Money isn’t just coins or bills. It has a history that dates back many centuries and has generated literally thousands of stories. Some of the classics include author Dorothy Parker’s “The Standard of Living,” Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “The Bottle Imp,” “May Day” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anton Chekov’s “The Bet.” Then there are all the pirate stories, which are basically about money and what some people will do to get it. Two of the biggest true stories about money are the Brinks Armored Car Robbery where in 1961 thieves got $1.6 million and D.B. (or Dan) Cooper who highjacked a Boeing 727, extorted $200,000, parachuted out of the plane and was never seen again. In fact, this was the only case of air piracy ever recorded in the history of U.S. aviation.
Is money really the root of all evil?
This is certainly one of the best known of all idioms but is it true? When we accumulate a lot of debt and find it hard to pay off, does that mean money have brought out the worst in us? The original saying was “for the love of money is the root of all evil.” While money can definitely have an evil component when people will go to any lengths to get it (see D.B. Cooper, above) it’s also a useful tool that tends to get a bad rap. By itself, money is just a method of exchange used by people to pay for goods and services they can’t produce themselves. Money can be used to support charitable causes and is the end product of our work. Do you suppose most of us would go to work every day if we weren’t paid for our labor?
Without money as we know it today, we’d be back to using some other method of exchange such as cows, shells or maybe beads. Can you just imagine going to the hardware store and paying for a lawn mower with a cow or a burlap bag full of shells?
Even communes need money
One of the biggest experiments in living without money is communes or what are now often called Intentional Communities or ecovillages. However, most of them have learned – sometimes the hard way – that it’s tough to get by without money. One of the oldest communes in the U.S. is The Farm, which was founded back in the 60s. It eventually found itself $400,000 in debt and now charges each adult $100 a month. In return, they get water, paved roads, housing and some other benefits. One spokesman for The Farm admits it had to change from being a commune to a collective.
The fun facts
All that being said, here are 29 fun and crazy facts about money you probably never knew.
More money is generated through gambling than movies, cruise ships, theme parks and recorded music combined
In 1932, German currency became so worthless that people would give it to their children to play with or would use it as wallpaper
A check is just an instruction to a bank and can be written on anything. Checks have been written on cows (yes, cows), stone slabs and bananas
In the whole 20th century, not one woman appeared on any U.S. paper currency
While the flu virus can live outside a human body for about 48 hours, it can live on a $1 bill for more than 10 days. This suggests you might want to wash your hands pretty thoroughly after handling money.
Your $1 bill could be worth thousands. Each bill has an eight-digit serial number and bills with the right numbers can be very valuable. For example, a $1 bill with the serial number 00000002 sells for $2500 and a $5 bill with the number 33333333 would cost you $13,000. Bills with low serial numbers (00000001 to 00000100), sevens of a kind and important dates (12071941) are also worth a lot of money.
During the hay day of the drug cartel run by Pablo Escabar (in the late 1970s), it spent $2500 a month buying rubber bands just to hold bricks of cash together
The word “buck” is often used to describe money. This is because before paper money, people traded deer and elk skins (bucks) for goods and services.
What can you do if your money gets torn up? If you can present officials of the Office of Currency Standards with at least 51% of a note, it will replace it. What happens if it gets burned up? The Office of Currency Standards will help you verify and replace it. In one case, a farmer sent the Office his cow’s stomach that was stuffed with money
The Bureau of Engraving printed paper notes during the Civil War in denominations of
3 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents and 50 cents. It did this because there was a drastic shortage of coins due to people hoarding them. These bills were used to pay Union soldiers and were called “greenbacks”
One million $1 bills weighs 2,200 pounds. You probably wouldn’t want to try to put them in your wallet.
If you stacked up all the bills that are destroyed every year the stack would be 200 miles high. In comparison the highest mountain on earth is 19,035 feet high (Mt. Everest) or a bit more than three miles high
Ever wonder what money weighs? It’s about a gram regardless of its denomination. One pound is 454 grams meaning that it requires 454 notes to make one pound
If you were to accumulate $10 billion in $1 bills and spent one every second of every day it would take 317 years for you to go broke. Of course, this is if you weren’t our Congress, which could spend $10 billion in just minutes
You can bend a bill back and forth 4,000 times before it will tear
The largest denomination of currency that has been in circulation since 1969 is the $100 note. The biggest bill ever printed was a $100,000 bill that was issued in 1934 and was actually a Gold Certificate. It was used for transactions between Federal Reserve banks.
In 1865, Congress created the Secret Service to fight counterfeit money. This was at a time when as much as 1/3 of all money in the U.S. was thought to be counterfeit. Today, about $250,000 in counterfeit bills shows up every day
Of the notes printed every year, 95% are used to replace bills already in circulation. One dollar bills represent 45% of the notes printed annually
If you laid out a mile of pennies it would total $844.80, Using this as a standard, the U.S. is roughly $2.5 billion in pennies wide from coast to coast
If you have in your pocket or wallet three quarters, four dimes and four pennies, you have $1.19. And that’s the most money you can have in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
A quarter has 119 grooves around its edge while a dime has 118. Why the grooves? It’s to make it harder for people to scrape metal off them. There was a time when coins were made out of silver and gold. People could make a nice albeit illegal living by shaving coins and then selling the precious metals.
The Spanish dollar was the unofficial national currency of the American colonies during most of the 17th and 18th century. It was actually cut into eight pieces or “bits” to make change. This gave birth to both the terms “pieces of eight” and “two bits” for a quarter
Coins generally survive for about 30 years in circulation. So don’t be surprised if you go through your change and find a nickel or dime with a date in the 1980s.
Have you ever wondered how coins are minted? Here’s a video that shows step-by-step how silver coins are made.
Finally, one million dollars in one dollar bills weighs 2,200 pounds