but a balanced budget.


To the left of George, you will see a capital letter inside a circle. The letter shows which branch of the Federal Reserve Bank issued the bill. There are several such banks, and each one is designated by a letter. B is for New York, C is for Philadelphia, etc.


On the back of the bill, the two circles represent the two sides of the Great Seal of the United States. Benjamin Franklin was a member of the committee that designed the Great Seal. Its purpose, to put it simply, was to summarize the founding concepts of the new nation.


The pyramid in the left circle has 13 steps, symbolizing the original 13 colonies. The Roman numerals MDCCLXXVI, representing 1776, appear at the base. The pyramid is unfinished, to represent the founders’ belief that America would grow and improve. The “all-seeing eye” atop the pyramid represents the guidance of Divine Providence in the creation of the United States.


There are three Latin phrases on the back of a dollar bill:

Annuit Coeptis means “God has favored our efforts.”

Novus Ordo Seclorum means “New order of the ages.”

E Pluribus Unum (above the eagle) means “Out of many, one.”


The Bald eagle represents courage and the wisdom to rise above storms. It holds an olive branch in one talon, representing a desire for peace, and a set of arrows in the other, representing a willingness to fight when necessary. ■