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The Treasure Department building in Washington, DC

How much do you know about money—not about what money can buy but about the history of money in the U.S.? Take this short quiz, and let’s see if you get stumped!

 1. The United States Secret Service was founded in 1865 as a branch of the U.S. Treasury Department. Its primary task was to stabilize America’s young financial system. By the end of the Civil War in 1865, what percentage of all currency in circulation was counterfeit?1

A. Less than 2%

B. About 10%

C. 20%

D. Nearly 33%

2. The $100 bill is attractive to overseas investors because of its status as a safe asset. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago estimates that what percentage of $100 bills are held overseas?2

A. About 80%

B. More than 60%

C. 40%

D. Nearly 20%

3. Why do dimes, quarters, and half-dollar coins, and some dollar coins have ridges, which are known as “reeded edges”?3

A. It makes it easier to stack the coins

B. Vending machines can recognize the coin more easily

C. It helps prevent clipping, which is the shaving off the edge of the coin

D. It identifies which of the U.S. Mint’s four production facilities created the coin

4. Throughout history, gold has been one of the most highly sought-after, revered, and cherished metals. Since 2010, roughly 3,000 metric tons, or 6.7 million pounds, of gold have been mined each year. What percentage of that gold is used in jewelry each year?4

A. Less than 10%

B. About 25%

C. 50%

D. More than 75%

5. With the rise of mobile banking and payment apps, electronic payment systems are becoming more and more common as people are relying less on physical money. What percentage of the world’s currency is literal cash?5

A. Less than 10%

B. About 25%

C. 50%

D. More than 75%

Bonus question:

6. In 1864, “In God We Trust” was first printed on the two-cent coin after Congress passed the Coinage Act. When did the phrase “In God We Trust” first appear on all American paper money?6,7

A. 1913, when the modern Federal Reserve was created

B. 1934, as part of the legislation that established the Securities and Exchange Commission

C. 1955, two years before “In God We Trust” was adopted as the national motto

D. 1971, when the U.S. abandoned the gold standard for international convertibility

Answer Key:

  1. D
  2. A
  3. C
  4. D
  5. A
  6. C
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