LXXXIV – Money, Money, Money

Everyone carries money with them. For some, that money is a piece of plastic, in the form of a credit or debit card. Some would prefer to use strictly electronic payments. Others want their cash. Again, some couldn’t care one way or the other, then there’s those who swear by cash. No matter what, money is money.

Every country uses money in some form. England uses the Pound, Russia has rubles, the Euro is all over Europe, and several countries (such as Canada, Australia and the US) call their currency “dollars”. One of the nicknames of the US dollar is the “greenback” since at one time it was printed with black ink on the front and green on the back. Currently, the dollar uses all sorts of colors and security stuff to attempt to dissuade counterfeiting. Yeah, right, like that’s gonna stop people. All the watermarks, color changing ink and holograms won’t keep someone out there from trying to illegally copy money. Some people will do anything for free money. Hell, I’d love for Jeff Bezos to gift me with a million or so.

The US dollar currently circulates seven denominations. At one time, there were eleven. Right now, there’s the $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills. Up until the mid-twentieth century, you could spend a $500, $1000, $5000 or $10000 bill. Unfortunately, bills larger than $100 no longer circulate, since they were seldom used. You might find one at a pawn shop or coin seller, but they’ll cost you big. At the “Pawn Stars” shop in Las Vegas, I once saw for sale a $500 and $1000 bill. You probably will never see the $5000 and $10000 bills personally, since only about 300 of each are known to exist. In Las Vegas, at Binion’s Horseshoe casino, there is a million-dollar display. One million dollars is encased in a display for the public to see. Currently, I believe it is filled with $100 bills. There was a time when that display was a giant horseshoe, inside of which contained $10,000 bills, in five columns of 20 bills. There are pictures online of both the older and current displays.

Did you know that the largest bill the US ever produced was not the $10000? There was a $100,000 gold certificate made at one time, used many years ago strictly for large inter-bank transactions. However, that bill was never publicly circulated, and is in fact illegal for a private citizen to possess. Instead of the usual green printing, the back and the serial number on the front were printed in gold-colored ink. Since banks can transfer money electronically, there was no longer a need for that $100,000 bill.

Most people are familiar with the $2 bill, that it exists. It’s not a very common bill, since only about 3% of all money out there is $2 bills. They’re an interesting novelty, since they’re uncommon. I don’t know why the $2 bill is not more common. It could reduce the number of bills in your wallet. Heaven knows servers and strippers would much rather have a fat stack of $2 bills than the same stack of $1s. Time and time again, Americans have proven they don’t want to eliminate the dollar bill for a coin. Several have been attempted, none have fared well. Back in the 1970s, there was the Eisenhower dollar. Its problem was that the coin was massive. In 1979-1981 there was the Susan B. Anthony dollar, jokingly called the “Carter Quarter” since it came out near the end of Jimmy Carter’s term, and was almost identical to a quarter. Many people were confused and would spend those dollar coins as quarters. In 1999, the Anthony dollar was re-issued, followed in 2000 by the Sacagawea dollar coins. Supposedly meant to eliminate the dollar bill, the shiny golden colored coins literally lost their luster. After a short period of circulation, the coins became quite dull and ugly. The coins for the most part are still made today, but mainly for collectors. Then there’s the dollar coins depicting dead presidents, from Washington to Reagan. Neither of these coins were very popular, and basically made for collectors.

Something not many know is that since 2000, Ecuador has officially adopted the US dollar as their currency. From an article I read recently, Ecuadorians love the Sacagawea dollar coins. For many, it feels weird traveling to Hawaii and still using our dollars. Imagine traveling to Ecuador and not needing to go through currency exchange🤨.

Is anyone else getting tired of all these damned special quarters programs? Since 1999, there have been several different quarters designs per year. First it was to honor each state, then it was the US Territories, then National Parks and Historic Sites. The last one of this set is supposed to come out in 2021. I hope that the government will finally revert to the normal quarter, one per year. At first, they were interesting, but the coins now, no one even freaking knows what or where these places are. It would appear that maybe next year we will return to the “regular” quarters, but with a newly-designed back, rather than the eagle that was on there from 1932 until 1998.

One last interesting thing about coins. Up until 1964, dimes, quarters and half-dollars (such a coin exists?!) were made out of silver. In 1965, however, because of some coinage law—whatever the hell it was called—previously silver coins were from then forward made from a copper/nickel combination. I have a small collection of these silver coins. No, I don’t plan on spending them any time soon. May I interject an interesting story? I used to work as a gas station cashier on the graveyard shift from about 1997 – 2001. On one of these shifts, a kid comes in to buy something. He holds out these coins, and asks if we accept them. I said, sure. The coins had a face value of one dollar, so he spent them as a dollar each. But, the coins were what are called Silver Eagles. These coins are one ounce each of solid silver. The kid spent two ounces of silver as $2.00. Needless to say, they didn’t stay in the drawer very long. I bought them out of the register as soon as the kid left. His loss. As of early January 2020, those two coins each are worth roughly $18, just from the metal value. At one point back in 2011, silver sold for nearly $50 an ounce. Maybe I should have sold them then? Or perhaps I should wait to see if the economy tanks again🤔?

Okay, maybe this was more educational than a rant, but I guess you can’t get crazy over everything. It is said that money can’t buy happiness. Maybe not, but I’d sure as hell love to be given the chance to prove it. Give me a few million dollars. I’m sure I’ll be happy for a little while!

Hopefully, you don’t wind up (like me😭) with too much month at the end of the money. Save it or spend it and enjoy yourself. Whatever you choose to do with your money, always remember, while you’re doing it, to be safe and be well.

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