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DollarIt’s been over nine months, and I still can’t remember if a dime is five cents and the nickel is ten or the other way round – all I know is that I will no longer chastise Leigh for not being able to do the same when she was in England and got confused between the 1p and 2p coins!

So – money, money, money … it’s a rich mans world, and of all the cool things that you can analyse about a new country is of course its currency.

Since being here, one of the things that I’ve been doing is collecting the special edition quarter-coins that are being slowly released as part of the ‘50 State Quarters Program‘.

SC CoinSince 1999, the US mint has released five special quarter (25 cent) coins each year – one every ten weeks. It’s to celebrate the 50 states – and the coins are put out into the real world in the same order that the states were admitted into the union.

Every coin is unique, and has a design and image of the state that it represents. e.g South Carolina is ‘The Palmetto State’ and has a picture of a Palmetto tree, the Carolina Wren and the Yellow Jessamine – on top of an outline of South Carolina. The star marks the position of Columbia – the capital of SC.

When I realised they were doing this, any normal person might have thought “Oh that’s cool”, kept a couple that pertained to their state they were in now, or perhaps their home state and thought nothing more of it. But Geoff being Geoff meant that he printed out an A3 size map of the USA – big enough to physically place coins down, and I’ve been collecting them ever since. You’ll see me at Coke machines in Charleston feverishly checking to see if I’ve got any ‘state’ coins in my change, and doing a little dance of joy if I think I’ve got one that isn’t already in my collection.

According to this schedule here, the final ten coins which will be released during this year are: Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii.

But looking at my own map, that means that out there right now are coins for South Dakota, Iowa and Maine which I don’t have yet … so if you find that you’ve got one in your change pocket or purse right now, then … send it my way? Please? [Click map of states, for a cool ‘periodic table’ representation of the USA]

Quarter States

Stepping up from quarters to dollars, it seems that a lot of Americans don’t know about the fact that not only do one dollar bills [notes] exist, but two different types of coins are in circulation too.

There is the Sacagawean golden coin first produced in 2000, cruely dubbed ‘The Pocahontas’ by some people – Sacagawea was a Shoshon woman who explored the United States in the early 19th century.

Alongside this in current circulation is the silver ‘Anthony’ dollar coin which was produced back in the late 1970’s and then for one year only again in 1999. This pays tribute to the women’s suffrage campaigner Susan B Anthony.

There is also (new for 2007) the ‘Presidential’ dollar coin – where they will print various former presidents on the back, but I have to see one of these yet. The idea is that people will start collecting these when they’ve got all the fifty ‘states quarters’ – or at least – suckers like me will.

One Dollar Coins

Another lesser known denomination is use here is the TWO dollar bill. Yes – you read that right. Not a lot of Americans know this even exists! But I made such a fuss about trying to get hold of one of these, that someone I know got some in their change specifically last time they were at the bank so that they could give me one.

Apparently they are rising in popularity, thanks to strip clubs which like to accept that as the standard amount to tuck into one of their lovely ladies G-Strings.

The US mint would dearly like to phase out one dollar bills and make the two dollar ones more common, because they know that with inflation it’s not going to be long until you won’t get much change out of a buck. But there are so many vending machines out there that take the $1’s at the moment, that they’re having a hard time making the change happen and convincing people that two is the new one.

Two Dollars

Santa Claus DollarA couple of novelty notes that I have encountered: For Christmas just gone, Leigh got me this rather amusing ‘Santa Claus’ one dollar bill for Christmas. They’re regular one dollar notes, but with a wonderfully drawn picture of Saint Nick stuck on the front. Publix were selling them for $3 each, with $2 of the money going to charity.

One Millions DollarsI also encountered this (totally fake, of course!) $1,000,000 bill the other day. But just think how many lap-dances that could buy you if it were real …

And Finally, spare a thought for this poor Canadian traveller that came to the UK two years ago, with a bunch of clean crisp one pound notes that his local bank had exchanged up for him. Apparently, no one had told them that the UK switched to coins from notes back in 1988.

30 responses to “Currency”

  1. Leigh says:

    I’ve got a large one dollar coin from 1971 with Eisenhour (?) on the front. You’ll like that one. And I’ve got a 50 cent coin too …

  2. geofftech says:

    i’ve also just been reminded of one of my all time favourite toilet-cubicle-wall-graffiti-gags that i saw once.

    Q. What’s the difference between Kate Moss and a forged US Dollar?

    A. One of them’s a phoney buck …

  3. Stewart says:

    You mean you still haven’t been to the bank?

    BTW, the vending machines at the post office – at least until recently – gave Poco- er, sorry, Sacajawea dollars out as change.

  4. imabug says:

    Canada switched to $1 and $2 coins about 20 or so years ago. there was much resistance back then when it happened but like the conversion to metric, the gov’t says we’re going to do it and you’ll just have to adapt. The US gov’t probably should do the same. most of the grumbling went away after a year or so (except for the strippers).

    Now all the US mint needs to do is clue into the fact that a $1 coin would probably be easier to introduce if it didn’t look or feel like a quarter. The SBA $1 coin…practically the same weight and size as a quarter. The Sacagawea coin…only a little bit bigger and about the same weight.

    I think I might have a SBA coin lying around. I’ll bring it to the next blogger gathering at Little Thai Too for you to see. You are going, right?

  5. 1. The Bank of England will permanently exchange any old currency for valid new stuff.
    2. I heard that some Americans regard $2 bills as unlucky.
    3. Can’t you just get pristine quarters from the US Mint, or is that missing the point?
    4. At least british coins have a reasonable ascending size/value/colour ratio. And our notes look more than slightly different.
    5. My favourite currency was the Dutch Guilder. They were brightly coloured with holograms of rabbits and such like.

  6. geofftech says:

    I did also hear a rumour today that the US Mint do plan to change the size of all the dollar bills at somepoint in the future.

    Currently all notes have the same physical dimensions (unlike UK notes) which can cause confusing, and lead to incidents of people ripping others off with bundles of notes. Are there any other countries where all the notes are the same size?

    And I believe that New Zealand are still quite unique in having some sort of plastic coating on their notes making them almost untearable (Ross? Leanne? I’m looking at you here for confirmation…)

  7. Richard says:

    #6 – Australia also have a plastic coating on their notes that makes them near-indestructible.

    Is it true that every dollar bill ever printed in America remains legal tender?

  8. Mikey says:

    #6 and #7 – Isn’t there a rumour that this fate will meet the 5 note, to stop them being destroyed so easily.

  9. jj says:

    #4 – the problem with dollar coins is definitely the size thing. a pocket full of dollar coins feels like a pocket full of quarters. a pocket full of POUND coins, on the other hand, feels like money.

    #6 – i like my bills all being the same size. it means they fit neatly in my wallet, and when i oppen my wallet to pay, it’s not obvious to one and all how much cash i have on me. i don’t want some larcenous fellow saying to themselves, “ooh look, he’s got some big pink notes and medium-sized aquamarine notes – i think i’ll mug him!”

  10. scottb says:

    Canadian bills are all the same size too, but each has a different colour scheme:
    $1 – green (replaced by a coin in 1987)
    $2 – rust (replaced by coin in 1996)
    $5 – blue
    $10 – purple
    $20 – green
    $50 – red
    $100 – brown
    $1000 – ? I can’t remember. I’ve never seen one, but they do exist.

    Our coins are the same size and denomintations as the US, except the $1 and $2.

    Australian notes are now covered in plastic too, and yes, they are nigh on indestructable.

  11. Chucker says:

    Geoff, you didn’t answer if you plan to attend the Feb 25 Blog Thai event?

    And nobody mentioned that the Canadian dollar coin is called a “loon” because of its prominent bird image. Naturally, since the $2 coin is twice that, it’s called a “toon.”

  12. stewart says:

    #11 – Most Canadians I know refer to them as ‘Loonies’ and ‘Toonies.’

    My Canadian colleagues note that, when the Toonie was first introduced, high sport was made of knocking the middle gold-coloured bit out of the coin.

    FWIW, I seem to remember that Canada also had a special series of quarters commemorating something-or-other in ’99 or ’00. Must dig into my ‘Ottawa Business Trip Leftovers’ piggybank.

  13. Shell says:

    Does anyone know how a blind person could differentiate between the different denomintation notes in the USA given that they are all the same size?

  14. Convict says:

    Well being the authority on Australian money (the country which created plastic notes) i can tell you they aren’t COVERED in plastic, but rather they are printed on a special polymer (plastic) created by CSIRO (the country’s scientific research body). They are waterproof and do not tear (unless something sharp creates a small nip first). This means they last about 9 times longer than paper money. They were brought into circulation about 1993.

    We too had a $1 note but switched to the $1 coin in 1984 and to the $2 coin in ’88. We also no longer have 1c or 2c coins as they were removed in 1992. Now we simply round to the nearest 5c (our lowest coin) if paying by cash.

    As for the poor candian guy, all money (excluding two rare and strange coins) are legal tender, and will be accepted at all banks, but just not at shops. The banks will swap them over and remove them from circulation.

  15. Convict says:

    Oh and the other thing that tourist find strange about our money is the at the silver coins (cents) all get bigger in size as they increase in value, but the gold coins (dollars) get smaller (the $2 is smaller then the $1).

    More on the plastic notes though. They are all brightly coloured.
    $5 is purple, $10 is blue, $20 is red-orange, $50 is gold-mustard, $100 is green. Some shops won’t accept $100 notes, and instead most people use $20 and $50.

    The main added security feature of the Australian note, is that it has a clear window part to it, which you can see right through, with a design on the window, to prove their is plastic (and that someone hasn’t just cut a hole out of the paper). Incredibly hard to forge.

    One of my favourite features though, is that the background which looks like solid colour is actually little letters, which are verses to australian poetry like The Man From Snowy River ($10). It’s only visible with a magnifying glass.

  16. Jon Allen says:

    Start collecting those American pennies and melting them down.
    Apparently Copper and nickel prices are making the metal in coins worth more than the cents they represent.
    I just read the story in the International herald tribune last week. (I can’t provide the link to it, because you need to pay for the content there sorry)

  17. geofftech says:

    Happy Valentines day, btw.

    Although if you’re not into the spirit of things, i can assure you that you’ll like this site here.

  18. Chz says:

    #10 – Canadian bills are slightly taller and shorter than American bills.

    There’s also no $1000 bill any more.

  19. Chz says:

    Er, shorter in length that is. Sort of confusing the way I worded it. =)

  20. ClaphamCommuter says:

    Anti-Valentines: Funny,fantastic! I felt sorry for all the men on my commuter train tonight, clutching their bunches of over-priced sad flowers! (I’m only jealous cos I never get any).

  21. Back in the eighties for a little schools/Royal Mint challenge, I collected a complete set of British 50p’s (the old, slightly larger ones), one from each year, including the one with all the hands going around it.

    #16 They figured out a while back that there’d be more value in the copper than the face-value of British 1p/2p coins some years back, so they issued a new type which is actually plated steel. Consequently there’s a mixture in circulation and the new ones are magnetic and the old real-copper ones aren’t.

    Finally, I’m particular to always put my notes in my wallet the right way up and with the queen’s-head side facing forward. Does anyone else do this, or am I just fussy?

  22. stewart says:

    …and have you got yer hands yet on the new dollar coin they rolled out today?

  23. Jon Allen says:

    Those US 2 dollar bills are popular here in Korea as gifts for children for the Chinese new year.
    “The $2 bill has been considered lucky after Grace Kelly, who was presented a $2 bill by Frank Sinatra, married Prince Rainier of Monaco.”

    The banks are selling presentation packs with one note of each of US , Canadian and Australian dollars and Euros.

  24. David - Lightwater - In California says:

    I am in Berkeley, ca now and they sell marmite, the small jar for $6.99!!!
    It’s only $3 in the UK!

  25. Paul Webb says:

    Rather than using two dollar bills to tuck in lovely ladies g-strings, wait until they bend over and swipe your credit card. Try asking for cash-back.

  26. Liam says:

    I’m German but grew up here in the U.S.. It is staggering, the amount of stupidity here. People who were alive when the two-dollar bill was re-issued (in 1976, it was quite well-publicised) after 8 years of non-production don’t even always know it’s a real denomination. Using Toms (twos) and dollar coins is actually a lot easier, too. (Much easier to grab than three or four dollar bills.) When I worked my old McJob I would exchange about $30 of Toms and $15 in Sacagawea dollars into my till and give them as change. Most people would just take them, usually a positive reaction for the Toms and somewhat mixed for Sacagawea. My favourite reaction was when an old woman didn’t want a Tom because she confuses them for dollar bills… when, for the vast majority of her life, all this country’s paper money looked exactly alike except for the portrait and number. (Thank God they’re finally working on that!)

  27. dikko says:

    I was in the US last month and bought some stamps from a Post Office vending machine. Only had a $20 note, so I got a walletfull of $1 coins in change.

    There isn’t a $1000 note in the current (2001-2004) Canadian banknote series, but there was in the previous (1986, Birds of Canada) series. It was “reddish purple”, but “As part of the fight against money laundering and organized crime, the 1,000 denomination was withdrawn for circulation in 2000.”

    Finally, in Australia:
    According to the Reserve Bank Act 1959, Australian notes are legal tender. According to the Currency Act 1965, coins are legal tender for payment of amounts which are limited as follows:

    * not exceeding 20c if 1c and/or 2c coins are offered (however, it should be noted that these coins have been withdrawn from circulation but are still legal tender);
    * not exceeding $5 if any of 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c coins are offered;
    * not exceeding 10 times the face value if coins in the range 50c to $10 inclusive are offered; and
    * to any value if coins of value greater than $10 are offered.

  28. annette says:

    There was also a bicentenial(sp?) quarter released. On the front of the quarter it says 1776-1976, and on the back it has a picture of a drummer.
    I have been collecting these for years. They still pop up every now and again. I actually got two of them last week.

  29. Kathleen says:

    I know most folks forget that England doesnt equal Britain but Scotland still uses 1 notes!! Think they’ve stopped making them but they are defintely still in circulation, my american friend was astounded at the sight of one before christmas 😀

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