Quick question about the American $1 bill

Specifically about the eye at the top of the pyramid at the reverse. I’ve been unable to find a decent picture of the eye online, so I’m bringing the question to the teeming millions:

Is it a left or a right eye on the top of the pyramid?

Believe it or not, this is actually relevant to an essay I’m writing for one of my grad classes. I think it’s the right eye, but I can’t be sure, and I don’t want to make a fool of myself by making an argument towards my thesis that turns out to be false.

Thanks in advance!

This site just mentions an eye. It doesn’t specify left or right. In my opinion, it’s a person’s right eye (i.e. the left eye from the observer’s point of view).

It’s a right eye … the Eye of Providence, derived from the Eye of Horus, which was a right eye.

Here is a close-up of the eye. It seems to me that it is a person’s right eye. I don’t know why, that’s just what it looks like. You can download a larger version of that image for (hehehe) a dollar.

Thanks, friedo for the close-up. It definitely seems like a right eye to me, which means I’ll be able to make this argument.

Now that you know, would you care to tell us what argument you are making?

(I’m personally curious, but lots of us are good at making arguments and doing research. Posting here could bolster your case.)

I appreciate it, but I’m one of those rare people who actually likes the challenge of crafting essay arguments. Besides, I’m pretty sure getting that kind of help (outside of a quick fact-check) would violate both the SDMB’s no-homework rule, and my university’s ethics rules.

But I’m not keeping secrets. The work in question is my final essay for my course on the graphic-novel-as-literature. The graphic novel is The Watchmen by Moore and Gibbons – it’s a revisionist superhero comic.

One of the most important motifs in the story is one of the most cryptic: dozens of times in the series we see happy faces, human faces – even bunny slippers and jack-o-lanterns – with the right eye covered. The few academic critics who’ve written about the series have tried to puzzle out a meaning, but no one’s come up with something convincing.

Another popular motif is pyramids, but that’s because there’s a character in story consiring, Freemason-like, for a “New Order” – and he happens to be obsessed with pyramids. And he has a God complex – he seems to consider himself virtually omnipotent and omniscient.

However, omniscient he is definitely not – there’s every indication that he’s missed some important factors. It seems this God’s eye at the top of the pyramid is blind (hence the covered right eyes).

I’d look silly making that argument if it turned out to be on the left.

Since you stated:
*Another popular motif is pyramids, but that’s because there’s a character in story consiring, Freemason-like, for a “New Order” – and he happens to be obsessed with pyramids.
That pyramid is Masonic in origin. And since you mentioned “New Order” the Latin words at the bottom - “Novus Ordo Seclorum” - mean “New Order of the Ages”.
And not that you asked:
Note that it has 13 levels (for 13 original colonies). It is “unfinished” indicating the USA is still growing. There are many other references to 13 on the dollar bill but I’ll stop here because this is probably more than you want to know.
AND I bet that since you are a “Doper”, you probably knew all these facts anyway.

Do we though? Look at the thickness of that brow. Brows are usually thicker in the middle, that looks like a left eye to me.

The curve of the eyelid is stronger on the right, indicating it is a right eye. Look in a mirror.

Okay, here is a very good photo (and anatomy chart) of the human left eye
which is convenient for comparison to the “dollar bill eye”.
If we do an eyebrow comparison, Parental Advisory’s conclusion of left eye status seems to be substantiated.
However, if we compare the medial commissure, (part of the eyelid near the nose), the “dollar bill eye” seems to display the characteristics of a right eye.
Comparison of the lateral canthus also indicates a “right eye” for the dollar bill but not as decisively as the medial commissure comparison.

So, I would say this debate will continue.

I disagree, the medial commissure of the dollar eye appears to be the same as the eye in your cite, which is a left eye.

I think you are mis-reading the image on the dollar. To me, the medial commisure clearly appears to be on the right side, making it a right eye.

The several official seals themselves have never actually had a reverse side cut. The design for the reverse was described in the original congressional act authorizing the creation of a seal, and does not identify the eye as either left or right. No reverse has ever been cut, in the several iterations of seals created during the many years before a final master die (from which future dies will be cut) was created. No reverse was created for that, either. One was suggested several times, and several drawings provided, but no physical die has ever been made.

The engraving for the dollar bill was created specifically for the dollar bill, and has become the standard image used as a model for the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States. The actual seal is smooth on the back. It is not definite to my inspection that it is either right or left, since the eyebrow is fairly symmetric, and the iris placement is likewise equal with respect to the lid, unlike actual human eyes. The image is very small, and the dollar bill version is the only one that has any sort of “official” approval as a finished image.

I say you can call it what you want, but your opinion is just that, an opinion. So is everyone else’s. The title “Eye of Providence” is often used, but the original description says only “an eye” giving a lot more importance to the glory surrounding it. It is obviously intended to be the eye of God, but nowhere stated to be based on the eye of Horus.

The actual Great Seal of the United States is in the exhibits room at the State Department, where it remains even while being used.


These are not key characters. The eyelid is not symmetric, and its form indicates a right eye.

To elaborate a little, while this is my opinion, it’s my considered opinion as a biologist and as someone who has taught human anatomy. Although the eye may not be specified as a left or right eye in the description of the Great Seal, what the artist has chosen to depict is, in my opinion, clearly a right eye.

Here is ascan of the eye that I just made. If that dark area in the right corner of the eye is supposed to represent that little lump of flesh in the corner near the nose then it is definitely a right eye.

Actually, my major point wasn’t that the dollar picture has a left eye, or even that it is not identifiable. The point I was making was that the actual Great Seal of the United States doesn’t even have an image on the reverse side. There never was one, and there is no great likelihood that there will ever be one. So, deliberate, investigate, speculate, or pontificate as you wish. It’s entirely imaginary in any case.


Looking at Davids scan, I would argue that it is a *depiction *of a left eye:

  • the hatching of the eyebrows suggests the hair falls to the right as you view it (ie to the left of the eye owner).

  • the medial commisure is on the left as you view it - therefore left eye

  • the lateral canthus is on the right as you view it - therefore left eye

  • the pupil is focussing slightly to the left as you view it. Unless the subject is wall-eyed, this suggests the subject is focussing on something nearby - therefore left eye

However I think it is actually the right eye of the artist. The artist was copying his right eye in the mirror.

The question is not what is depicted on the Great Seal, but what is depicted on the dollar bill, and that is certainly not imaginary.