The dollar bill is one of the most ubiquitous objects in the United States. We see it and use it every day without much thought. But if you take a closer look at the dollar, you’ll notice something that may seem out of place: a small blue eagle stamp with the letters USA and 13 on either side.

This mysterious marking has likely caught your eye before, leaving you wondering what its purpose is. In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the fascinating history behind the blue stamp and its significance.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The blue eagle stamp indicates that a dollar bill was printed at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing location in Fort Worth, Texas.

The History of Paper Currency Printing in the U.S.

The Early Days of Paper Money

The use of paper money in the United States dates back to the late 17th century when the colonial government issued paper notes to fund military expeditions. These early forms of paper currency were often in the form of IOUs and were redeemable for precious metals, such as gold or silver, held by the issuing authority.

As the economy grew and trade expanded, the need for a standardized currency became apparent. This led to the establishment of the First Bank of the United States in 1791, which was granted the authority to issue paper money. These banknotes were backed by the bank’s reserves of gold and silver.

However, the use of paper money was not without controversy. Many people were skeptical of the value of paper currency and preferred to conduct transactions using coins or barter. Counterfeiting was also a major issue, as counterfeiters would attempt to replicate the intricate designs and security features of genuine banknotes.

The Birth of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing

In an effort to combat counterfeiting and ensure the integrity of the nation’s currency, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) was established in 1862. The BEP was tasked with designing and printing all U.S. paper currency, as well as producing other government documents, such as passports and postage stamps.

The BEP implemented various security measures to protect against counterfeiting, including the use of intricate designs, special inks, and advanced printing techniques. Over the years, the bureau has continuously evolved its printing processes and incorporated new technologies to stay ahead of counterfeiters.

Today, the BEP is responsible for producing billions of dollars’ worth of currency each year, ensuring the safety and integrity of the U.S. monetary system.

Expansion of U.S. Currency Printing

As the United States continued to grow and the demand for currency increased, the BEP expanded its operations to meet the needs of the nation. Additional printing facilities were established, including a facility in Fort Worth, Texas, which opened in 1991.

The introduction of new denominations and designs also necessitated increased printing capacity. In recent years, the BEP has introduced new security features, such as color-shifting ink and 3D security ribbons, to further enhance the counterfeit resistance of U.S. banknotes.

Furthermore, the BEP has embraced technological advancements in the printing industry, such as the use of digital printing technology, which allows for more precise and efficient production of currency.

As the U.S. currency continues to evolve, the BEP remains at the forefront of currency printing, ensuring the integrity and security of the dollar bill.

Introducing the Blue Eagle Stamp

The Blue Eagle stamp is a fascinating and mysterious symbol that can be found on the back of the one-dollar bill. It is often overlooked by many people, but its presence holds significant historical and symbolic meaning. Let’s dive deeper into the purpose of the Blue Eagle and when it first appeared.

Purpose of the Blue Eagle

The Blue Eagle stamp was introduced as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Its purpose was to promote fair labor practices and stimulate economic recovery.

The NIRA aimed to regulate industry and establish codes of conduct to protect workers’ rights and prevent unfair competition.

The Blue Eagle served as a symbol of compliance with these codes and represented businesses that voluntarily pledged to follow the regulations set forth by the NIRA. By displaying the Blue Eagle stamp, companies demonstrated their commitment to fair wages, reasonable working hours, and safe working conditions.

Not only did the Blue Eagle symbolize a commitment to fair labor practices, but it also represented a collective effort to rebuild the nation’s economy and restore confidence during a time of great uncertainty. It became a powerful emblem of hope and unity for many Americans.

When the Blue Eagle First Appeared

The Blue Eagle first appeared on the dollar bill in 1933, shortly after the NIRA was enacted. Its placement on the back of the bill was a strategic decision to ensure that it would be visible and recognized by the public.

The stamp featured a bold blue eagle with its wings spread wide, clutching a gear and a lightning bolt, symbolizing strength, industry, and progress. Surrounding the eagle were the words “National Recovery Administration,” the government agency responsible for implementing and enforcing the NIRA.

The Blue Eagle stamp remained on the dollar bill until 1935 when the Supreme Court declared the NIRA unconstitutional. The court’s decision led to the dissolution of the National Recovery Administration, and the Blue Eagle stamp was no longer required to be displayed by businesses.

Today, the Blue Eagle stamp serves as a reminder of a critical period in American history when the nation came together to overcome economic challenges. It symbolizes the resilience and determination of the American people during trying times.

To learn more about the history of the Blue Eagle stamp and its significance, you can visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website for additional information.

The Significance of the Letters USA and 13

USA Indicates Country of Origin

Have you ever noticed the letters “USA” on the dollar bill? Well, those letters hold great significance. “USA” stands for the United States of America and is included on the dollar bill to indicate the country of origin.

It is a way to identify that the currency is issued by the United States government and is legal tender within the country. This is an important feature to prevent counterfeit currency from being circulated.

The inclusion of “USA” on the dollar bill also serves as a symbol of national pride and unity. It reminds us that the dollar bill represents the economic strength and stability of the United States, as well as the values and ideals that the nation upholds.

13 Refers to One of 12 Federal Reserve Districts

Another intriguing element on the dollar bill is the number 13. You might wonder why this number is significant. Well, the number 13 refers to one of the 12 Federal Reserve Districts in the United States.

These districts are responsible for overseeing the monetary policy and financial stability of the nation.

Each Federal Reserve District has a designated number, ranging from 1 to 12, and the number 13 on the dollar bill represents the Federal Reserve District that includes the state in which the bill was printed.

For example, if you find a dollar bill with the number 13, it indicates that it was printed in the Federal Reserve District that covers the state in which you found it.

This inclusion of the number 13 on the dollar bill is a subtle way to acknowledge the importance of the Federal Reserve System in the country’s financial system. It reminds us of the interconnectedness and cooperation between the government and the Federal Reserve in maintaining a stable economy.

So, the next time you come across a dollar bill, take a moment to appreciate the significance of the letters “USA” and the number 13. They not only represent the country of origin and the Federal Reserve District, but they also serve as a reminder of the economic strength and unity of the United States.

Other Security Features of U.S. Currency

Color-Shifting Ink

One of the lesser-known security features of U.S. currency is the use of color-shifting ink. This ink is used on certain parts of the banknotes, such as the numeral indicating the denomination or the Treasury seal. When you tilt the bill back and forth, the color of the ink changes.

For example, on a $100 bill, the numeral “100” on the bottom right corner will shift from copper to green. This feature makes it difficult for counterfeiters to replicate the intricate details of the ink, helping to protect the integrity of the currency.


Another security feature found on U.S. currency is the use of watermarks. Watermarks are subtle images or designs that are embedded into the paper itself during the manufacturing process. When you hold a bill up to the light, you can see a faint image of the person featured on the bill along with the denomination.

This serves as an additional layer of protection against counterfeiting, as it is difficult to reproduce the watermark accurately. Watermarks have been a part of U.S. banknotes since the 1990s, and they continue to be an effective security measure.

Security Threads

U.S. banknotes also feature security threads, which are thin strips embedded within the paper. These threads are visible when you hold the bill up to the light, appearing as a vertical line that runs through the bill.

The thread is usually made of plastic or metal and is woven into the paper, making it nearly impossible to counterfeit. In addition to being visible, some security threads also have special features, such as microprinting or holographic designs, that further enhance their security.

The presence of a security thread is a telltale sign of an authentic U.S. banknote.

These are just a few examples of the various security features that can be found on U.S. currency. The combination of these features, along with others not mentioned here, makes it extremely difficult for counterfeiters to produce convincing replicas.

So the next time you have a dollar bill in your hands, take a moment to appreciate the intricate details that go into ensuring the integrity of our currency.

Fun Facts About U.S. Currency Printing

U.S. currency printing is a fascinating process that involves cutting-edge technology and careful attention to detail. Here are some fun facts about how the dollar bills we use every day are printed.

High-Speed Printing Presses

Did you know that U.S. currency is printed using high-speed printing presses? These state-of-the-art machines can print over 8,000 sheets of currency per hour! That’s an astonishing speed that allows the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to keep up with the demand for new bills.

These presses use a combination of intaglio printing and offset printing techniques to create the intricate designs and security features found on U.S. currency. The intaglio printing process involves engraving the design onto a metal plate, which is then inked and pressed onto the paper.

This gives the bills a raised texture that can be felt when you run your fingers over them.

Recycled Currency

Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. government does not print new bills to replace old ones. Instead, they recycle currency by removing worn-out bills from circulation and replacing them with new ones.

This process helps to extend the lifespan of the currency and reduce the environmental impact of printing new bills.

Once the worn-out bills are removed from circulation, they are shredded and turned into compost or used as fuel. The remaining scraps of currency are recycled into new paper products, such as cardboard or tissue paper.

So, the next time you recycle a cardboard box or blow your nose with a tissue, you might be using recycled U.S. currency!

Destruction of Defective Bills

Not every bill that comes off the printing press is perfect. In fact, a small percentage of bills are deemed defective and need to be destroyed. These defective bills can have misprints, smudges, or other imperfections that make them unusable.

The destruction process for defective bills is closely monitored to ensure that they cannot be used fraudulently. These bills are typically shredded and then incinerated, making it nearly impossible for anyone to reconstruct them or use them for illicit purposes.

So, the next time you come across a dollar bill with a blue stamp on it, remember that it’s just one of the many fascinating aspects of U.S. currency printing. From high-speed presses to recycled currency and the destruction of defective bills, there’s a lot more to the money in your wallet than meets the eye!


The next time you have a dollar bill in hand, take a moment to look for that little blue eagle stamp. Although seemingly insignificant, it has an important purpose and storied history. The blue stamp and other security features are integral to ensuring the integrity and longevity of U.S. currency.

So go ahead, examine your bills closely—you never know what hidden treasures you might uncover!

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