Hand-run printing presses like these in 1909 produced 45 sheets an hour, while today's automated machines churn out 10,000 in the same amount of time. "This was considered the toughest job at the time," said Franklin Noll, a historical consultant at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. "You had to work as fast as you could all the time on a rate where you only got paid for the good sheets." (Library of Congress)
by Miki Meek
Aug 22, 2012
Every day, tens of millions of crisp, green bills roll off fast, automated presses at the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving.
A hundred years ago, the process looked very, very different. Back then, it took the bureau a year to make as many bills as it can now make in two days.
These beautiful, old photographs from the Library of Congress were taken near the turn of the 20th century. They show a time when making currency was a slow, hands-on process.
Hear a Planet Money story about a company that has made the paper used for U.S. currency since 1879.
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