When one thinks of Ben Franklin, one thing that comes to mind is the fact that his face is on the United States $100 bill. Hence, the slang term for $100 bills is Benjamins (thanks to a track by Puff Daddy). But how did he end up there? What about the other faces on US and World currency? And what’s with all those colors?
The Art of Money: The History and Design of Paper Currency From Around the World is a beautiful book by David Standish. Those bank notes that pay your monthly bills are rich in history. The author discusses the history of money, and touches on money’s relation to Queen Liz, industry, agriculture, trains, and war. The book is easy to follow and is chock full of colorful images of various paper money, which is the focal point of the art side of money.
As for Benjamin Franklin… He created many things, but he did not create the first paper money. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1723, at the age of seventeen, the first year paper money was used there. As his career progressed, he ended up designing and printing paper money for various colonies over a long period of time. His face didn’t appear on the $100 bill until 1914. The first $100 bill had an image of a bald eagle, which was then followed by a version featuring Abraham Lincoln.
A new $100 bill was set to be released in April of this year, with slight changes to the bill, but problems with the printing have delayed the release.
To learn more about Ben Franklin and see what else is happening with Ben around AADL, including the BIG exhibit and special programming, see here.