Nickel (United States coin)
A nickel, in American usage, is a five-cent coin struck by the United States Mint. Composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel, the piece has been issued since 1866, its diameter is.835 inches and its thickness is.077 inches. Due to inflation, the purchasing power of the nickel continues to drop and the coin represents less than 1% of the federal hourly minimum wage. In 2015, over 1.5 billion nickels were produced at the Denver mints. The silver half dime, equal to five cents, had been issued since the 1790s; the American Civil War caused economic hardship, driving silver from circulation. In 1865, Congress abolished the five-cent fractional currency note after Spencer M. Clark, head of the Currency Bureau, placed his own portrait on the denomination. After the successful introduction of two-cent and three-cent pieces without precious metal, Congress authorized a five-cent piece consisting of base metal; the initial design of the Shield nickel was struck from 1866 until 1883 was replaced by the Liberty Head nickel.
The Buffalo nickel was introduced in 1913 as part of a drive to increase the beauty of American coinage. In 2004 and 2005, special designs in honor of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition were issued. In 2006, the Mint reverted to using Jefferson nickel designer Felix Schlag's original reverse, although a new obverse, by Jamie Franki, was substituted; as of the end of FY 2013, it cost more than nine cents to produce a nickel. The silver half disme was one of the denominations prescribed by the Mint Act of 1792; the first pieces under federal authority were half dimes, struck in 1792 in the cellar of John Harper, a saw maker. The dies were engraved by Adam Eckfeldt, who a half-century recalled that the silver for the half dimes was supplied by President George Washington, that the 1,500 coins struck from the bullion were given to Washington's Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, for distribution to important people, both in the US and overseas. By legend, President Washington supplied silverware from his home, Mount Vernon, to provide bullion for the coins.
In his annual message to Congress in late 1792, Washington noted the ongoing construction of a mint building and stated: "There has been a small beginning in the coinage of half dimes, the want of small coins in circulation calling the first attention to them."In 1793, the newly established Philadelphia Mint began striking cents and half cents. Coinage of precious metal was delayed. In 1794, Congress lowered the chief coiner's bond to $5,000, the assayer's to $1,000. Subsequently, silver coinage began that year; the half dime was struck from 1794 until 1805, though none were dated 1798, 1799, or 1804. By 1804, silver US coins were exported, as they could be exchanged at par in the West Indies with heavier Spanish coins, which were imported as bullion and deposited at the Mint for melting and restriking. In response, in 1804 the US stopped striking silver dollars. In 1807, mint Director Robert Patterson in a letter explained to Jefferson "nearly the whole of our Silver Bullion come through the Banks, it is seldom that they will consent to take any coin less than half dollars."Beginning in 1829, the silver five-cent piece was again struck.
In 1837, the half dime's obverse design changed from one by William Kneass, depicting a bust of Liberty, to one that featured a seated Liberty by Christian Gobrecht. In 1851, it ceased to be the smallest US silver coin; the Civil War caused most American coins to vanish from circulation, with the gap filled by such means as merchant tokens, encased postage stamps, United States fractional currency, issued in denominations as low as three cents. Although specie was hoarded or exported, the copper-nickel cent the only base metal denomination being struck vanished. In 1864, Congress began the process of restoring coins to circulation by abolishing the three-cent note and authorizing bronze cents and two-cent pieces, with low intrinsic values, to be struck; these new coins proved popular, though the two-cent piece soon faded from circulation. On March 3, 1865, Congress passed legislation authorizing the Mint to strike three-cent pieces of 75% copper and 25% nickel. In 1864, Congress authorized a third series of fractional currency notes.
The five-cent note was to bear a depiction of "Clark", but Congress was appalled when the issue came out not with a portrait of William Clark, the explorer, but Spencer M. Clark, head of the Currency Bureau. According to numismatic historian Walter Breen, Congress's "immediate infuriated response was to pass a law retiring the five-cent denomination, another to forbid portrayal of any living person on federal coins or currency." Clark kep
The Philadelphia Mint was created from the need to establish a national identity and the needs of commerce in the United States. This led the Founding Fathers of the United States to make an establishment of a continental national mint, a main priority after the ratification of the Constitution of the United States; the Coinage Act of 1792 was entered into law on April 2. It proclaimed the creation of the United States Mint. Philadelphia at that time was the nation's capital; the Mint Act instituted a decimal system based on a dollar unit. David Rittenhouse, an American scientist, was appointed the first director of the mint by President George Washington. Two lots were purchased by Rittenhouse on July 18, 1792, at Seventh Street and 631 Filbert Street in Philadelphia for $4,266.67. The next day, demolition of an abandoned whiskey distillery on the property began. Foundation work began on July 31, by September 7, the first building was ready for installation of the smelting furnace; the smelt house was the first public building.
A three-story brick structure facing Seventh Street was constructed a few months later. Measuring nearly 37 ft wide on the street, it only extended back 33 ft; the gold and silver for the mint were contained in basement vaults. The first floor housed deposit and weighing rooms, along with the press room, where striking coins took place. Mint official offices were on the second floor, the assay office was located on the third floor. A photograph of the Seventh Street building taken around 1908 show that by the year 1792 and the words "Ye Olde Mint" had been painted onto the facade. Between the smelt house and the building on Seventh Street, a mill house was built. Horses in the basement turned a rolling mill located on the first floor. In January 1816, the smelt and mill houses were destroyed by a fire; the smelt house was never repaired and all smelting was done elsewhere. The mill house, destroyed, was soon replaced with a large brick building, it included a new steam engine in the basement to power the machinery.
Until 1833, these three buildings provided the United States with hard currency. Operations moved to the second Philadelphia mint in 1833, the land housing the first mint was sold. In the late 19th or early 20th century, the property was sold to Frank Stewart, who approached the city, asking them to preserve or relocate the historic buildings. With no governmental help, the first mint was demolished between 1907 and 1911. Now, only a small plaque remains to memorialize the spot. On July 4, 1829, a cornerstone was laid for the building at the intersection of Chestnut and Juniper Streets, it was designed by William Strickland. The second Philadelphia Mint, the "Grecian Temple", was constructed of white marble with classic Greek-style columns on front and back. Measuring 150 ft wide in front by 204 ft deep, it was a huge improvement over the first facility, in space as well as image. Opening in January 1833, its production was constrained by the outdated machinery salvaged from the first mint. Franklin Peale was sent to Europe to study advanced coinmaking technologies which were brought back and implemented, increasing productivity and quality.
Sold in 1902, the second mint was demolished. The cornerstone buried in 1833 was unearthed and contained a candy jar with a petrified cork stoppering it. Inside the jar were three coins, a few newspapers, a scroll with information on the first mint and the creation of the second; the site has been occupied since 1914 by 1339 Chestnut Street. The third Philadelphia Mint was built at 1700 Spring Garden Street and opened in 1901, it was designed by William Martin Aiken, Architect for the Treasury, but it was constructed under James Knox Taylor. It was a block from the United States Smelting Company, at Broad and Spring Garden Streets. In one year alone, the mint produced 501,000,000 coins, as well as 90,000,000 coins for foreign countries. A massive structure nearly a full city block, it was an instant landmark, characterized by a Roman temple facade. Visitors enjoyed seven themed glass mosaics designed by Louis C. Tiffany in a gold-backed vaulted ceiling; the mosaics depicted ancient Roman coinmaking methods.
This mint still stands intact, much of the interior is intact, as well. It was acquired by the Community College of Philadelphia in 1973. A tribute page has been created. Two blocks from the site of the first mint, the fourth and current Philadelphia Mint opened its doors in 1969, it was designed by Philadelphia architect Vincent G. Kling, who would help design Five Penn Center, Centre Square, the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, it was the world's largest mint when it was built and held that distinction as of October 2017. The Philadelphia Mint can produce up to one million coins in 30 minutes, it took three years for the original mint to produce that many. The mint produces medals and awards for military and civil services. Engraving of all dies and strikers only occurs here. Uncirculated coins minted here have the "P" mint mark, while circulated coins from before 1980 carried no mint mark except the Jefferson nickels minted from 1942–1945 and the 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. Since 1980, all coins minted there have the "P" mint mark except cents until 2017.
Tours can be taken. This takes place via an enclosed catwalk above the minting facility itself. Various video stations are p
United States dollar
The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent units, but is divided into 1000 mills for accounting; the circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars. Since the suspension in 1971 of convertibility of paper U. S. currency into any precious metal, the U. S. dollar is, de facto, fiat money. As it is the most used in international transactions, the U. S. dollar is the world's primary reserve currency. Several countries use it as their official currency, in many others it is the de facto currency. Besides the United States, it is used as the sole currency in two British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean: the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands. A few countries use the Federal Reserve Notes for paper money, while still minting their own coins, or accept U. S. dollar coins. As of June 27, 2018, there are $1.67 trillion in circulation, of which $1.62 trillion is in Federal Reserve notes.
Article I, Section 8 of the U. S. Constitution provides that the Congress has the power "To coin money". Laws implementing this power are codified at 31 U. S. C. § 5112. Section 5112 prescribes the forms; these coins are both designated in Section 5112 as "legal tender" in payment of debts. The Sacagawea dollar is one example of the copper alloy dollar; the pure silver dollar is known as the American Silver Eagle. Section 5112 provides for the minting and issuance of other coins, which have values ranging from one cent to 100 dollars; these other coins are more described in Coins of the United States dollar. The Constitution provides that "a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time"; that provision of the Constitution is made specific by Section 331 of Title 31 of the United States Code. The sums of money reported in the "Statements" are being expressed in U. S. dollars. The U. S. dollar may therefore be described as the unit of account of the United States.
The word "dollar" is one of the words in the first paragraph of Section 9 of Article I of the Constitution. There, "dollars" is a reference to the Spanish milled dollar, a coin that had a monetary value of 8 Spanish units of currency, or reales. In 1792 the U. S. Congress passed a Coinage Act. Section 9 of that act authorized the production of various coins, including "DOLLARS OR UNITS—each to be of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current, to contain three hundred and seventy-one grains and four sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or four hundred and sixteen grains of standard silver". Section 20 of the act provided, "That the money of account of the United States shall be expressed in dollars, or units... and that all accounts in the public offices and all proceedings in the courts of the United States shall be kept and had in conformity to this regulation". In other words, this act designated the United States dollar as the unit of currency of the United States. Unlike the Spanish milled dollar, the U.
S. dollar is based upon a decimal system of values. In addition to the dollar the coinage act established monetary units of mill or one-thousandth of a dollar, cent or one-hundredth of a dollar, dime or one-tenth of a dollar, eagle or ten dollars, with prescribed weights and composition of gold, silver, or copper for each, it was proposed in the mid-1800s that one hundred dollars be known as a union, but no union coins were struck and only patterns for the $50 half union exist. However, only cents are in everyday use as divisions of the dollar. XX9 per gallon, e.g. $3.599, more written as $3.599⁄10. When issued in circulating form, denominations equal to or less than a dollar are emitted as U. S. coins while denominations equal to or greater than a dollar are emitted as Federal Reserve notes. Both one-dollar coins and notes are produced today, although the note form is more common. In the past, "paper money" was issued in denominations less than a dollar and gold coins were issued for circulation up to the value of $20.
The term eagle was used in the Coinage Act of 1792 for the denomination of ten dollars, subsequently was used in naming gold coins. Paper currency less than one dollar in denomination, known as "fractional currency", was sometimes pejoratively referred to as "shinplasters". In 1854, James Guthrie Secretary of the Treasury, proposed creating $100, $50 and $25 gold coins, which were referred to as a "Union", "Half Union", "Quarter Union", thus implying a denomination of 1 Union = $100. Today, USD notes are made from cotton fiber paper, unlike most common paper, made of wood fiber. U. S. coins are produced by the United States Mint. U. S. dollar banknotes are printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and, since 1914, have been issued by t
Counterfeit United States currency
Counterfeiting of the currency of the United States is attempted. According to the United States Department of Treasury, an estimated $70 million in counterfeit bills are in circulation, or 1 note in counterfeits for every 10,000 in genuine currency, with an upper bound of $200 million counterfeit, or 1 counterfeit per 4,000 genuine notes. However, these numbers are based on annual seizure rates on counterfeiting, the actual stock of counterfeit money is uncertain because some counterfeit notes circulate for a few transactions. Shortly after the Civil War, it was estimated that one third to one half of the nation's currency was counterfeit. Due to this fact, counterfeit money posed a major threat to the economy and financial system in America. In accordance, the Secret Service, founded in 1865, stated its primary task to be reducing counterfeit money in circulation; the current figure of American counterfeit bills is less than.01%. Several specific examples of groups counterfeiting United States currency have been noted.
During World War II Nazi Germany produced high-quality counterfeits of American dollar and Bank of England pound notes although few were circulated thoroughly. Superdollars high quality counterfeit one hundred-dollar bills, were some of the most distributed counterfeit American dollar bills and were still being produced after 2007; the Congressional Research Service has conducted a study and concluded with an accusation that North Korea was responsible for their production, but Pyongyang denied any involvement with Superdollar. In 2005, Peruvian Banks ceased to accept $100 bills from the 2001 series CB-B2, due to a detection in a series of counterfeit bills in Peruvian circulation; the Peruvian media reported that the notes were so well made that they were "perfect fakes". The differences between them and genuine bills were minuscule and difficult to detect. According to Peruvian news reports, a printing plate from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was stolen by a criminal, with possible links to al-Qaeda, the plate was used to produce the counterfeit bills.
Bills forged by Anatasios Arnaouti in the UK. In recent years, metal boxes of fraudulent Federal Reserve Notes in astronomically high denominations and with coupons attached have turned up in various eastern countries such as the Philippines or Malaysia. In many cases, the notes are claimed to be part of a lost trove of secretly issued Federal Reserve Notes, are special or not known to the public due to secrecy; the bonds are sometimes treated to make them look old by getting them wet and moldy. However, the Federal Reserve has never issued notes in such denominations, has issued warnings against them on its website. Additionally, there are several errors in the bonds as well as the metal boxes, many of them anachronistic; the Federal Reserve Bank of New York writes that The Federal Reserve is aware of several scams involving high denomination Federal Reserve notes and bonds in denominations of 100 million or 500 million dollars, dating back to the 1930s 1934. In each of these schemes, fraudulent instruments are claimed to be part of a long-lost supply of discovered Federal Reserve notes or bonds.
Fraudsters falsely claim that the purported Federal Reserve notes or bonds that they hold are somehow special and are not known to the public because they are so secret. Fraudsters have attempted to sell these worthless instruments, or to redeem or exchange them at banks and other financial institutions, or to secure loans or obtain lines of credit using the fictitious instruments as collateral. There have been several instances where people have used the fraudulent notes as legitimate currency resulting in arrest. In March 2006, agents from ICE and the Secret Service seized 250 notes, each bearing a denomination of $1,000,000,000 from a West Hollywood apartment; the suspect had been arrested on federal charges for attempting to smuggle more than $37,000 in currency into the U. S. following a trip to South Korea in 2002. Much of the artwork on the notes was duplicated from the real $1000 bill, including the portrait of Grover Cleveland. Another incident involving similar notes bearing a denomination each of $500,000,000, occurred in Chiasso, Switzerland in June 2009.
In the United States, counterfeiters in small operations develop the fake currency using tools which include. Upon collecting bills, the Federal Reserve checks all notes, destroying any whose appearance fails to fit that of a federal bill. Peter Alston, was the late 18th Century and early 19th Century counterfeiter and river pirate, believed to be Little Harpe's associate and partner in the murder of notorious outlaw leader Samuel Mason in 1803 Philip Alston, was an 18th-century counterfeiter both before and after the American Revolution in Virginia and the Carolinas before the war, in Kentucky and Illinois afterwards. Edward Bonney, an alleged counterfeiter in northern Indiana, who escaped to Nauvoo, was a bounty hunter and amateur detective, posed as a counterfeiter, to apprehend the murderers of Colonel George Davenport and infiltrate the Midwestern Banditti of the Prairie. Abel Buell, American colonialist and republican who went from altering five-pound note engraving plates to publishing the first map of the new United States created by an American.
Mary Butterworth, a counterfeiter in colonial America. Mike DeBardeleben, was sent to prison for counterfeiting the $20 bill John Duff, was a counterfeiter and soldier, who served in George Rogers Clark's campaign, to capture the Illinois country, for the Patriot American si
The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States of America. It was created on December 23, 1913, with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, after a series of financial panics led to the desire for central control of the monetary system in order to alleviate financial crises. Over the years, events such as the Great Depression in the 1930s and the Great Recession during the 2000s have led to the expansion of the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System; the U. S. Congress established three key objectives for monetary policy in the Federal Reserve Act: maximizing employment, stabilizing prices, moderating long-term interest rates; the first two objectives are sometimes referred to as the Federal Reserve's dual mandate. Its duties have expanded over the years, also include supervising and regulating banks, maintaining the stability of the financial system, providing financial services to depository institutions, the U. S. government, foreign official institutions.
The Fed conducts research into the economy and provides numerous publications, such as the Beige Book and the FRED database. The Federal Reserve System is composed of several layers, it is governed by the presidentially appointed board of Federal Reserve Board. Twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, located in cities throughout the nation and oversee owned commercial banks. Nationally chartered commercial banks are required to hold stock in, can elect some of the board members of, the Federal Reserve Bank of their region; the Federal Open Market Committee sets monetary policy. It consists of all seven members of the board of governors and the twelve regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents, though only five bank presidents vote at a time. There are various advisory councils. Thus, the Federal Reserve System has both private components, it has a structure unique among central banks, is unusual in that the United States Department of the Treasury, an entity outside of the central bank, prints the currency used.
The federal government sets the salaries of the board's seven governors. The federal government receives all the system's annual profits, after a statutory dividend of 6% on member banks' capital investment is paid, an account surplus is maintained. In 2015, the Federal Reserve earned net income of $100.2 billion and transferred $97.7 billion to the U. S. Treasury. Although an instrument of the US Government, the Federal Reserve System considers itself "an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by the Congress, the terms of the members of the board of governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms." The primary motivation for creating the Federal Reserve System was to address banking panics. Other purposes are stated in the Federal Reserve Act, such as "to furnish an elastic currency, to afford means of rediscounting commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the United States, for other purposes".
Before the founding of the Federal Reserve System, the United States underwent several financial crises. A severe crisis in 1907 led Congress to enact the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. Today the Federal Reserve System has responsibilities in addition to ensuring the stability of the financial system. Current functions of the Federal Reserve System include: To address the problem of banking panics To serve as the central bank for the United States To strike a balance between private interests of banks and the centralized responsibility of government To supervise and regulate banking institutions To protect the credit rights of consumers To manage the nation's money supply through monetary policy to achieve the sometimes-conflicting goals of maximum employment stable prices, including prevention of either inflation or deflation moderate long-term interest rates To maintain the stability of the financial system and contain systemic risk in financial markets To provide financial services to depository institutions, the U.
S. government, foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation's payments system To facilitate the exchange of payments among regions To respond to local liquidity needs To strengthen U. S. standing in the world economy Banking institutions in the United States are required to hold reserves—amounts of currency and deposits in other banks—equal to only a fraction of the amount of the bank's deposit liabilities owed to customers. This practice is called fractional-reserve banking; as a result, banks invest the majority of the funds received from depositors. On rare occasions, too many of the bank's customers will withdraw their savings and the bank will need help from another institution to continue operating. Bank runs can lead to a multitude of economic problems; the Federal Reserve System was designed as an attempt to prevent or minimize the occurrence of bank runs, act as a lender of last resort when a bank run does occur. Many economists, following Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, believe that the Federal Reserve inappropriately refused to lend money to small banks during the bank runs of 1929.
Because some banks refused to clear checks from certain other banks during times of economic uncertainty, a check-clearing system was created in the Federal Reserve System. It is described in
Counterfeit money is imitation currency produced without the legal sanction of the state or government in a deliberate attempt to imitate that currency and so as to deceive its recipient. Producing or using counterfeit money is a form of fraud or forgery; the business of counterfeiting money is as old as money itself: plated copies have been found of Lydian coins which are thought to be among the first Western coins. Before the introduction of paper money, the most prevalent method of counterfeiting involved mixing base metals with pure gold or silver. Another form of counterfeiting is the production of documents by legitimate printers in response to fraudulent instructions. During World War II, the Nazis forged American dollars. Today some of the finest counterfeit banknotes are called Superdollars because of their high quality and likeness to the real US dollar. There has been significant counterfeiting of Euro banknotes and coins since the launch of the currency in 2002, but less than for the US dollar.
Some of the ill-effects that counterfeit money has on society include a reduction in the value of real money. Traditionally, anti-counterfeiting measures involved including fine detail with raised intaglio printing on bills which allows non-experts to spot forgeries. On coins, milled or reeded edges are used to show that none of the valuable metal has been scraped off. Counterfeiting is as old as money itself, is sufficiently prevalent throughout history that it has been called "the world's second oldest profession". Coinage of money began in the Greek city of Lydia around 600 B. C. Before the introduction of paper money, the most prevalent method of counterfeiting involved mixing base metals with pure gold or silver. A common practice was to "shave" the edges of a coin; this is known as "clipping". Precious metals collected in this way could be used to produce counterfeit coinage. A fourrée is an ancient type of counterfeit coin, in which a base metal core has been plated with a precious metal to resemble its solid metal counterpart.
When paper money was introduced in China in the 13th century, wood from mulberry trees was used to make the money. To control access to the paper, guards were stationed around mulberry forests, while counterfeiters were punished by death. In the 13th century Mastro Adamo was mentioned by Dante Alighieri as a counterfeiter of the Florentine fiorino, punished with death by hanging; the English couple Thomas and Anne Rogers were convicted on 15 October 1690 for "Clipping 40 pieces of Silver". Thomas Rogers was hanged and quartered while Anne Rogers was burnt alive. Evidence supplied by an informant led to the arrest of the last of the English Coiners "King" David Hartley, executed by hanging in 1770; the extreme forms of punishment were meted out for acts of treason against state or Crown, rather than simple crime. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Irish immigrants to London were associated with the spending of counterfeit money, while locals were more to participate in the safer and more profitable forms of currency crime, which could take place behind locked doors.
These include selling it wholesale. In America, Colonial paper currency printed by Benjamin Franklin and others bore the phrase "to counterfeit is death"; the theory behind such harsh punishments was that one who had the skills to counterfeit currency was considered a threat to the safety of the State, had to be eliminated. Another explanation is the fact that issuing money that people could trust was both an economic imperative, as well as a Royal prerogative. Far more fortunate was an earlier practitioner of the same art, active in the time of the Emperor Justinian. Rather than executing Alexander the Barber, the Emperor chose to employ his talents in the government's own service. Nations have used counterfeiting as a means of warfare; the idea is to overflow the enemy's economy with fake bank notes, so that the real value of the money plummets. Great Britain did this during the American Revolutionary War to reduce the value of the Continental Dollar; the counterfeiters for the British were known as "shovers" for the ability to "shove" the fake currency into circulation.
Two of the most well-known shovers for the British during the Revolutionary War were David Farnsworth and John Blair. They were caught with 10,000 dollars in counterfeits. George Washington took a personal interest in their case and called for them to be tortured to discover further information, they were hanged for their crimes. During the American Civil War, the Confederate States dollar was counterfeited by private interests on the Union side without the sanction of the Union government in Washington; the Confederacy's access to modern printing technology was limited while many Northern-made imitations were printed on high quality banknote paper procured through extralegal means. As a result, counterfeit Southern notes were equal or superior in quality compared to genuine Confederate money. In 1834, counterfeit copper coins manufactured in the United States were seized from several ships with American flags in Brazil; the practice seemed to end after that. A form of counterfeiting is the pro
Alfred E. Neuman
Alfred E. Neuman is the fictitious mascot and cover boy of the American humor magazine Mad; the character's face had drifted through U. S. iconography for decades before being claimed by Mad editor Harvey Kurtzman in 1954 and named by the magazine's second editor Al Feldstein in 1956. Since his debut in Mad, Neuman's likeness has appeared on the cover of all but a handful of the magazine's 550+ issues, is only seen in profile, he is distinguished by his short, tousled red hair, an invariable grin with a missing front tooth, freckles across the bridge of his nose, jug ears, his left eye and ear set lower than their right-hand counterparts. Harvey Kurtzman first spotted the image on a postcard pinned to the office bulletin board of Ballantine Books editor Bernard Shir-Cliff. "It was a face that didn't have a care in the world, except mischief", recalled Kurtzman. Shir-Cliff was a contributor to various magazines created by Kurtzman. In November 1954, Neuman made his Mad debut on the front cover of Ballantine's The Mad Reader, a paperback collection of reprints from the first two years of Mad.
The character's first appearance in the comic book was on the cover of Mad #21, in a tiny image as part of a mock advertisement. A rubber mask bearing his likeness with "idiot" written underneath was offered for $1.29. Mad switched to a magazine format starting with issue #24, Neuman's face appeared in the top, central position of the illustrated border used on the covers, with his now-familiar signature phrase "What, me worry?" Written underneath. The phrase was rendered "What? Me worry?" These borders were used for five more issues, through Mad #30. The character was shown on page 7 of Mad #24 as "Melvin Coznowski" and on page 63 as "Melvin Sturdley". In issues he appeared as "Melvin Cowsnofsky" or "Mel Haney". In Mad # 25, the face and name were shown together on separate pages as both Mel Haney; the crowded cover shot on Mad #27 marked Neuman's first color appearance. When Al Feldstein took over as Mad's editor in 1956, he seized upon the face: I decided that I wanted to have this visual logo as the image of Mad, the same way that corporations had the Jolly Green Giant and the dog barking at the gramophone for RCA.
This kid was the perfect example of. So I put an ad in The New York Times that said, "National magazine wants portrait artist for special project". In walked this little old guy in his sixties named Norman Mingo, he said, "What national magazine is this?" I said "Mad," and he said, "Goodbye." I told him to wait, I dragged out all these examples and postcards of this idiot kid, I said, "I want a definitive portrait of this kid. I don't want him to look like an idiot—I want him to be loveable and have an intelligence behind his eyes, but I want him to have this devil-may-care attitude, someone who can maintain a sense of humor while the world is collapsing around him." I adapted and used that portrait, and, the beginning. Mingo's defining portrait was used on the cover of Mad #30 in late 1956 as a supposed write-in candidate for the Presidency, fixed his identity and appearance into the version, used since. In November 2008, Mingo's original cover art featuring this first official portrait of Neuman sold at auction for $203,150.
Mingo painted seven more Neuman covers through 1957, returned to become the magazine's signature cover artist throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Mingo produced 97 Mad covers in total, illustrated dozens of additional cover images for Mad's many reprint Specials and its line of paperbacks. During Mingo's absence, Frank Kelly Freas rendered Neuman for Mad from 1958 to 1962. Mingo's total surpassed Freas' in 1965, his leading status endured until 2016, when current contributor Mark Fredrickson became the most prolific Mad cover artist with his 98th cover. Neuman has appeared in one form or another on the cover of nearly every issue of Mad and its spinoffs since that issue and continuing to the present day, with a small handful of exceptions. Two such departures were Mad #233 which replaced Neuman's image with that of Pac-Man, Mad #195 which instead featured the message "Pssst! Keep This Issue Out of the Hands of Your Parents!". When Neuman is not part of the cover gag, or when the cover is text-based, his disembodied head appears in miniature form.
The most notorious Neuman-free cover was #166, which featured a human hand giving the profane "middle finger" gesture while declaring Mad to be "The Number One Ecch Magazine". Some newsstands that carried Mad chose not to display or sell this issue. Conversely, the two covers that featured Neuman the most times were #502, #400. #502 featured a human hand giving the "thumbs down" signal, while wearing a silver-spangled glove in the style of singer Michael Jackson. Each individual spangle, more than 300 in all, was a tiny Alfred E. Neuman face; the cover of issue #400 was a photomosaic of Neuman's face, composed of more than 2,700 images of previous Mad covers. Neuman's ubiquity as a grinning cover boy grew as the magazine's circulation quadrupled, but the single highest-selling issue of Mad depicted only his feet; the cover image of issue #161, spoofing the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure, showed Neuman floating upside-down inside a life preserver. The original art for this cover was purchased at auction in 1992 for $2,200 by Annie Gaines, the widow of Mad founder and publisher William Gaines, an