How to Make Prop Money

By Lane Cummings

Prop money is essential for plays and films where the characters hold and use money, particularly if the plot is focused around a large sum of money and because using real money is simply impractical. Prop money, when held close up, often appear glaringly fake because it is illegal to color-copy money. Thus, prop money is often black and white and slightly smaller or larger than standard bills. Federal laws prohibit copying bills of standard size.

Decide how much prop money you need to create. Put real bills face down on a black and white printer. Bear in mind that it is illegal to make a color photocopy of U.S. notes.

Change the ratio. In order to xerox money legally, it has to be either 150% larger than the standard bill size or 75% smaller. Decide if you want your prop money to be slightly larger or smaller and then print the bills.

Flip the bills over and copy the reverse sides, if necessary. This may not be necessary in a performance where the audience will see only one side of the money.

Cut out the bills using a paper cutter or very sharp scissors. Match each side of each bill together and hold them in place with a light adhesive glue.

Tip

If you don't have real money available to copy, you can go to the "Money Instructor" website (http://www.moneyinstructor.com/play.asp). There, you can download printable fake money, which is slightly smaller than real cash. This money will be fine for plays, but won't work for close-ups in film, as it has "moneyinstructor.com" printed in a small font on each bill.

About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."