10 DollarsAmerica, meet your currency! There’s more to what’s in your wallet than meets the eye. Here for your amazement (or amusement!) are ten surprising facts about the Ten Dollar Bill.

1. You probably already know one slang term for this bill: “sawbuck.” But why sawbuck? Well, a sawbuck, or sawhorse, is an easily transportable frame you saw wood on. If you look at a picture of one, you might see that the crossed legs of that frame resemble a letter “X”. And a ten dollar bills was at one time called an “X”, after the Roman numeral for ten. Ten… X… Sawbuck!

2. How long does one of these things last? According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, about eighteen months. That’s all! After that, the worn-out ten-spot gets retired and replaced.

3. Quick! What color is the strap on a bundle of ten dollar bills? Bzzzt! Time’s up. The Federal Reserve, when it delivers the goods to your neighborhood bank, hands ’em over tied up in bright yellow.

4. Did you know about the so-called “Jackass Note”? No, it’s not a noise made by a mule with a trumpet. It’s the 1869 incarnation of the ten dollar bill. On the front, near the center bottom, a tiny eagle appears. A symbol of freedom, doubtlessly meant to evoke our nation’s pride, the icon evoked much laughter instead when the bill was turned upside down and the eagle turned into the floppy-eared head of a donkey.

5. Another famous beastie from the sawbuck’s history was an American Bison by the name of Black Diamond. This resident of New York’s Central Park Zoo debuted upon the monetary stage in 1901, and he stayed there until 1907.

6. Black Diamond’s ten-spot is famous for another reason: it’s the only ten dollar bill that ever trumpeted its legality. A banner-shaped notice beneath the bison’s hooves states that “this note is a legal tender for ten dollars subject to the provisions of Section 3588 R.S.” Maybe this bill was feeling insecure.

7. If you’ve got one on you, take a look at the front (or “obverse”) of a ten dollar bill. Say hi to President Alexander Hamilton! His face began to appear on multiple pieces of currency, not just the ten-spot, during the Civil War. His portrait stood as a symbol of opposition toward the secessionists. No wonder the Confederacy began printing its own currency.

8. But Hamilton’s face hasn’t always graced this piece of currency. He’s a latecomer to this paper party. The first ten dollar bill, in 1861, featured Abraham Lincoln. It has since showcased the portraits of Daniel Webster, Benjamin Franklin, Lewis and Clark, Andrew Jackson, and many more.

9. And Hamilton might just get the boot! Since 2001 there have been attempts to replace Andrew’s portrait with that of Ronald Reagan, our 40th President. The latest efforts to enact this switch-a-roo came during the summer of 2004. It has also be suggested that he take over Roosevelt’s spot on the dime.  By Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.