Why Is Money Green?

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Today US dollars are green but the majority of people don’t know why. When you look at other countries they tend to have different colors for different denominations making it easier for users to distinguish between different values and hand over the right amount. In the US all denominations are green and while they do have slightly different shades they have all always been green for a long time. Read on to find out why.

The famous green note of the US dollar comes from many years ago. In colonial times each colony would print their own notes, this money was usually tan color with black or red ink. After the American Revolution, the US government did not print new notes for a large period of time. They felt that people trusted coins more as during the revolution there was a large proportion of counterfeit notes circulating. 

In 1862 Congress passed the Legal Tender Act allowing the government to print money again. The government did so as they were desperate to pay for the Civil War. This was the first time green ink was used. Green ink was chosen as it was readily available at the time and because it made the notes more difficult to counterfeit. The notes were referred to by many as ‘greenbacks’ and so US currency became synonymous with the color green. In other countries, notes are distinguished by color. In Europe, for example, the 10 euro note is red, the 20 is blue and the 100 is green. In America, notes are more commonly distinguished by the president that features on one side and the size of the note itself. While there is a variance in color, they are all pretty green.

Today notes remain green because there is no real reason to change it. The US currency is one of the most famous notes in the world. It is well recognized and almost an American institution itself. Anti-counterfeiting techniques have improved considerably since 1862 so the color green is no longer required for this purpose but there is no reason to change it either.

Some people believe the color green represents greed and that the color of money is green to reflect the greed of people who pursue money without care for others. While this is a poetic explanation it doesn’t hold any truth. The American notes have been green for so long now that changing them would be a pity as they have become part of American history.