The dollar bill in use today was designed in 1957. This “paper money” is made from a blend of cotton and linen. Look closely and you’ll see that it also contains red and blue fibers made of silk as an anti-counterfeit measure.
The Seal of the United States Treasury is on the front. The top features scales representing justice and the center shows a chevron with 13 stars representing the 13 colonies. The key acts as a symbol of authority.
The Great Seal of the United States is shown with both the obverse and the reverse on the back of the dollar bill. The back of the seal sits on the left side and contains a Pyramid. The front of the pyramid is lit but the western side is dark, which some have suggested demonstrates that we had not yet begun to explore the West.
The Pyramid is uncapped, again possibly signifying that we were not yet finished with our task of exploring the continenant. Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress in 1782, told Congress that the pyramid represented “Strength and Duration.”
An eye sits inside the capstone, as an ancient symbol for divinity and long used by Masons. Franklin was a Mason, but Adams and Jefferson weren’t. Above that is the Latin phrase ANNUIT COEPTIS, which means, “God has favored our undertaking.” Below is the phrase NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM, which means “a new order for the ages.” At the base of the pyramid is the year 1776 in Roman numerals.
The obverse (front) of the Seal can be found at national cemeteries. It also serves as the basis for Seal of the President of the United States. Over Franklin’s objections (he wanted the turkey), the Bald Eagle was chosen as our nation’s symbol for victory. The eagle fears no storm, being strong and smart enough to soar above it, and he has no crown – important symbolism considering we had just won our war against King George.
The shield on the eagle’s chest represents Congress consisting of red and white stripes with a blue bar above. The colors are from the American flag; the red represents hardiness and valor, the white represents purity and innocence, and the blue, vigilance, perseverance, and justice. The eagle’s beak holds a ribbon proclaiming E PLURIBUS UNUM, meaning “one nation from many people.”
The Eagle’s talons holds an olive branch, long considered a peace offering, and arrows, an instrument of war. This illustrates our sentiment: we want peace but we are prepared to fight for it. Originally, the Eagle’s beak was turned towards the arrows, but President Truman ordered it turned toward the olive branch.
There were 13 original colonies in America. Thus thirteen stripes on our flag – and also 13 steps on the Pyramid, 13 letters in the Latin above it, 13 letters in “E Pluribus Unum,” 13 stars above the Eagle, 13 plumes of feathers on each span of the Eagle’s wing, 13 bars on its shield, 13 leaves on the olive branch, 13 fruits, and 13 arrows.