Prior to humans using coins as currency they’dbarter for things, such as tools used for
But eventually it just made sense to createsomething used as a unit of value, instead
of lugging around all your belongings anytimeyou wanted to trade.
Back in the day, and we mean many thousandsof years ago, that form of currency might
have been shells, beads, or amber.
Then the Mesopotamians around 5,000 yearsago created the first coin, known as the Mesopotamian
In time we had debt, taxes, and anyone withlots of these coins could gain great power
by paying for armies.
Cash could provide well-being, and it couldencourage a man to kill his own brother.
Money makes the world go around, but in someways it’s still pretty cheap.
Let us explain.
We carry this stuff around with us almostall of the time, but we don’t usually think
about where it comes from.
Money gets a raw deal really, because we justdon’t care about its past.
We only care about what it can get us.
It’s a very selfish relationship we havewith money.
We earn it, and then we give it to someoneelse and never once think about its history.
Well, it’s actually quite special this thingcalled money.
It’s not easy to make and a lot of expertiseand labor goes into producing it.
Otherwise, we’d all be printing money andmaking coins in our own back yards.
It’s got to be perfect, and in the USA theBureau of Engraving and Printing makes sure
that cash is just that.
This takes many man hours, lots of modernmachines, and meticulous quality control.
Let’s first look at how bills are made inthe U.S.
The special paper that bills are printed onis made of 75% cotton and 25% linen.
This is different from the paper you ordinarilyuse which is made from wood pulp.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury,any denomination of five bucks and above has
a security thread already built into thatpaper.
With the 100 dollar note it’s a bit different,as it has a 6mm wide 3-D security ribbon woven
into the paper.
For good reason these things should be hardto forge, but it’s happened, and we’ll
come to that.
The money then needs printing, and that happenson large sheets.
Each bill isn’t individually printed.
Using large metal plates the bill is engravedwith the design.
So in this case, you’d expect each billto cost about the same for manufacturing except
the 100 bill which is slightly different aswell as the one and two dollar bills which
don’t have the security thread built intothem.
This is what the U.S. treasury writes aboutthe inks used to make the bills.
“All bills, regardless of denomination,utilize green ink on the backs.
Faces, on the other hand, use black ink, color-shiftingink in the lower right hand corner for the
$10 denominations and higher, and metallicink for the freedom icons on redesigned $10,
$20, and $50 bills.
The $100 note’s ‘bell in the inkwell’freedom icon uses color-shifting ink.
These and the other inks appearing on U.S.currency are specially formulated and blended
by the BEP.
Inks headed for BEP presses also undergo continualquality testing.”
As you can see, making money is hard work.
Counterfeiters struggle to make money likethe experts do, but on occasion people have
done a pretty good job.
You might have heard of something called the“super dollar”, which the U.S. government
states is an almost perfect counterfeit 100dollar bill created possibly by another government.
What happens is detection technology getsbetter, but then the counterfeiters also get
better and create more of these super notes.
It’s a cat and mouse game, and that’swhy money printers have to be on top of their
Some of the counterfeiters get away with itfor a while, with one big case involving a
bunch of British criminals who were makingalmost perfect dollars and pounds until they
got caught in 2005.
These guys were literally printing cash tothe tune of one million pounds and $500,000
Now that’s how to get rich quick, and theseguys were experts in printing money.
They weren’t the first and they won’tbe the last, so let’s just say that money-making
technology costs countries a fair bit of money.
With that in mind, if you were to ask theTreasury Department just how much it costs
to make money they’d tell you it’s aboutmuch more than buying raw materials and fashioning
If you look at the 2019 currency operatingbudget you’ll find that it is $955.8 million.
We actually looked at the budget breakdownand found that $210.0 million went to the
Bureau of Engraving and Printing to coverfacilities’ costs and expansion at Fort
The other big printing place is in Washington,D.C.
Lots more cash goes towards research and developmentand automated counterfeit inspection.
Then you’ve got operating costs, which includesprinting the stuff and running the machines.
You’ve also got the board to pay and allthe staff to pay.
You’ve got security and transportation,and with cash you need to do that right.
That’s why part of the budget goes to armoredcarrier contracts.
But in the end, the main part of the budgetgoes towards printing.
How fast can they make money?
Well, it’s said the printing machines canprint around 8,000 sheets an hour.
Most of this process is automated, but humanswill do the quality control part.
The bills are not just looked at by humanseither, they are also put through scanners
which can detect the slightest fault.
If they make the grade the big sheets arestacked in piles of ten and then it’s time
to cut them to make individual bills.
These are then separated again and then madeinto bricks.
These bricks are given a barcode and thenthey are ready to be shipped all over the
You might be the guy whose job it is to movethe pallets around that contain the boxes
It must be quite the frustrating job if youare low paid and surrounded by tons of money
You can actually find reports of people stealingcash, sometimes a lot of cash, but then getting
One guy was arrested after it was found he’dbeen hiding money inside the bathroom walls.
At the time a special agent told the pressthat the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
is the worst place you can try to steal moneybecause people just never get away with it.
We went to the Bureau of Printing and Engravingwebsite and looked to see how much people
who worked at the facilities are paid.
There are so many jobs you can do we can’treally go into them all, but we looked at
various grades and steps for employees.
If you are grade one and step one you’llget paid $24,633 a year.
Grade 15 and step ten and you’ll get $166,500.
You could be pulling pallets around or youcould be sat on the board.
You could be designing the latest detectiontechnology or working as a secretary.
But this all goes towards the cost of makingcash.
Ok, so we had to tell you all of that to giveyou an idea of costs.
But there is also a printing cost for thatcash and thankfully the Federal Reserve has
published the 2019 cost.
Here it is:
To print one or two dollars it costs 5.5 centsa note.
To print five bucks it costs 11.4 cents.
10 bucks costs 11.1 cents and 20 bucks costs11.5 cents.
50 bucks costs 11.5 cents, too, and 100 buckscomes in at 14.2 cents.
As for coins, they are made at six locationsin the USA.
Unlike notes, coins are not as good valuefor money.
The price of making coins went up in 2018thanks to metal prices increasing.
In case you didn’t know, the quarter, nickeland dime coins are a copper-nickel combination.
Pennies are copper plated zinc.
According to the Mint, making one cent fromstart to finish and getting it out cost 2.06
cents in 2018.
So it cost more than it was actually worth.
In fact, one headline in 2019 read, “TheUS Mint lost $69 million making pennies last
Around $20 million was lost on making nickels,which cost 6.60 cents to make.
But the rest of the coins did make the Mintsome cash, because dimes cost 3.33 cents to
make and quarters cost 8.24 cents to make.
You could almost say that when you have aquarter you don’t just have the biggest
coin but you also have the most profitablecoin.
Your pennies are dead in the water.
You may as well throw them in the next fountainyou see.
Over in the UK they have those nice-lookingone pound and two pound coins and even the
commemorative five pound coin.
We tried to find how much it costs to makethese pretty things but found this message
on the Royal Mint’s website.
“The Royal Mint does not reveal exactlyhow much it costs to make specific coins as
such information could be used to its competitors’advantage.”
People have tried to work out how much itcosts to make a pound and have come up with
around 4 pence (about 5 cents), but we can’tsay that is what it costs for sure.
The same goes for making British currencybills.
We can’t find the exact cost as it’s notpublished.
We do know that when the new polymer noteswere introduced that change cost a lot of
money as it required new machinery and newtechnologies, but the Bank of England said
it would soon make that money back becausethose notes last a lot longer than the old
You might think that those new plastic notesare harder to counterfeit, but we found a
lot of reports suggesting that this mightnot actually be the case.
Australia for example used to have low forgeryrates after the polymer bills were introduced,
but reports in 2018 said forgers were backat it again.
It’s the same in the UK.
The new notes were supposed to be impossibleto counterfeit, but that hasn’t stopped
Reports tell us that indeed dodgy 5 and 10pound notes have been found in circulation,
but apparently anyone with a keen eye shouldbe able to spot them.
People have even been forging a polymer 20pound note and that isn’t even out yet.
As for counterfeiting coins, Euros have beenplagued by forging for some time while back
in 2014 in the UK it was revealed that justover three percent of pound coins in circulation
Because of that new pound coins had to beintroduced that were much harder to forge.
In fact, it’s said UK pound coins are someof the most counterfeited money in the world,
but then U.S. bills are also up there as someof the most forged currency in the world.
Other currencies plagued by counterfeits arethe Euro, the Chinese yuan and the Indian
So now you know how much money costs, shouldwe all switch to electronic currency?
Let us know in the comments!
Also, don’t forget to watch our other videoWhy Does Each US Air Force Pilot Helmet Cost
Thanks for watching, and as always, don’tforget to like, share and subscribe.
See you next time.
Prior to humans using coins as currency they’dbarter for things, such as tools used for