December 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Gilbert Stuart

Born in 1775, Stuart was a great
an painter famous for his portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other Presidents.

Above is his most famous portrait, called The Athenaeum, which is a portrait of Washington.

...It was never completed, although he and his daughters painted more than 130 reproductions of it, which they sold for US $100 each.

...And it ha
s been on the US $1 bill for almost the entire lifetime of the $1 bill.


Did you know tha
  • The first US $1 bill had a portrait of Salmon P. Chase.
Who the heck was Salmon P. Chase?
He was the Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln at the time when the bill was first issued, 1862. In 1869 the dollar bill was redesigned to have the Stuart portrait of Washington.
  • The first woman to appear on US money was Martha Washington, who was featured on a $1 “silver certificate” in 1886.
  • Today the US only prints bills up to $100 in value, but there used to be bills for $500, $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, and $100,000!
Seems like Monopoly money, huh?
Whose pictures were on these high-denomination bills?
$500: William McKinley (25th President)
$1,000: Grover Cleveland (22nd & 24th President)
$5,000: James Madison (4th Pres
$10,000: Salmon P. Chase
Hey, there's that guy again!

$100,000: Woodrow Wilson (28th President)
When the $100,000 bill came out in 1934, the US dollar was worth a lot more than it is now. According to Wikipedia, that much money in 1934 would be the equivalent of $1,591,521 today!
Can you imagine holding a piece of paper worth more than one and a half million dollars?
  • There are two US bills now in use that have portraits of people who were NOT presidents. Do you know who they are?
  • Money around world tends to have portraits of important citizens, words, symbols or national “seals,” and pictures (often of things that have to do with the person honored).

Brazil has pictures of animals, such as a hummingbird, a turtle, and a golden lion tamarin, on the back side of its banknotes.

Canada has pictures of children playing, art, and a map on the back side of some of its banknotes.

You can check out just about every kind of money here.
  • The money from Ecuador used to be called sucres, and 5 or 6 sucres equaled one US dollar. However, the sucre lost so much value in the 1980s that, by 1990, you needed 800 of them to get US $1!
Then it got worse.

By 1999, it cost 25,000 sucres to get just one US dollar!

So now Ecuador uses US dollars as its official currency.

You can see how your country's currency stacks up to other money from around the world here. (For example, type an amount of US dollars and see how many Euros that is worth.)
Play Money!

There are printable $1, $2, $5, and $10 bills from around the world here.

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