Right on the Money


What’s your money telling you? If you take the time to take a closer look, you may be surprised, amused, taken aback or even up in arms at what you find.

What people write (or draw) on the face of U.S. currency, despite laws that purportedly forbid it, can range from poetic to prosaic, from farcical to fanatical, from practical to practically outrageous. “Taxes are revolting, why aren’t you?” proclaims a $1 bill stamped in red block letters, while another states the truism that, “sex and beauty may be used as weapons.” George Washington may be seen to wink, smoke, sport outlandish facial hair or to make offensive gestures. It’s all in the realm of money graffiti, a ubiquitous sociological phenomenon.

If one looks carefully enough, one can find numerous examples of U.S. bank notes on which bearers have inscribed jokes, jeers, names, phone numbers, advertisements, philosophies, taunts, initials, caricatures, shopping lists, crackpot schemes and a host of memorable miscellany. Americans adorn their greenbacks with a wide variety of folk art, doodles, adages, ethnic slurs, obscenities, imprecations, maledictions, praises, catch phrases, threats, love notes, political rants and sometimes pure gobbledygook. It’s an area that seems to cry out for serious analysis; for example, who writes on money and why? Why does someone use a C-note for a notepad or a dollar bill for scratch paper?

Good News for Graffitophilists

“WILL I EVER… SEE THIS AGAIN” asks a ballpoint notation on a $20. bill; and the answer to this anonymous scribe is, “you just might.” Just as there are numismatists (coin collectors), there are notaphilists (those who collect paper money); and although not as widespread as coin or stamp collecting, banknote collecting is a rapidly growing area of numismatics. In the world of notaphily, there’s an even smaller segment of collectors who fall into the category of what might be called, to coin a term, graffitophilists. And that $20. bill may be in someone’s collection.

Among graffiti lovers there are rumors that a search engine is in development that will allow interested parties to hunt for bills with particular names or unique language; so anyone who’s ever embellished a bank note in the past 25 years and wonders where it wound up may be able to locate it in the archives of certain collectors. Some of them plan to give out cash rewards for designated bills now in circulation that will pay finders 100 times the bill’s face value, so that designated $1. bills would be worth $100., $5. bills $500., and $10. bills $1000. That news should excite cash-strapped consumers, who, with the time and inclination to pay closer attention to their cash in hand, may enjoy a surprise windfall. But even without a search engine, interested parties will be happy to learn that they can enjoy a random browsing of virtual caches of cash online right now, some offering galleries of specimens culled from circulation during the past 3 decades and which no one has seen till now. For novelty value alone, this is a hobby that’s right on the money. Literally.

© 2011 Richard Anthony – All rights reserved.

Source by Richard I Anthony

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