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Weird Coin from Zambia.

From the website:

The silver Proof 5000 Kwacha coin issued by Zambia to commemorate the 2000 Sydney Olympics is one of the strangest shaped coins ever issued. The unusual coin was made in the shape of the conjoined maps of Australia and Zambia Though Australia is approximately ten times the size of Zambia, the two are shown to be roughly the same area on the coin. The countries are joined together, with northern Zambia being attached to Northern Australia, even though the countries are halfway around the world from each other! A shaded area on both the obverse and reverse represents a gap between the two maps. The obverse of the 2000 dated coin features Queen Elizabeth, the Zambian coat-of-arms and the famous Sydney Opera house. The reverse shows a field of six runners completing a track event. The large size coin is approximately 49mm x 42mm and contains approximately one troy ounce of silver. It is certainly one of the strangest looking coins around.

Plenty more weird coins here: Link

November 9, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Four-Dollar Bill.

Yes, that’s right: a 4-dollar bill issued in 1882 (Dominion of Canada): Link - Thanks Dougall!

November 8, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Money Origami.

From the website:

This helpful book guides you through simple origami steps to create 15 different shapes from a squid to a Jedi to an Oriental dragon and more.

I really want to see the Jedi! Link - Thanks Tonya!

November 7, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)


Shinplaster was the common name of pricate, fractional currency circulating widely in the frontier economies of the 19th century. The name "shinplaster" came from the quality of the paper, which was so cheap that with a bit of starch it could be used to make plaster to go under socks and warm shins!

Link - Thanks Dougall!

November 6, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Owen Lorion’s Money Talk Comic.

For more Money Talks comic strip by Owen Lorion, see: Link - Thanks Owen!

November 1, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Ancient Forgery.

Forgery is as old as money itself: Forum Ancient Coins has a nice collection of ancient forgeries.

This one above is forgery of an Antoniniaus coin:

"However if his too is just the core of a plated ancient forgery, then it is not the early mint product that I was postulating, but just the work of an ancient forger that could easily be joining an obv. and a rev. derived from two different coins. Checking my cast of Gunner’s coin against Heather’s image, the two coins do appear to be from the same dies. Apart from stealing mint dies, counterfeiters sometimes manufactured transfer dies from official coins, which also allowed them to produce counterfeits in mint style. " - Curtis Clay

See more ancient forgeries: Link - Thanks Al!

October 30, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Kazakhstan Misspelled “Bank” on Money.

10,000 Tenge 2003 from

Oops, the Kazakhstan central bank misspelled the word "bank" on its new money, but it’s going ahead with it anyhow:

The Kazakhstan central bank has misspelled the word “bank” on its new notes, officials said Wednesday.

The bank plans to put the misprinted notes — worth 2,000 tenge ($15) and 5,000-tenge — into circulation in November and then gradually withdraw them to correct the spelling.

The move has drawn the ire of the Central Asian state’s politicians who urged the bank to abandon the notes altogether.

Link - Thanks Charles Perry!

October 19, 2006    Permalink   Comment (3)

Billionaire Dropouts.

Is school necessary for success? These self-made billionaires listed below seem to suggest that talent, attitude, hard work, and lots of luck seem to be the vital ingredients of success - not college (or even high school) degrees.

Here are some very, very rich people (all billionaires, actually) who dropped out of school:

Bill Gates.

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is the richest man in the world. His current net worth is approximately $50 billion (at one point, before the Internet bubble burst, he was worth over $100 billion, making him the world’s first centibillionaire!)

Bill Gates is probably also the world’s most famous college drop-out. Gates dropped out of Harvard to work on his start-up company, then called Micro-Soft in 1975, when he was just 19 years old. Under his shrewd (though other people may call it predatory and unlawful) business practices, Gates grew Microsoft into a behemoth (and depending on your point of view, hated) corporation.

Gates left day-to-day operations at Microsoft to devote more time into philantrophic endeavor, namely the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is currently the second largest charitable foundation in the world.

Sheldon Adelson.

Sheldon Adelson made his fortunes in Las Vegas doing casino and real estate development. He is the 14th richest man in the world, and is worth about $20.5 billion.

Adelson grew up poor in Boston (his father drove a taxi and his mother ran a knitting store) and began working selling newspaper at street corners. By the time he was 16, Adelson owned his first business - and he didn’t stop there: Adelson had since created and grew over 50 different companies!

The one thing this serial entrepreneur didn’t do was graduate from college: Adelson dropped out of City College of New York.

Larry Ellison.

Larry Ellison proved that you can overcome a rocky childhood (he was born to a 19-year-old unwed mother who gave him up for adoption to a distant relative when he was just 9 months old) to become successful.

Actually, make that very successful: Ellison founded the database giant Oracle with just $2,000 in 1977 at 33 years old.

After a rocky start and various crises (including a battle with another database company Informix, which ended with their CEO Phil White being thrown in jail), Oracle became the second largest software company in the world.

Ellison, who dropped out his sophomore year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then dropped out again after just one quarter at the University of Chicago, is now worth about $19.5 billion.

Li Ka-Shing.

Hong Kong self-made billionaire Li Ka-Shing, worth $18.8 billion or so, is Asia’s richest man. He is also the richest Chinese in the world, and according to Forbes, the 10th richest man in the world.

When he was just 12 years old, Li and his family fled to Hong Kong when Japan invaded China. When he was 15, Li’s father died and he was forced to drop out of high school to support his family.

Li got his start as a salesman selling watches at his uncle’s store, and soon proved to be a diligent worker: he worked 16 hour days, visited customers during the day and worked at the factory at night. Determined to better himself, Li even found a tutor to teach him English every night!

When he was 21, Li opened a plastic manufacturing company and grew his business by selling high quality plastic flowers at bargain prices. When Li was 30, he accidentally got into real estate because he couldn’t renew the lease for his factory and was forced to purchase and develop a site himself.

From there, Li diversified into electronics, telecommunications, retails, ports, and even power and electricity. Li is also noted for his philantrophy: he gave millions to various universities and disaster-relief.

All in all, not bad for a high school drop-out.

Roman Abramovich.

Roman Abramovich is the richest Russian, and the 11th richest man in the world, with an estimated fortune of $18.2 billion.

Abramovich’s business got started in the late 1980s when then Soviet President Michael Gorbachev’s reform allowed the openings of small private businesses. His road to riches opened up when he acquired assets cheaply during Boris Yeltsin’s privatization of state companies in the mid 1990s.

Abramovich is not afraid of spending money: he’s actually more well known in the United Kingdom as being the owner of the football (soccer) club Chelsea, as well as numerous luxury yachts dubbed "the Abramovich’s Navy."

We can argue about technicality here: Abramovich studied briefly at the Moscow State Auto Transport Institute before dropping out to go into business. Unlike his colleagues in this list, however, he did earn a correspondence degree from Moscow State Law Academy.

Paul Allen.

Paul Allen made his fortune with Microsoft - he founded the company along with Bill Gates.

When he was a teenager in high school, Allen used to sneak into the University of Washington’s computer labs (again, with Bill Gates). They were actually caught, but made a deal with the lab administrators to provide free computer help to students.

Paul Allen attended Washington State University, and dropped out in his sophomore years to work as a programmer for Honeywell in Boston. At the time, Bill Gates was at Harvard - well, that is until Allen convinced him to drop out of school to create Microsoft.

Allen’s current net worth is $16 billion and that’s a lot of dough to make up for the absence of a college diploma.

Michael Dell.

At the age of 15, Michael Dell took a brand new Apple II computer apart and rebuilt it just to see if he could - this turned out to foreshadow how Dell made his billions: by building PCs.

After high school (with a lackluster record, "he’ll never go anywhere in life," said one of his teachers), Dell attended the University of Texas at Austin. In his dorm, he started to custom-build and sell computers.

Dell’s computer business actually was so successful that at the age of 19 he dropped out of college to run the business full-time.

For not having a college degree, Dell did okay - his current net worth of $15.5 billion made him the 9th richest man in the United States.

Amancio Ortega.

Amancio Ortega was a son of a railway worker turned fashion-mogul and Spain’s richest man. He is worth $14.8 billion.

Ortega started out at the age of 14 as a gofer in a shirt store. At the age of 27, he started his own company to make bathrobes. Twelve years later, he opened his first store called Zara, which would become an enormously popular chain.

Ortega kept a very low profile (so much so that when he did make a public appearance in 2000, it made headlines in Spanish press!) but we’re guessing it’s not because this billionaire dropped out of high school.

Carl Icahn.

Is it really fair to call Carl Icahn who has a degree from Princeton University a dropout? Well, he *did* drop out of New York University School of Medicine, just before graduation because he "didn’t like working with corpses."

But not being a doctor probably turned out for the better for Icahn, who is now a billionaire financier (actually a multi-billionaire, Cahn is worth $8.7 billion).

Carl "Corporate Raider" Icahn is famous for takovers of companies (TWA, Texaco, USX) and for being the thorn in corporate management’s side (Time Warner).

Kirk Kerkorian.

Self-made billionaire Kirk Kerkorian was an amateur boxer ("Rifle Right Kerkorian") and a pilot. At the age of 30, he got his start by buying a small air-charter service flying gamblers from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in 1947.

Seeing opportunities in Las Vegas, Kerkorian bought land and got into the lucrative real estate / casino development. Since the 1960s, Kerkorian had bought (and sold) hot properties like the Caesars Palace, the Las Vegas Hilton, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and others.

Kerkorian’s current fortune is estimated to be around $8.7 billion - not bad for someone who was a highschool dropout.

Donald Newhouse.

You may not know who Donald Newhouse is, but you’ve probably read his magazine: Newhouse (along with his brother Sam) built his family business into a publishing and television giant: newspapers, Condé Nast (Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Glamour), The Learning Channel,, and so on.

Don Newhouse dropped out of Syracuse University, although we suspect that his magazine readings and overall wealth ($7.5 billion) made up for it.

François Pinault.

François who? You may not recognize the name, but you’ll definitely know his products: through his retail and luxury goods holding company PPR, François Pinault owns (or has owned) Gucci, YSL, Converse sneakers, Samsonite luggage, the Vail ski resort in Colorado, and the auction house Christie’s.

But don’t tell the luxury goods buyers that Pinault is a high school dropout - just tell them he’s worth $7 billion.

Stanley Ho.

Stanley Ho is called the King of Gambling for a good reason: he controlled the casino business in Macau for over 35 years because of a government-granted monopoly.

Like many of his colleagues in this list, Ho’s early childhood was tough. Although his family was wealthy at one point, his father lost a lot of money in a stock market crash and went bankrupt. His father abandoned him and his elder brothers committed suicide, leaving Ho and his mother impoverished.

This really made Ho one tough guy: once, he was in charge of a trade at sea when the ship was attacked by pirates, who then shot dead his partners. Ho was holding the money (the equivalent of several million dollars today), so naturally, the pirates rushed him. Undeterred, Ho got hold of a gun, shot a few people, gained control of the ship, and beat back the pirates!

Although Ho was a poor student, he is now the wealthiest man in Macau with $6.5 billion to his name. In fact, his company accounts for one-third of Macau’s GDP! Not bad at all for someone who dropped out of college.

Jack Taylor

If you have rented a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, you’ve rented a car from a college dropout.

Jack Taylor sold Cadillacs (yes, he was a car salesman) before he started the auto-leasing business in 1957 when he was 34 years old (trivia: he named it after the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier he served on).

Unlike other rental car outfits, Jack focused on the local market, i.e. specializing in renting cars to customers who need a replacement car when their own cars are in the shop.

Taylor is worth $6 billion. Oh, almost forgot, he dropped out of Washington University to join the Navy.

YC Wang.

Can you technically label someone a dropout if he never started high school to begin with? Dunno, but this is too remarkable not to mention.

Wait, there’s a billionaire here that never even set foot in high school?

Yes. That’s YC Wang, a self-made Taiwanese billionaire who made his fortune in plastics and chemicals. The octagenarian is now the head of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics, one of the largest plastic manufacturers in the world.

Wang was born to a tea farmer and was forced to enter the work force with only an elementary school education.

He did well for himself, though - Wang is now worth $5.4 billion.

David Geffen.

David Geffen, of Geffen Records, and Dreamworks SKG fame, went to the University of Texas at Austin but soon dropped out.

Geffen got started working at the mailroom at a talent agency, and went on to create Asylum Records in 1971 at the tender age of 28. He went on to create Geffen Records in 1980.

David Geffen is worth $4.4 billion, which would do nicely to soothe his deflated ego when he was forced by the city of Malibu in 2005 to allow access to the public beach in front of his home.

Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs is synonymous with Apple, the computer company that he founded, lost, and then regained.

The history (or drama, if you want to call it that) of Steve Jobs as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur is too long to list in details. (Okay, let’s list two: he built "blue boxes" or hacking devices that allowed people to get illegal free long distance phone calls which he then used to prank call the Pope and he once backpacked around India in search of philosophical enlightenment and came back with a bald head, and wearing traditional Indian clothing).

Suffice it to say, this hacker turned billionaire did well for himself, despite having dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon after only one semester. Steve Jobs’ wealth is valued at $4.4 billion.

David Murdock.

David Murdock had a tough childhood - he dropped out of high school in ninth-grade and pumped gas until he was drafted into the Army.

Since then, however, life had worked out for him: Murdock did a leveraged buyout of Castle & Cooke, which then bought Dole Food Company and assumed its name.

So, next time you eat a Dole pinapple, remember that the guy that owns it was a high school drop out (and by buying the product, you’re making him that much richer than the $4 billion he’s currently worth).

Henry Fok.

It really wasn’t Henry Fok’s fault that he dropped out of high school - Japan invaded his country of Hong Kong.

Fok got his break by smuggling firearms into China during the Korean War. He later helped finance Stanley Ho (another dropout!) to get the monopoly of Macau’s gambling license. Politically very connected, Fok was rumored to be the behind-the-scenes king maker in Hong Kong politics.

Fok’s worth $3.7 billion, not at all shabby for a high school dropout.

Ralph Lauren.

Before he was a famous fashion designer, Ralph Lauren grew up in the Bronx and worked after school to earn money to buy stylish suits (he was trendy, even at a young age!)

Actually, his story goes back earlier than that: Ralph was actually born as a son to a Jewish house painter. His birth name was Ralph Lifschitz. At 16, Ralph and his brothers changed their last names to Lauren - although some say that he was denying his Jewish heritage, Ralph considered it necessary for success.

Ralph Lauren went to the City College of New York studying business, but dropped out after two years. After a stint in the Army, he worked for Brooks Brothers as a salesman and created the label Polo, then a necktie business.

Ralph never attended fashion school, which didn’t hurt him any. He’s now worth $3.6 billion and that’s a lot of neckties.

Richard Branson.

Virgin’s Richard Branson is worth $2.8 billion and that’s not too shabby for a guy who didn’t even finish high school.

Branson suffered from dyslexia and dropped out of high school at 16 years of age. What he lacked in schooling, however, he made up in curiosity and entrepreneur zeal - when he was 15, he had started two business ventures: growing Christmas trees and raising parrots!

When he was 17, Branson opened his first charity and started his first record business. Along with Nik Powell, Branson opened a small record store in London called "Virgin." It specialized in "krautrock [wiki]" imports.

Virgin became a veritable giant (branching out into things like airways, telecommunication and so forth) and Branson was knighted in 1999 for "services to entrepreneurship."

So, next time you want to call him a high school dropout, remember that it’s "Sir" high school dropout to you.

Before you drop out of college (or God forbid, high school), consider that these people are the exceptions to the rule - for every one who made it, there are probably millions of other dropouts whose life turned out for the worse because they dropped out of school.

Still, it’s fun to read about those billionaire dropouts, right? Oh, by the way, if you’re wondering, their combined wealth as of 2006 is $246 billion.

Source: Forbes 400 Richest Americans | The World’s Billionaires at | List of Billionaires [wiki]

October 9, 2006    Permalink   Comment (28)

Real Money Used to Advertise Glue!

From the website:

Alteco 110 is a relatively unknown brand of quick-drying adhesive in the market, with low consumer confidence. To promote it, we decided to conduct a live demonstration of its bonding strength.

An actual one-dollar coin was stuck on the waiting benches at various bus stops. The one-dollar coin was chosen because it was easy to be picked up, and represented a high enough value for people to attempt picking it up. Next to the coin were two stickers: one a life-size sticker of the product, the other a notice that said "Yours if you can pick it up."

The simple challenge proved irresistible to almost every single person that came to sit next to the coin. Some even tried to use implements to remove the coin.

The coin was eventually detached from the bench using a special adhesive remover from the same brand.

Those ad people are very creative! Corrected Link

October 7, 2006    Permalink   Comment (2)

Psst.. Want to Design Coins for the US Mint?

The United States Mint is inviting up designers and students to design coins and medals.

Hurry, the deadline is October 16, 2006: Link

Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI on the New York Stock Exchange, pretty much DJIA everywhere else) was created by Wall Street Journal editor and Dow Jones & Company founder Charles Dow. He did it to gauge the performance of the industrial components of the stock market. It is the oldest continuing market index in the US.

When it was first published in May 26, 1896, the DJIA was computed at 40.94. On October 5, 2006, it stood at an all time high of 11,866.69.

It’s easy to see that the overall trend is increasing, but if you noticed between the periods of 1960 to mid 1980s, the value is pretty much constant. If you were unlucky enough to invest on December 11, 1914, you’d see your money lose 24.39% the very next day. The second largest decrease was on "Black Monday" in 1987, when the DJIA lost 22.6%.

Nevertheless, if you had invested $1 in 1896, you’d have $290 now.

Link [wiki] - via growabrain

October 6, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Abraham Lincoln in Pennies.

Clay Bavor used 1,702 pennies of varying shades to make a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Sorting the pennies took about 7 hours, and composing the image took just under 6 hours.

Hit play or go to Link [Google Video] - via bitperbit

October 4, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Anthony White’s Money Series Artwork.

Australian stockbroker turned artist Anthony White paints about money:

The US Series started at $US1 and continues up in $US 1 increments.

When I sell one of the painting for the $US amount on the canvas I then work on selling the next painting in the series (last painting + 1). I only sell them in numeric order. However you can reserve a number in advance.

So far, Anthony said that his paintings are a sure bet:

Some people have made good profits from buying my artwork. Nobody who has bought my artwork has ever lost money when it comes to reselling my work. Not too many artists can say that.

Link - via Art News Blog - Thanks Dion!

September 29, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Liquid Money Cologne: Smell Like Money. Literally!

The sweet smell of success - now you can smell like money. Literally! Here’s a cologne that will make you smelling like a fistfull of crisp dollar bills: Link - via American Inventor Spot.

September 28, 2006    Permalink   Comment (2)

Yen: We’ve Been Pronouncing It Wrong All These Years!

Loyal Neatorama (and now apparently, Pennylicious) reader Dougall Meloney sent us to wikipedia’s page on the Japanese Yen. He wrote:

This is an absolutely enormous entry about the history (why exchange rates are what they are now, and how they were manipulated by both the US and Japanese Governments) Type (all the denominations of coinage and bills) problems (counterfieting of certain denominations) and pictures of coins and bills. More than you ever wanted to know about the Japanese Yen (even a pronounciation guide and an essay on the origin of the word!)

I didn’t know that we’ve been pronouncing "yen" incorrectly all these years!

In standard Japanese, the yen is actually pronounced "en", but the spelling "yen" is standard in English, due to historical Portuguese transliteration.

En literally means "round object" in Japanese, as yuan does in Chinese, referring to the ancient Chinese coins that were circular in shape and widely used in Japan up to the Tokugawa Period.

Link: Japanese Yen [wiki]

September 27, 2006    Permalink   Comment (2)

Billy Mavreas’ Psychedelic Money Art.

Billy sent us a link to a blog post about his metabuck:

These infinite currency notes (named ‘metabucks’ by the unstoppbale Nicki Strum) have been around the world. I drew the ‘face’ side in Kalamata in 1991. The other side was drawn in Montreal 6 years later. The edition posted is from the 2nd printing. 1997. ed. of around 500. A few days ago a very polite gentleman received two from me and plans to share them with colleagues in the neumismatic archival scene.

Link - Thanks Billy!

September 26, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Stephen Barnwell’s Money Art.

In addition to paintings, artist and illustrator Steve Barnwell also made several money art, including Antarctica dream dollars, dream token (a solid brass coin), "Empire of America" dollars, "United States of Islam" dollars, and the colorful "Jefferson Currency Alliance".

Check it all out at his website: Link - Thanks Jay!

Related: JSG Boggs Art Money

September 25, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Justine Smith’s Money Art.

Titled: "Absolute Power"

Titled: "Washington"

Justine Smith uses money as medium for her artwork - check out more at her website: Link - via Neatorama

September 23, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Johnny Bitter’s Ugly Money Collection.

Johnny Bitter, the owner of the "Johnny Burrito" restaurant in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, collects "creatively marked" bills that ran across his lunch counter - over the years, he had collected hundreds of drawn, cut up, burnt, stamped, written on dollar bills - some quite exquisite like these ones above!

An oldie but goodie: Link

September 22, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Antarctican Dollar.

Psst, wanna buy an Antarctican dollar? Yes - it’s the unofficial currency of the continent of Antarctica!

Bank of Antarctica (no, not a real bank) | Antarctican dollar [wiki] | Banknotes Gallery

September 21, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Canadian Tire Money.

In the 1950s, competition amongst oil companies was fierce: they were giving away dishes and toasters to their customers trying to win loyalties.

The Canadian Tire company tried something else: they give customers Canadian Tire Money - basically a coupon - redeemable at any of their stores. It became the most successful loyalty program in Canadian retail history!

Link | Canadian Tire Money [wiki] | A nice gallery at Numismondo

September 20, 2006    Permalink   Comment (4)

Radar Notes.

What’s so special about this silver dollar note? Look closely at the serial number: it reads the same forwards and backwards, hence the name "radar". And yes, they’re collectible.


September 19, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Inverted Jenny.

The Inverted Jenny (or Jenny Invert) is a 1918 US postage stamp in which the image of the Curtiss JN4 airplane was accidentally printed upside down!

Only 100 pieces of the Inverted Jenny stamps were ever found, making them very rare and very collectible. IN 2003, an Inverted Jenny would sell for around $150,000!

Inverted Jenny [wiki]

September 18, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Operation Bernhardt.

During World War II, Nazi Germany used prisoners in the Sachenhausen concentration camp to produce very high quality forgeries of the Bank of England’s £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes. These were considered the most perfect counterfeits ever produced during the war, and was almost impossible to distinguish from the real currency.

The idea was to drop the forged banknotes over England from airplanes and thus wreck the British economy - however, the Germans used these notes to pay their spies abroad instead!

In fact, after the war, a German spy Elyesa Bazna, unsuccessfully tried to sue the German government for outstanding pay!

Operation Bernhard [wiki] | Operation Bernhardt £5 Note

September 17, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

$1,000 Bank of United States Note, Serial Number 8894.

You’re looking at the replica of $1,000 banknotes that are so well known that they’re usually referred to by their serial number "8894."

This is one of the most widely reproduced replicas of U.S. notes. These items were most probably issued by the phonograph record company Longines Symphonette Society in Larchmont, N.Y., in 1967.

The LSS replica is of a $1,000 Bank of the United States note originally issued in the mid-1800s. The design on the face or front of the note features an impressive looking building in the center with three portraits at either end of the note.

The record firm apparently had these replicas produced as part of a promotion. The replicas were included in sales brochures that went far and wide. The replica notes were printed on imitation parchment and were treated to give them a "yellowed with age" appearance. The key is they all have the same serial number, 8894.

These replicas don’t have any monetary value but they make interesting conversation starters.


September 16, 2006    Permalink   Comment (2)

C.K. Wilde’s Money Art.

From the website:

Christopher (or C.K.) Wilde is a collagist who creates with currency. Wilde painstakingly cuts various shapes out of paper money from around the world to form collages with economic and political undertones and overlays. The relationship between art and commerce is another theme that cannot be avoided when an artist cuts and pastes with money. Wilde bases a lot of his works on found images that he develops into his own compositions, which he will lay down on museum board before skillfully applying his umpteen bits of currency so that they abut in order to keep to the ideal of an even surface. The resulting puzzle is then sealed with wax. A tidy alternative to keeping it under the mattress.

Link | Gallery - via Neatorama

September 15, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Bag of (Shredded) Cash.

If you say "bag of cash," you better specify that you want the money whole - not shredded like Old Cash’s bag of shredded money!


September 14, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Star Notes.

Ever wonder what that star next to the serial number found in some of your dollar bill? Here’s the answer:

When an imperfect note is detected during the manufacturing process after the serial number has been overprinted, it must be replaced with a new note. A "star" note is used to replace the imperfect note. Reusing that exact serial number to replace the imperfect note is costly and time consuming. The "star" note has its own special serial number followed by a star in place of a suffix letter.

The serial number of the imperfect note that was removed is not used again in the same numbering sequence.

Link - Thanks James Pelchar!

September 13, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Sales Tax Token.

From the website:

Sales tax tokens were made in great quantities starting in 1935 in order to give change for sales taxes. Sales tax resulted in the final price of items having fractions of a cent. For example, purchase of a $1.25 item, taxed at 3%, would cost $1.2875, or $1.28 and 3/4c. What to do? Rounding up to $1.29 would result in a "unfair" profit to the seller of 1/4c, but rounding down would be unfair to the seller by reducing the profit by 3/4c. The solution was to provide tokens denominated in fractions of a cent, or "mills" (1 mill = 1/1000 of a dollar, or 1/10 of a cent). So in the above example, the customer would pay $1.29 and receive 2.5 mills in tax tokens as change. If the next purchase came to $3.4325, the customer could pay $3.43 plus the 2.5 mills in tax tokens. As you can imagine, people did not like having to carry a second set of coins, and to further complicate matters, different states issued different tax tokens. The use of tax tokens declined and was finally discontinued in 1961, and people basically decided not to worry about fractions of a cent.

Link | A huge collection of images at - ThanksTom Van Vleck!

Japanese Invasion Money.

During World War II, Japan occupied many countries in Asia, including Burma (Myanmar), Philippines, Malaya (West Malaysia), Oceania, and the Netherland Indies (now Indonesia). There, the Japanese Government printed their own currency, now called "Japanese Invasion Money" or JIM.

The propaganda was that Japan was protecting these countries from Western influence, under the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. In reality, the Japanese occupation was marked with brutal oppression of the people in these countries.

See: Tom Chao’s Paper Money Gallery - Japanese Invasion Money | Joel Anderson’s Coins and Notes from World War II

Pabillon: Money Butterfly Art.

Artist "DCOR" in Lausanne, Switzerland made some awesome butterfly arts, called "Pabillon" from cuttings and collages from money!


September 12, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Credit Card Companies are Chartered in States with No Usury Laws.

This map shows the top 10 credit card issuers and their state of charter. Notice anything? No surprise here: they are all located in states with weak or no "usury laws," meaning there is no cap on interest rate that is charged!

These clusters were largely formed by a 1978 Supreme Court decision (Marquette National Bank v. First of Omaha Service Corp.) that determined national banks only have to obey the interest-rate caps of the state they are chartered in, not that of the state where a bank’s customer lives. This means that when a bank from a state without limits on interest, like Delaware, issues credit cards to people living in states like Minnesota, which caps credit card interest at 18 percent, the customer can be charged any rate of interest.

Link (from the PBS Frontline’s neat story on The Secret History of the Credit Card)

September 11, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Concentration Camp Money.

During World War II, Germany created special currency (more like scrip, really) specifically for concentration camps. These were often created by the Jewish prisoners and many were quite intricate. Concentration Camp Money are collectible because of their historical reasons and as a reminder of the Holocaust.

From the website:

The concentration camp money(scrip) shown above was used by inmates and had no convertibility outside the camp. This had the effect of denying escapees from having any money to spend if they escaped.

The Concentration Camp Money above was issued in the Westerbork [wiki] Concentration Camp (where Anne Frank [wiki] and her family were taken.)


September 10, 2006    Permalink   Comment (2)


No, that’s not a typo - it’s not money, it’s noney! From the website:

… instead of metal, tobacco or rum, Noney’s standard is the aesthetic value of the note itself. It’s an economic system backed by art - art that also serves as the system’s currency.

While Noney notes have the same basic dimension, look and feel of government-issued money, they don’t resemble any other currency. Noney is a new design. Ten different faces show people of Rhode Island with their favorite bird and favorite vegetable. These people entered a contest to appear on Noney. They represent a variety of lives and professions. Among them are a painter, a community advocate, a librarian, a photographer, a waiter and musicians.

The illustrations on Noney are hand-drawn, then hand-screenprinted onto archival, acid-free sheets of polyethylene fiber, a material that’s lighter and tougher than paper. After printing, each note is editioned by hand in red ink with a number indicating its print order. Each note is then signed in black ink. Noney’s total print run is 10,000 notes: 1,000 of each face.

Each Noney note has the same denomination: zero. This doesn’t mean each note has no value… just relative value. There’s no fixed exchange rate or location of operation. Noney’s worth as both art and currency is something to negotiate through each individual transaction - anywhere.


September 9, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Confederate Bond.

During the Civil War, the Confederate States of America needed to raise cash to finance the war. In addition to raising taxes and printing money, the Confederate States also borrowed money by issuing war bonds.

Obviously, they lost and the bonds are worth money only as collectibles!

Lots of pictures of Civil War Bonds (1861 - 1865): Link

September 8, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Test Notes.

Test notes (also called test bills) are pieces of papers used to test money-handling machines like ATM or counters. These test notes have similar characteristics of money (same shape, size, thickness, printing characteristics, etc).

This one above is the Scrooge McDuck test note printed by Ascom, a company that makes ATMs (amongst other things).

And of course, people collect them - in fact, one of the best places to find test notes are in the trash cans of conventions where currency handling device manufacturers show their products!


September 7, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Woman Found 2,000 Year Old Coin at the Supermarket!

Lynn Moore was looking through her change from her local Bi-Lo supermarket in Sumter, South Carolina, when she noticed that one of the coin looked odd:

“It’s definitely not a penny," said Lynn. It wasn’t until she emptied her change that she noticed.

“I threw it in a vase right next to my kitchen table," said Lynn. She continued, "I dumped it out into my hand and noticed that one coin was very odd looking."

For 10 months, she kept it to herself. Then, Ken Lyles saw it. Ken has collected and studied coins for 50 years, and says this one is definitely not American.

“My research on it would tell me that it (was made in) approximately 132 to 135 A.D."

Mr. Lyles says the shape, uneven edges, and weight of the coin means it definitely pre-dates modern mints. According to his reference books, the coin is from ancient Hebrew society.

Link - Thanks Spluch!

September 6, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)


Gunmoney (sometimes "Gun Money") was coinage issued by James II in 1689 and 1690, struct from metal obtained from obsolete field cannons (hence the name).

The story was basically this: when Charles II died with no legitimate heir to his throne, his brother James II was crowned king. When William, the Prince of Orange in the Netherlands, took over the English throne, James fled to France, gathered an army, and returned to Ireland in order to retake his throne.

Short on funds, James minted his own coins - using melted metals from cannons (and actually from other metals like cooking pots and pans) - to be redeemable in sterling, if and when he regained his throne (which he never did, because he was defeated by William in the Battle of Boyne River).

Link | Gunmoney [wiki]

Largest Denomination US Banknote: the $10,000 Bill.

Yes - that’s a real $10,000 banknote - the largest denomination Federal Reserve Notes ever printed. They were printed up to 1945 and were issued until 1969. They are still legal tender today, however, these notes are mostly in the hands of private collectors.

Who’s the guy on the banknote? It’s Salmon P. Chase - who was the US Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln, and later became the 6th Chief Justice of Supreme Court . He was also one of three people featured on the dollar bill who weren’t a president (the other two were Hamilton for $10 bill and Ben Franklin for $100 bill).

Interestingly, Chase’s portrait also appeared on the first $1 bill issued in 1862, when the Civil War brought on a monetary crisis. Later, as Chief Justice, Chase declared his own banknote to be unconstitutional!

Why was the $10,000 note recalled? President Nixon issued an executive order to stop the circulation of high-denomination bills in 1969 in order to combat organized crime.

Link (Don’t miss the $100,000 Gold Certificate, which cannot be legally held by regular people) | Large denominations of US currency [wiki]

September 5, 2006    Permalink   Comment (12)

People to People Direct Lending.

Prosper, a San Francisco company, is using the Internet to match those who want to borrow and those who want to lend money - it’s basically P2P lending!

Link - Thanks Chris Heenan!

September 4, 2006    Permalink   Comment (4)

Bob Marley Coin.

The Bank of Jamaica has issued 1,000 gold and silver Bob Marley commemorative coins!

Link - via Arbroath

August 30, 2006    Permalink   Comment (2)

Got Change for $200 Bill?

This happened in 2004: a customer ordered $2 worth of food at a Dairy Queen in Kentucky and paid with a $200 bill (complete with picture of the White House lawn with signs saying "We like broccoli") and got $198 change!


August 26, 2006    Permalink   Comment (1)

Superdollar: the (Almost) Perfect Fake.

Superdollar: North Korea’s Almost Perfect Counterfeit. The superdollar is the name given to an almost perfect counterfeit of the US banknote, believed to be produced by North Korea in the late 1980s.

The superdollar notes were so good that even experts were fooled for years:

One defector who spoke to Panorama on the condition of anonymity said he had spent his life making counterfeit US dollars, adding that they were such good quality that they fooled experts.

He said: "The counterfeiting was all done at government level. We had a special plant for doing it.

"When I defected I brought some of these counterfeit notes to South Korea, and I showed them to the experts in the South Korean intelligence agency. They said - these are not fake notes. They’re real."

Link | Superdollar [wiki]

August 25, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Portugese Banknote Crisis: Largest Counterfeiting Ever.

The Portuguese Banknote Crisis was the world’s largest case of counterfeiting.

The complex plot was conceived by Alves dos Reis, a Portuguese criminal while he was jailed for illicit arms dealing and embezzlement during World War I. After his release from prison, Reis presented himself as an agent of the Bank of Portugal (which was essentially a private company at the time) with a mandate to negotiate a loan for the ailing Portuguese colony of Angola in Africa.

Reis and collaborators presented this loan as a secret project of the Bank of Portugal and conned the currency printer Waterlow and Sons Ltd. of London to print Portuguese banknotes, specific for Angola, to the tune of 300 million escudos or £3 million (at 1925 exchange rate).

Reis proceeded to launder the money, created his own banks, invested in stocks and currency markets - and even buying stocks in the Bank of Portugal to gain control of that bank so he could thwart investigations into his scheme!

In 1925, the whole scheme came to a screeching halt when a bank teller found bank notes with duplicated serial numbers. All in all, Reis had managed to launder money equivalent to nearly 1% of Portugal’s annual GDP at the time!

The scandal became public knowledge and sparked political and economic instability in Portugal - the following year, the government was toppled in a military coup.

And Alves dos Reis? He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, served his time, and died penniless afterwards.

Link: The Effects of the 1925 Portugese Bank Note Crisis [pdf], an article by Henry Wigan | Alves dos Reis [wiki]

August 23, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Emanuel Ninger: Counterfeiter Caught by Wet Bar Table!

Emanuel "Jim the Penman" Ninger. Emanuel Ninger is a counterfeiter, who drew by hand, various denominations of US banknotes in the late 1880s.

He worked for weeks at a time on each note, and this was profitable because at the time one of those notes was extremely valuable (about $2000 or $4000 in today’s dollars). He gained a following, as the invariably wealthy people that ended up with these banknotes tended to realise their worth as works of art.

He was apprehended by the United State Secret Service in 1896, after a banknote ended up in a small puddle at a bar. A none-too-amused bartender realised that the ink was staining and the note was not genuine. Ninger served six months, and was forced to pay a restitution of $1 (The rumour that the $1 was one of his own works is more than likely an urban legend). He disappeared and probably did not make more works, though the art community was holding out, hoping for more to be discovered. None ever were.

Link: Emanuel Ninger [wiki]

JSG Boggs Art Money.

JSG Boggs drew his very first bill in 1984 while sitting in a Chicago bar. The artist was doodling on a napkin, and the waitress liked his drawing and asked if he would pay his 90-cent bill with it instead of real money, and the "Boggs Notes" were born.

That was the start of JSG Bogg’s weird tale of "economic" art and later on, legal troubles. Boggs began "spending" his very own bills for face value - he would draw an elaborate note denominated $10 in exchange for $10 worth of goods.

Soon after, no doubt in part because of the high quality of illustrations, Boggs notes became very collectible - however, Boggs refused to sell his notes directly to collectors. He preferred to exchange his money for goods, at restaurants, bars and shops, and then tell the collectors where to hunt for the Bogg notes. In a way, Boggs likened his economic transaction as a performance art.

Boggs made his own versions of US as well as other countries’ banknotes - although instantly recognizable as "funny money" (one of his most famous notes was created for the Florida United Numismatist convention shown above, complete with "IN FUN WE TRUST"), Boggs were repeatedly arrested for counterfeiting in the USA and abroad.

The US Secret Service raided Boggs’ exhibit and home, and confiscated most of his artwork. Although to this day he was never charged with counterfeiting, the Secret Service refused to return his work.

Links: JSG Boggs [wiki] | Tout-Fait Article: In Boggs We Trust

August 22, 2006    Permalink   Comment (2)

Debt of the US Government, to the Penny.

If you think you owe a lot of money to the credit card company (or bank), take a look at our national debt - published everyday to the penny by the Bureau of Public Debt.

Since President Bush took office in 2001, our national debt has grown by about 2.7 trillion dollars!

Link - via Project Mirai Jin, Tomorrow Person

August 12, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Collectible Mint Error Coins.

Mint Error Coin: Double Striking Error

Mint Error Coin: Broadstriking Error

Mint error coins are hugely collectible - although mints routinely screen their coins for mis-struck ones, some rare ones managed to escape into general circulation and became very collectible.

Studium Magazine has a neat list of various types of mint error coins, including clipped planchet, off-center striking, double striking, and broadstrike.


August 10, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Hobo Nickel.

In the 1930s, hobos creatively carved or altered coins to trade for food, clothings, rides, or other favors. They’ve become quite collectible!

Hobo Nickel [wiki] | Original Hobo Nickel Society

August 5, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

Seal Skin Money.

From 1816 until 1832, the Russian-American Company, a Russian fur-trading company in Alaska issued its own banknotes printed on tanned walrus and seal skin!


August 4, 2006    Permalink   Comment (0)

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