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Wheel of Money

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

14th & C Streets, SW

Washington, DC 20228

Toll Free (877)874-4114

Written by Scott Messmore
They say that money makes the world go 'round, and if that's true, it starts turning at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington D.C. A tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is certain to have millions of dollars in plain sight as thousands of $1, $5, $20, $50 and $100 bills roll off the printing presses.
In 1999 alone, 11.4 billion notes were printed with a value of $267 billion. Visitors can buy $150 worth of shredded currency, engraved collector's prints or sheets of uncut currency. The sheets come with either four, 16 or 32 bills of $1, $2 or $5 notes.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tour

At the Bureau of Engraving and Printing tour, visitors will learn about all of the new security measures incorporated in the new federal notes. Visitors will also learn that "paper" money is in fact 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton which is why dollar bills hold up so well. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, it Stack of Onescosts the taxpayers 4.2 cents to produce a $1 or $5 note. The majority of notes printed, 46 percent, are $1 bills. At any one time, there could be as much as $200 million in federal notes being printed at the Washington D.C. or Fort Worth, Texas printing locations. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) prints all U.S. currency but also printed money from many foreign nations, White House invitations, naturalization documents, certificates for 75 other federal agencies and military identification cards.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing History

BEP got its start with only six employees at the start of the Civil War in 1862. The small printing staff toiled away in the basement of the Main Treasury Building. With war clouds looming on the horizon, Americans began hoarding coins for their intrinsic value which created a money shortage. Paper money was gaining more acceptance as a currency and the Federal government needed the influx
of cash to fight the rebellious states of the South. The BEP has printed paper notes as small as five cents during the Civil War and as large as $100,000 notes for use only by Federal Reserve Banks. Woodrow Wilson was the president on the face of the huge $100,000 notes. During the busy tourist season from April to September, BEP uses a ticketing system. BEP staff advise getting tickets early as they can run out as early as 10:30 a.m. Pictures and video are not allowed to be taken on the BEP tour.

Hours of Operation and Location

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is located at 14th and Stack of OnesC Streets, S.W. The building is only a block away from the Jefferson Memorial and also near the U.S. Holocaust Museum. Free tours of the money printing process are offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, April to September. Between the summer months of June and August, evening tours are offered from 4 to 6 p.m. Tours are also available in French, German, Japanese and Spanish. Tours take about a half hour and are self guided. BEP is closed on federal holidays and the week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The Visitor's Center is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing web site at

For more information or to arrange a tour of the BEP building, call 202-874-3188. Or call toll free at 800-456-3408.

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Last Updated: September 23, 2015