Facts About Coin Collecting

Wondering what the name is for an individual that collects coins? That would be a Numismatist. (Pronounced new-miss-ma-tist.) It means “someone who studies and collects things that are used as money, including coins, tokens, paper bills, and medals.”

Interested in the art of coin collecting? This type of collection was once called “The Hobby of Kings”. Today, numismatics is a hobby available to anyone. With coins flooding the internet, anyone with access and a desire to hold history their hand is able to join in on this passion. Believe it or not, the origins of this captivating hobby are quite unusual. Until the 20th century, coin collecting was exclusively a pastime of royalty and wealthy.

The first recorded person to have a coin collection was Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome. He lived from 63 B.C. to A.D. 14, and the eighth month of our year is named after him.

Not only did Augustus keep adding coins to his collection, but he also gave them as gifts. Starting this trend, many of the Roman emperors who ruled after Augustus also had large coin collections. The hobby became even more popular during the Middle Ages, when wealthy individuals and royal families built awesome collections.

This question may have crossed your mind from time to time, how long do coins last? And what happens to them once worn out? Most coins can circulate for about 25 years before they become too worn to be used anymore. That’s a long time when you consider that the average dollar lasts for only 18 months.

The United States Mint recycles worn-out coins it receives from a Federal Reserve Bank. The Mint then sends any usable metal that’s recovered to a fabricator, then repurposes for new coinage.

At first glance, many coins may look almost identical, but when you see the difference in the price tag you may think twice about how similar they really are. The things that affect the value of the coin most are age, rarity, condition, and precious metal. The value of any one coin can be surprising. For example, you can buy some Roman coins that are more than 1600 years old for less than $10.  But then there are some worn 1909 wheat pennies that sell for hundreds of dollars, or more!

Usually, the harder a coin is to find and the more people who want it, the more it’s worth. This is known as the law of supply and demand. It holds true no matter what the collectible.

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on a U.S. coin in 1864, during the Civil War. In particular, the two-cent piece; first minted in that year, was the first coin with the slogan.

Since gaining independence, the U.S. has minted coins in denominations that today may seem odd. For example, the U.S. has minted half cents (1793-1857), two-cent pieces (1864-1873), three-cent pieces (1851-1889), twenty-cent pieces (1875-1878), $2.50 gold pieces (1796-1929), $3.00 gold piece (1854-1889), $4.00 gold pieces (1879-1880), $5.00 gold pieces or half eagles (1795-1929), $10.00 gold pieces or eagles (1795-1933), and $20.00 gold pieces (“double eagles”) (1849-1933). Currently, the only coin denominations for circulation being minted are the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar.

Coin collecting is a pastime that has been around for thousands of years. It can grow with you as you find interest in different time periods in history, art-work of a particular coin and culture. There are as many avenues in coin collecting as you wish to travel, and with coins you can venture virtually anywhere around the world and to any period of time back to early human civilization right from the comfort of your home. Coin collecting can be a journey into history that lasts a lifetime – and the first coin to strike your interest may be sitting in your pocket or local coin shop right now.

Enjoy your journey in this very exciting hobby!

Dirty Money

Have you ever wondered where your money has been? Well, I can tell you that it is probably dirtier then you think.

The anatomy of our banknotes is concerning, more so than that of our copper coinage, which appears to be less hospitable to bacteria. U.S. notes, made from a blend of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, may be more attractive to bacteria than other countries’ currency. Polymer-based banknotes used in Australia and Canada have been found to be “cleaner,” meaning more resistant to dirt and bacteria, than cotton-based ones. There are no plans to change the composition of American money, however, the Federal Reserve wrote in an e-mail responding to queries. The Fed, which oversees the nation’s monetary policy and sets interest rates, said U.S. currency is not a very effective transmission agent for germs. It cited a 1982 study about survival of influenza viruses on environmental surfaces. 

Microbes, or microscopic organisms, are found on many surfaces – from restrooms, airplanes and buses. They are transferred through human contact. And money could serve as a mode of transportation for bacteria – posing a threat to human health.

Last year alone, there were 23,000 deaths caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the studies that have been taken, finding that flu viruses can persist on banknotes. Swiss researchers found in one 2008 study that flu viruses, which typically survive for a couple days on Swiss francs, can survive up to 17 days if accompanied by mucus, possibly spelling trouble for folks who handle cash after someone else with a runny nose has handled it as well. Still other studies of cash from around the world specifically point to high bacterial counts on money handled by food workers or on hospital grounds.

The dollar bill is home to thousands of microbes — bacteria, fungi and pathogens that can cause such illnesses as skin infections, stomach ulcers and food poisoning, according to scientists. Researchers at New York University have identified as many as 3,000 kinds of bacteria living on $1 bills in a new comprehensive study examining DNA on paper currency. Researchers at New York University have identified as many as 3,000 kinds of bacteria living on $1 bills in a new comprehensive study.

Money has a large role in daily life. Although we often touch a variety of objects that could be capable of absorbing, harboring and transmitting infectious organisms, money seems to be present often and it is often close to food. “It is more probable to handle money and then food than to touch a subway pole or a commonly used doorknob and then food,” notes Manolis Angelakis, an infectious diseases researcher at Aix–Marseille University, who has studied dirty money. There is no definitive research that connects enough dots to 100% prove that dirty money actually makes people sick, but we do have strong circumstantial evidence: influenza, norovirus, rhinovirus and others have all been transmitted via hand-to-hand or surface-to-hand contact in studies, suggesting pathogens could readily travel a hand-money-hand route. In one study 10 subjects handled a coffee cup contaminated with rhinovirus—and half subsequently developed an infection, so next time you are counting through your money, maybe wash your hands before you decide to eat.

Deliberation of Art or Fraud

James Stephen George Boggs was born in Woodbury, New Jersey on January 16, 1955.

James Boggs began drawing currency in 1984, sitting in a Chicago diner the artist began drawing on a paper napkin as he consumed his breakfast. He began with sketching the number 1, easily recognized on the $1 denomination. Boggs then transformed the image into a piece of art similar to the dollar bill. Eagerly, his waitress offered to buy it. Mr. Boggs refused, but instead payed for his 90 cent tab with the drawing and the waitress gratefully handed him 10 cents in change. Needless to say, at that very moment an idea sparked that would change the path of his life. His drawings of currency, illustrating only one side of the note, came to be known as “Boggs notes”. James Boggs notes were considered to be art. He would tell a collector where he spent the note and the details of the transaction, but he would never sell the notes directly. The buyer would then hunt down the person in possession of the note in order to purchase it. Boggs noted that after the initial transaction the notes would be resold for much more than their face value, it is said that one Boggs notes resold for $420,000.

One of his well known pieces are a series of bills done for the Florida United Numismatists’ annual convention. Denominations from $1 to $50 (and perhaps higher) feature designs taken from the reverse sides of U.S. currency, making minor changes to captions such as: “The United States of America” is changed to “Florida United Numismatists” and the denomination wording is occasionally replaced by the acronym “FUN”. Also changes to the imagery; the mirroring of Monticello on the $2, the Supreme Court building, as opposed to the U.S. Treasury, on the $10 and an alternate angle for the White House on the $20 bill. They were printed in bright orange on one side and featured Boggs’s autograph and thumbprint on the other.

 Boggs viewed his “transactions” as a type of art, but the authorities often viewed him and his work with speculation. Boggs wanted his audience to question and investigate just what it is that makes “money” valuable in the first place. 

“I create images that say things and ask things,” Mr. Boggs said in the 2013 Discovery Channel documentary “Secret Life of Money.” “I take them out into the real world and try to spend them, not as counterfeits, but as works of art that ask us about the nature of money.”

He firmly denied that he was a counterfeiter or forger, but rather maintained that a good business model between informed parties that this performance was certainly not fraud, even if the item transacted happens to resemble currency. Boggs was first arrested for counterfeiting in England in 1986, and was successfully defended by the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC & Mark Stephens and acquitted. As detailed in Geoffrey Robertson’s book The Justice Game, all Bank of England notes now carry a copyright message on the face as a direct result of Boggs’s activities, the idea being that if they cannot secure a counterfeiting charge, then they can at least secure a copyright violation. He was arrested for a second time in Australia in 1989, acquitted and awarded the equivalent of US$20,000 in damages by the presiding judge. Boggs home was raided three times between 1990 and 1992 by the United States Secret Service on suspicion of counterfeiting. Resulting in the raids, 1300 items were confiscated, although no legal case was brought against him. In September 2006, Boggs was arrested in Florida and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and carrying a concealed weapon. He failed to appear in court a few months later.

Police bust Boggs at the Young Unknowns Gallery, London, 1986

“They said I was a counterfeiter,” an indignant Mr. Boggs told The Associated Press in 1992, when agents in the counterfeiting division of the Secret Service raided his apartment near Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he was an artist in residence, and took possession of more than 100 of his artworks. “They don’t understand the difference between art and crime.”

With the immense talent he held, it is no wonder prestigious museums sought after this work. Some of the artwork can be found in numerous places, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian Institution, Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence Kansas and the British Museum in London, England. Boggs died on January 22, 2017 in Tampa at the age of 62, but his story will live on forever through his work and his legacy.

New Year’s Good Luck Cake

Vasilopita is a New Year’s Day bread or cake in Greece and many other areas in eastern Europe, which contains a hidden coin that is believed to bring luck to the one who obtains the coin. It is associated with Sainr Basil’s day. (Saint Basil’s Feast Day is observed on January 1, the beginning of the New Year and the Epiphany season known as the Vasilopita Observance) January 1, in most of Greece, but in some regions, the traditions surrounding a cake with a hidden coin are associated with Epiphany or Christmas The dough in which the coin is placed varies immensely depending on personal preference and location/region. In some families, instead of dough, it is made from a custard base. The pie is known as Chronópita, meaning New Year’s Pie.

On New Year’s Day families cut the vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is usually done at the midnight of New Year’s Eve. A coin is hidden in the bread by slipping it into the dough before baking. At midnight the sign of the cross is etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. 

In older times, the coin often was a valuable one, such as a gold sovereign. As time went on, the tradition of a costly coin (in most cases) changed. In more modern times, a gift, money or prize is given to the coin recipient. Many private or public institutions, such as societies, clubs, workplaces, companies, etc., cut their vasilopita on New Year’s Day and the beginning of the Great Lent, in celebrations that range from impromptu potluck gatherings to formal receptions or balls.

How did this tradition start you may ask? In popular belief, vasilopita is associated with a legend of Basil of Caesarea. According to one story, Basil called on the Roman citizens of Caesarea to raise a ransom payment to stop the enemy forces from surrounding the city, cutting off essential supplies with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside. Each individual of the city gave what they had in gold and jewelry. When the ransom was raised, the  adversary was so embarrassed by the people’s cooperation that he called off the siege without taking a thing. Basil was then tasked with returning the unpaid ransom, but had no way of knowing which items belonged to which family, so he baked all of the jewelry into loaves of bread and distributed the loaves around the city, and by a miracle each citizen received their exact share.

The 1974 Aluminum Cent

In 1973 the United States Mint proposed an aluminum one-cent coin. It was to be composed of an alloy of aluminum and trace metals, and intended to replace the predominantly copper–zinc cent due to the rising costs of coin production in the traditional bronze alloy.

Of the 1,571,167 coins struck in anticipation of release, none were released into circulation. In an effort to gain acceptance for the new composition, the Mint distributed approximately three dozen examples to various members of the House Banking and Currency Committee and the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Nine congressmen and four senators received examples, along with some Treasury officials. Additional specimens were given out by then Mint Director Mary Brooks. Ultimately, the proposal was rejected in Congress, due mainly to the efforts of the copper-mining and vending machine industries, which felt the coins would cause mechanical problems. Opposition also came from pediatricians and pediatric radiologists who pointed out the radiodensity of the metal inside the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts was close to that of soft tissue, and therefore would be difficult to detect in X-ray imaging. In addition, the price of copper declined enough that making copper cents would again be economically viable, and conversely made hoarding pointless. The idea of changing the composition of the cent would not be explored again until the 1980s.

After the setback, the US Mint recalled the coins, but about 12 to 14 aluminum cents were never returned to the mint. No oversight, record keeping, or statement that the coins had to be returned was made by the US Mint as examples were handed out. When Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government law enforcement agencies were called in to investigate, however, some congressmen either feigned ignorance or completely denied getting examples. One left over coin was donated to the Smithsonian Institution, while another was alleged to have been found by a US Capitol Police Officer. A 1974-D specimen was found in January 2014 by Randall Lawrence, who said it was a retirement gift to his father, who worked at the Mint in Denver. Randall planned on selling it in a public auction, but the Mint demanded its return, saying that the coin was never authorized for release and therefore remains U.S. Government property. Lawrence (and his business partner at their coin store, Michael McConnell) ultimately surrendered the coin when the Mint showed that the aluminum cent had never been authorized to be struck in Denver, and there was no evidence that the coin had been a gift of any kind.

Coins of Black History Month

Each February, the United States recognizes, remembers and celebrates the important people and events that have shaped the African-American experience in our country. To commemorate Black History Month this year, we’re celebrating with some of our favorite coins.

1995 $5 Civil War Gold Coin
Housing and commercial development was being urged toward American Civil War battlefields increasingly in the 1990s. Surcharges from the sale of commemorative coins were seen as one means of funding these sites’ preservation as public trusts. Toward this end Congress approved a three-denomination coin set consisting of a copper-nickel-clad half dollar, a silver dollar and a gold half eagle, each of which would be offered in both uncirculated and proof editions.

The obverses of all three coins were designed by Connecticut artist Donald Troiani. The San Francisco Mint struck both editions of the half dollar, as well as proofs of the silver dollar. The uncirculated strikes of the silver dollar came from Philadelphia, while West Point provided both issues of the gold half eagle.

Despite competition from the vast 1995 coin program for the Atlanta Olympics, the Civil War Battlefields commemoratives sold reasonably well. The notable exception was the half eagle, which posted the lowest sales figures yet for this denomination in the modern commemorative series. The half dollar was selected for inclusion in that year’s Prestige Proof Set, which helped its overall sales considerably.

American Liberty 225th Anniversary Coin
The American Liberty 225th Anniversary Coin is a one-ounce gold coin minted to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Mint. It was released on April 6th, 2017. A companion series of one-ounce silver medals bearing the same designs was released on October 6th later that year.

The design of the coin, which was the first minted depiction of Lady Liberty portrayed as an African-American woman, sparked a national conversation as a record-high number of viewers watched the U.S. Mint’s live-streamed unveiling in January 2017. The 2017 coin was a result of the exploration of concepts for a new and modern Liberty and was directly inspired by the controversial 2015 African American Liberty designed by another AIP artist.

The usage of an African-American woman on the design sparked a minor controversy within the numismatic community, as some coin collectors voiced their disapproval There is a mintage limit of 100,000 for the gold coins. 14,285 pieces, or 14.3% of the total possible, were sold on the first day that the coin became available on the US Mint catalog.

Booker T. Washington Memorial Half-Dollar
In 1946, the U.S. Mint made history when it released the Booker T. Washington Memorial Silver Half-Dollar — the first-ever U.S. coin to honor an African-American individual. Since that time, groundbreaking leaders and events in African-American history have been featured on 90% silver commemorative coins.

The half dollar was designed by Isaac Scott Hathaway. The obverse depicts Booker T. Washington and the reverse shows the cabin in which Washington was born (now the Booker T. Washington National Monument) and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans with the words “From slave cabin to Hall of Fame.” It was minted in silver between 1946 and 1951.

2009 District of Columbia Duke Ellington Quarter
In release of the Duke Ellington quarter the  U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy said: “Like many great Americans who succeed in what they love doing, Duke Ellington was equal parts talent, hard work, passion and perseverance,”

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born and raised in Washington. He and other black music legends, such as Ella Fitzgerald, helped establish the city’s U Street as an entertainment corridor.

The Ellington coin beat out designs featuring abolitionist Frederick Douglass and astronomer Benjamin Banneker. The coin with Ellington resting his elbow on a piano was officially released Jan. 26 2009.

“With Duke on the coin, we are sending an important message to the world that D.C. is a lot more than a government town,” D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said.

Prior to the Ellington quarter, the only U.S. coin to depict a black person was a 2003 Missouri state coin that featured explorers Lewis and Clark with a black slave named York, Mint spokeswoman Carla Coolman said. Commemorative coins have also featured black figures but those coins weren’t put into circulation.

The 1909 Pennsylvania Train Robbery

It’s 1909 and the Philadelphia mint just produced a fresh batch of coins. East of Lewistown, PA on Route 322 there is an area called the “narrows”, a five to six mile stretch where the mountain sides on both sides of the Juniata river are extremely steep. The highway is on the northern side of the river, and the railroad tracks are on the southern side.

The Lewistown “Narrows”

A train traveling from the Philadelphia mint to Pittsburgh was in the middle of the “narrows” the train was said to be stopped by a single man who had dynamite on the tracks. The train was carrying three large safes containing an undisclosed amount of currency and five bags holding about $6,000 in gold and silver bars, and money was stacked in a corner.

The engine had passed over three sticks of dynamite, which blew off the cowcatcher and headlight. The man then, robbed the train of several sacks of coins and disappeared up the mountainside.The robber threatened the crew and fired several shots at the conductor, Isaac Poffenberger, wounding his hand. The robber then ordered the crew to carry several large bags of coins into the woods, had them re-board the train and fired several shots as the train pulled away.

Example of a VDB

When investigators arrived at the scene, they found the bags still in the woods. The robber had passed up the gold and silver bars and snatched bags containing newly minted pennies. After an inventory was taken, it was realized that the only thing that was missing were several sacks of one cent coins! This man was rumored to be ”Pennsylvania’s Jesse James”, Jesse james would never be reported found.

A week after the search for Jesse James was officially called off, another robbery took place in the area, but it got little notice in the papers. On the 29th of October, a 38-year old man in Philadelphia walked into a police station and confessed to being the robber, but his story was soon found to be false. As time passed, the robbery became famous both for its daring style and for the fact that the bandit got away with so little. Many people came to visit the site of the robbery. One of the most notable visitors was Theodore Roosevelt. While on his whistle-stop campaign tour in 1912, he had his special train stop at the scene for him to inspect it personally.

It was discovered in 1954 that apparently the investigators overlooked some bags that were left in the nearby forest. In 1954, a couple of men were hunting on the mountain, and the one guy stepped, slipped and fell on pennies and they recovered over 3,500 1909 cents that had been laying there in the dirt for 45 years. They were all badly corroded, but were sold by local dealers as the find from the infamous railroad heist.

It has never officially been concluded that all the coins were found. Do you think it’s possible that some of these treasures could still lie in the Lewistown forest?

Sources: [X] [X] [X]

Stickered Pennies from around the United States

Have you seen a Penny with a sticker on one side? 

In 1935, R. Stanton Avery invented self adhesive labels and sticker advertising began. A couple of decades later, affixing advertising stickers to U.S. coins came into its heyday. Like their predecessor trade tokens, stickered coins were not exclusively made for business advertisement. Some employers paid employees with them in an effort to demonstrate how vital they were to the local economy. Some were used as premiums, prizes, campaign handouts or commemorated a special occasion such as a town’s anniversary.

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MacDougall’s Stickered Lincoln Penny, Seattle, WA
“SPM Small Profit Margin” Saves your pennies

MacDougall’s department store operated on the SE corner of 2nd & Pike in downtown Seattle from 1908 to the 1960’s. It was the smallest of downtown Seattle’s major department stores. According to historian Clark Humphrey, this department store was the first to make the transition from gaslight to electricity in Seattle along with being the first with a passenger elevator to take customers to one of its five floors. The five-story building located at 2nd Avenue and Pike Street, had the wide Chicago windows and steel framing of the most modern department stores of the early 1900s. Demolished 1971 to make way for a parking lot.

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Campaign Stickered Lincoln Penny, Rockwall, TX
“All for Hall from Rockwall” Lt. Governor


Politician Ralph Hall, lead an interesting life. At 12, while working in a local pharmacy, he sold two cartons of Old Golds, two Coca-Colas and all the newspapers they had to Bonnie and Clyde. After flying  Hellcat fighter aircraft during World War II, he served in the U.S. Senate 1980-2014, switching parties in 2004 from Democrat to Republican. At the age of 91 Hall lost his seat in Texas’s 4th congressional district. There is an airport, man-made lake and an expressway named after him in Rockwall, TX. Hall would frequently chat with constituents or hand out pennies bearing his name. When the aides tried to scrap the penny giveaway program they got an earful from the public.

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The Gay Dolphin Stickered Lincoln Penny, Myrtle Beach, SC
I was at the Gay Dolphin Myrtle Beach S.C.


First opened in 1946 The Gay Dolphin Gift Cove is a beachside souvenir emporium stuffed with over 70,000 items. It first opened in 1946 (when “gay” simply meant “happy” to the owners when devising their whimsical, nautical name), and claims to be the “nation’s largest” gift emporium. The roughly 30,000 square feet is like a maze, even selling an “I Got Lost in the Gay Dolphin” tee shirt. Exploring the wares leads to encounters with pirates, yeti, velociraptor, mermaids, alligator heads, seashells and of courses, dolphins. Few stickered pennies can be found with original sticker advertisement on them.

The Compton Fair Stickered Penny, Compton, CA
Compton Fair Apr. 9 thru 11 at Compton College

Compton Community College was established in 1927 as a component of the Compton Union High School District. From 1932 to 1949, it operated as a four-year junior college, incorporating the last two years of high school as well as the first two years of college. There isn’t much on the Compton Fair and whether it was a reoccurring event as well as if it was just for students or for the community of Compton.

The Aunt Jemima Stickered Cent
Nancy Sasser and Aunt Jemima Make ¢ for You

Aunt Jemima is a brand of pancake mix, syrup, and other breakfast foods owned by the Quaker Oats Company of Chicago, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. The trademark dates to 1893, although Aunt Jemima pancake mix debuted in 1889. Nancy on the sticker perhaps refers to the former slave, Nancy Green, hired by R. T. Davis Milling Company as a spokesperson for the Aunt Jemima pancake mix in 1890.

The Exchange Lincoln Cent, Largo, Flordia
The Exchange Largo, Fla

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES, also referred to as The Exchange) is the retailer on U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide. For more than 100 years before the post exchange system was created, traveling merchants known as sutlers provided American soldiers with goods and services during times of war. Sutlers served troops at Army camps as far back as the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars.

On 25 July 1895, the War Department issued General Orders No. 46, directing commanders at every post to establish a post exchange “wherever practicable.” Post exchanges served two missions: first, “to supply the troops at reasonable prices with the articles of ordinary use, wear, and consumption, not supplied by the Government, and to afford them a means of rational recreation and amusement,” and second, “provide the means for improving the messes” through exchange profits. Since its establishment, the Exchange has been involved in 14 major military operations (to include World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Balkans and Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom) as well as several dozen humanitarian and disaster relief contingencies.

Shinplasters

A shinplaster was a common name for paper money of low denomination circulating widely in the frontier economies of the 19th century. These notes were in various places issued by banks, merchants, wealthy individuals and associations, either as banknotes, or circulating IOUs. They were often a variety of token intended to alleviate a shortage of small change in growing frontier regions. They were sometimes used in company shop economies or peonages in place of legal tender.

Shinplasters circulated in the United States from 1837 to 1863, during the period known as the “Free Banking Period.”  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name comes from the quality of the paper, which was so cheap that with a bit of starch it could be used to make papier-mâché-like plasters to go under socks and warm shins.

During the “Free Banking Period”, only state-chartered banks existed. They could issue bank notes against specie (gold and silver coins) and the states heavily regulated their own reserve requirements, interest rates for loans and deposits, the necessary capital ratio etc. These banks had existed since 1781, in parallel with the Banks of the United States. The Michigan Act (1837) allowed the automatic chartering of banks that would fulfill its requirements without special consent of the state legislature. This legislation made creating unstable banks easier by lowering state supervision in states that adopted it. The real value of a bank bill was often lower than its face value, and the issuing bank’s financial strength generally determined the size of the discount. By 1797 there were 24 chartered banks in the U.S.; with the beginning of the Free Banking Era (1837) there were 712.

During the free banking era, the banks were short-lived compared to today’s commercial banks, with an average lifespan of five years. About half of the banks failed, and about a third of which went out of business because they could not redeem their notes.

In Canada, the term shinplaster was widely used for 25-cent paper monetary notes which circulated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first design was printed on March 1, 1870 and the final design was first printed on July 2, 1923 The term likely arose from the previously issued 5 shilling note (1/4 Pound) which also bore the french term “Cinq Piastre” on the face.

Canadian 25¢ shinplaster

In Australia, shinplasters or calabashes (as they were known in southern Queensland) were a feature of the Squatters’ vast pastoral enterprises, and often circulated in the towns of the bush alongside and in place of legal tender. These private IOUs circulated widely, at times making up the bulk of cash in circulation, especially in the 1840s and 50s.

In some places they formed the core of a company shop economy, circulating as private currencies. They were often of such low quality that they could not be hoarded, and shopkeepers off the property would not take them, as they would deteriorate into illegibility before they could be redeemed.

There are tales of unscrupulous shopkeepers and others baking or otherwise artificially aging their calabashes given as change to travelers so that they crumbled to uselessness before they could be redeemed.

As commerce and trade grew in centres such as Toowoomba, more and more calabashes were issued, and more and more merchants, squatters and others engaged in transactions were forced to give their ‘paper’ in change or as payment for goods and services

Picture via National Library of Australia

Disney Dollars

Disney dollars are a form of corporate scrip sold by The Walt Disney Company and redeemable for goods or services at many Disney facilities.
Similar in size, shape and design to the paper currency of the United States, most bills bear the image of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Dumbo and/or a drawing of one of the landmarks of the Disneyland Resort or the Walt Disney World Resort. The currency is accepted at the company’s United States theme parks, the Disney cruise ships, the Disney Store and at certain parts of Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Caribbean.

The idea of Disney Dollars first started when Harry Brice, a silhouette cutter on Main Street in Disneyland was visiting a Disneyana (Disney Collectors) Convention.  Mr. Brice thought:

I couldn’t believe that people were paying, money for — anything with Disn​ey on it.  So I began to wonder, ‘why couldn’t Disney make something just for the collector?’ So I came up with the idea to make a souvenir item, which would be sold in the park, that looked like money.” (Clark & Cahill, 1987, 4)

Brice’s concept for a selection of souvenir currency was shared with his associates and they got the okay to begin a design process.  Some of the original ideas were to create “a three dollar bill with a picture of the Three Pigs or a seven dollar bill with the Dwarfs”, In fact the first rendering of the Disney Dollar was created as an advertisement tool.  As seen in the image of Disneyland’s Star Tours attraction

The first series released was illustrated by the Creative Service Illustrator Matt Mew. The printing was done by EPI of Battlecreek, Michigan.  They were known for high quality printing using intaglio steel engraving. This printing process along with using special 100% cotton paper, “gives the bills the look and feel of real money”.

Disney Dollars were officially released to the public in 1987; the first series was the A series released at DisneyWorld and Disneyland. The bills stated, “May Be Used As Legal Tender Only At Disneyland”. Shortly thereafter both the D series and the 1987A series were released with “May Be Used As Legal Tender Only At Disneyland and Disneyworld” Disney printed 870,000 of the original series for the May 5, 1987 release at both parks. Each bill was series “A” or “D”. The former created for Disneyland in Anaheim, California (hence the “A”), and the latter “D” for Walt Disney World in Florida. New Disney dollars have been produced every year until the discontinuation since 1987 except 1992, 2004 and 2010.​

Disney Dollars have changed quite a  bit since 1987, But they have also kept some key features too. Key features starting with the 1987 Disney Dollar that still continued until 2014 include: tinkerbell and Scrooge McDuck’s signature. Each bill also features an “important” character.  These are Disney Characters of which primarily have been Mickey Mouse on the $1, Goofy on the $5 and Minnie Mouse on the $10. However In 2007, 2011, and 2014, a non character portrait has been used.