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Pennylicious » Money & Currency
Archive Category: Money & Currency

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   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

Four-Dollar Bill.

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

November 8, 2006   Permalink   Comments (1)   email this  +digg


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   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (3)   email this  +digg

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

October 7, 2006   Permalink   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (2)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (4)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (1)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

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!

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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

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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   Comments (2)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (1)   email this  +digg


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]

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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   Comments (12)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (2)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (1)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (2)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

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   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

Two-Cent Coin.

Betcha didn’t know that the US government issued a two-cent coin from 1864 to 1873!

August 2, 2006   Permalink   Comments (4)   email this  +digg

Emperor Norton Money.

In 1859, Joshua Abraham Norton (ca. 1815 - 1880) of San Francisco proclaimed himself "Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico" - although he had no real power, those around him humored him and even accepted money that he printed himself to buy things!

Norton was clearly much loved and revered by the citizens of San Francisco. Although penniless, he regularly frequented the finest restaurants in San Francisco, and the proprietors of these establishments took it upon themselves to add brass plaques in their entrances that declared "By Appointment to his Imperial Majesty, Emperor Norton I of the United States." This vanity appears to have been tolerated without complaint by Norton. By all accounts, such "Imperial seals of approval" were much prized and a substantial boost to trade for such businesses. No play or musical performance in San Francisco would dare to open without reserving balcony seats for Norton and his two mongrel dogs, Lazarus and Bummer. …

Norton did receive some small tokens of formal recognition for his station; the census of 1870 records a Joshua Norton residing at 624 Commercial St, and lists him with the occupation of "Emperor." Norton would also issue his own money on occasion in order to pay for certain debts, and this was an effective local currency, generally accepted as legal tender by San Francisco businesses. (Typically these notes came in denominations from 50¢ to five dollars, and the few notes still extant have fetched thousands of dollars at recent auctions).

Emperor Norton’s Banknotes | Emperor Norton [wiki]

July 27, 2006   Permalink   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

Wooden Nickel.

In 1933, the bank in Blaine, Washington failed - so the local merchants got together and issued the first wooden coins accepted as legal tender in the USA!


July 26, 2006   Permalink   Comments (0)   email this  +digg

Plastic Money.

It turns out that not all paper money are made of paper - some are made of plastic polymers! Here is a gallery of plastic banknotes: Link

July 23, 2006   Permalink   Comments (1)   email this  +digg

Hell Money.

The Chinese believes that after someone dies, his (or her) spirit goes to the afterlife, where it lives on pretty much like in real life. And so just like in real life, you’ll need money in the afterlife - lots of it.

So how does one get money in the afterlife? Through surviving relatives and friends, of course, who burn these "hell" banknotes or money to send it through (probably because Western Union has yet to open a branch in the afterlife).

The afterlife probably has one hell of an inflation problem - the denomination on these banknotes are huge! This one above is a $8 billion note (the number 8 is considered quite lucky in Chinese culture).

But why "hell" money? Apparently, this maybe a simple confusion in the English translation. The chinese probably simply meant "afterlife".

BigWhiteGuy, a blog by Randall J. van der Woning, a white guy living in Hong Kong, has more fascinating details on Hell Money: Link

July 18, 2006   Permalink   Comments (1)   email this  +digg

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