Posts Tagged ‘currency’

Currencies that you never knew existed

Monday, March 16th, 2009

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While modern day money is considered to have evolved from its most primitive stages, it’s worth noting that for our ancestors it would have not been so easy to carry money around. In Yap, Micronesia, locals have used a very unusual form of currency, in the form of stones called Rai stones. These special stones were carved out of limestone, with each Rai stone weighing an approximate 8800 lbs, and carried around using canoes and rafts. Perhaps, the most peculiar thing about this currency was the fact that its value was not determined by its denomination. Apart from its size and history determining its value, a particular Rai stone could be highly sought after if many people – or no one at all – died when the specific stone was transported. No wonder, that these special stones had the names of all previous owners carved on it.

During the 15th century, the Royal Courts of Malay Peninsula used small non-scribed tin ingots called the “Tin Animal Money”. This form of money which later evolved into a form of currency was used in the Sultanate of Perak during the 16th and 17th centuries. Later they were also used in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan and were usually in the shapes of crocodile money. These small pieces served as small change and were traded by weight. The currency denomination of these ingots was based upon the amount of tin that could be exchanged for one Spanish silver dollar (8 Reales). The ingots were minted in the shape of animals and insects, such as elephants, cocks, tortoises and grasshoppers. It is said that these models or shapes were made under the supervision of magicians.

Currencies that you never knew existed

At the end of the 19th century, the Kissi, Loma and Bandi peoples living in the border regions of today’s Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea introduced the ‘Kissi money’ or ‘Kissi penny’. This money is said to have circulated for many decades along with American, British and French money. The most peculiar aspect of the Kissi money was its shape. Its characteristic form is a twisted rod of iron with flattened ends: a flat, hoe-like spatula at one end and a sharpened ‘T’ at the other. Its length varied from 9 to 15 inches, the longer ones representing a higher denomination. If the iron rod broke, it was considered to be of no value, and its value could only be restored in a special ceremony performed by the Zoe, a traditional witchdoctor – who for a fee, would rejoin the broken pieces and reincarnate the escaped soul. Therefore, the Kissi money is also known as the ‘money with a soul’.

In the 19th and early 20th century, a cross cast out of lumps of copper known as the Katanga Cross was used as the currency in parts of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its name derives from Katanga, a rich copper mining region in Africa along the Kasai River in Zaire. For centuries, these crosses served as indications of wealth and were used in payments, trade and currency. It is said to be also used in bride wealth payments, and have been found in burials. During its primetime, one cross was worth six chickens, two lengths of good fabric, nine pounds of rubber, or six axes. Two crosses could be used to buy a gun. In 1961 after Katanga declared independence from the Congo, it issued its first coins. The coins pictured the Katanga cross as homage to their heritage.

Facts About the One Dollar Bill

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

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Did you know:

o that the 1st one dollar notes were issued by the Federal Government in 1862. They featured a portrait of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase?

o that the first use George Washington’s portrait on one dollar notes was on the 1869 United States Notes?

o that the inclusion of “In God We Trust” on all currency was required by law in 1955. It first appeared on paper money in 1957, on one dollar Silver Certificates, and on all Federal Reserve Notes starting in 1963?

o that the first one dollar Federal Reserve Notes were issued in 1963. It had George Washington on the face and the Great Seal on the back? This remains unchanged.

o that of all the notes printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, one dollar notes make up 45% of all currency made?

o that the life span of a one dollar bill is 21 months?

o that the face and back designs of all U.S. paper currency, except the backs of the one and two dollar bills were adopted in 1928?

o that George Washington is on the one dollar bill, Thomas Jefferson is on the $2, Abraham Lincoln is on the $5, Alexander Hamilton is on the $10, Andrew Jackson is on the $20, Ulysses Grant is on the $50, and Benjamin Franklin is on the $100?

o that notes of higher denominations, while no longer produced featured William McKinley on the $500, Grover Cleveland on the $1000, James Madison on the $5000, and Salmon Chase on the $10,000?

o Faceplate Numbers and Letters are the small numbers and letters that can be found in the lower right and upper left corners of a bill?

o In the left corner of the dollar bill is the Note Position Number? This consists of the Note Position Letter and a quadrant number. The Note Position Letter is followed by the Plate Serial Number. This identifies the plate the note was printed from. The Plate Serial Number for the back side of the note is in the lower-right corner.

o that bills that have a small “FW” in the lower right corner on the front of the bill indicate that the bill was printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas?

All of these things contribute to what the dollar is today. You probably haven’t thought much about The Great Seal or the Note Position Letter and Plate Serial Number. If you take a closer look at that dollar in your pocket, you can trace it back to its exact location on the plate it was printed from. It may not be top on your list of things to do when you’re paying for your cup of coffee but someone could certainly track this dollar to its roots if they wanted to. Take a look, you might find something interesting yourself!

The History of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Monday, March 9th, 2009

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The Bureau of Engraving and Printing can be traced back to August 29, 1862. It was a single room in the basement of the Treasury Building. Here, two men and four women separated and sealed $1 and $2 US notes which had been printed by private bank note companies. Now, there are about 2,500 employees working out of two buildings in Washington D.C. and a new building in Fort Worth, Texas. On April 26, 1991, the Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth had its grand opening.

Emma S. Brown was the youngest employee every hired by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. She started working in 1865 when she was almost 11 years old. She had a physically –handicapped mother and an older brother who was the main bread winner for the family. He was a soldier with the 188th Pennsylvania Volunteers and was killed in action during the siege of Petersburg in July, 1864. Emma Brown’s Congressman gave her a political appointment to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in the examination division. Ms. Brown was forewoman of the trimming section for 59 years before retiring on April 24, 1924.

1877 brought the need for a Plate Printer force which included a large number of experienced firemen who were formed into a Fire Brigade for the protection of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing property. Electric lighting was introduced to the Bureau in 1888; six years before a majority of the Bureau positions were placed under Civil Service. By 1908, all of the positions were under Civil Service. The printing of revenue stamps was taken over by the Bureau in 1876 and in 1894 they began printing postage stamps. During World War II, the Bureau overprinted stocks of regular currency notes that had certain distinguishing, identifying features which were shipped over for use in the Hawaiian Islands.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has printed currency for the governments of the Republic of Cuba, Siam, Korea and the Philippines. The Bureau was reimbursed by each government for all the work that was done. Denominations ranging from 1/5 cent Wine Stamp all the way to the $100,000,000 International Monetary Fund Special Notes were produced by the Bureau. There were many discrepancies in the stamps and currency. This opened an investigation and a tremendous amount of time into the research. Samples include:

• A man who insisted the portrait of Lincoln on the $5 bill must have been printed in reverse because Lincoln parted his hair on the left side, not the right. After much correspondence, several trips to museums and the Smithsonian Institute including a study of the Lincoln death mask all revealed that Lincoln’s mole and part were indeed on the same side of his face, on the right.

• On the Pony Express Stamp of 1941, many have insisted that the wrong saddle was on the pony.

• Some have said that on the Gold Star Mother Stamp of 1948 showed a Russian star.

• The Little America Stamp of 1933 had the continents on it that some would argue were misplaced.

• One man insisted that the word “Anniversary” on the 1952 Gutenberg Bible Stamp was misspelled.

In each of these occurrences and many more, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing proved conclusively that the designs depicted were correct.

Japan, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand’s Currency Falls

Friday, March 6th, 2009

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Japan’s yen will fall to 102 to the U.S.’s dollar as of tomorrow. The yen had been as strong as 87.12 to the dollar in January and has lost 8.8% since then. The forecast calls for the yen to fall 4% more in the next 3 months. Mexico’s peso has dropped 32% since September. The peso is 16th out of the top 16 most-traded currencies, showing the largest drop and the worst performance also since September. For the fourth week in a row, Australia and New Zealand’s dollars fell against the U.S. dollar. The dollars also fell against the yen. Australia’s economy shrank in the fourth quarter and grew less than expected in January. What is going on here?

Though misery loves company, I don’t think we (by “we” I mean the United States) would wish our economical woes on any other country. So is our economy falling because of the currency issues in foreign countries or are they failing because of our falling dollar and failing stocks?

Because the yen and other Japanese accounts are declining, their investors started and continue to purchase foreign securities. In February, the yen had its worst monthly drop in 13 years, and Japan’s overseas stocks and bonds rose to record numbers. At the same time, Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso’s disapproval rating also rose to record highs. Carry trades could have helped Japan borrow foreign currencies with low interest rates and invest in nations with high borrowing costs. Don’t think that the U.S. is safe because our big investors could start purchasing foreign securities also, starting this whole downward spiral.

Mexico’s peso fell 1.4% to the U.S. dollar after an announcement of the country’s currency commission regarding changes to the foreign-exchange auction system. Yesterday the peso was down another 1% to 15.39 to the U.S. dollar. The same currency commission said it will offer to buy $100 million worth of pesos a day in order to guarantee that the central bank’s projected foreign reserve accumulation is sold. Even high ranking Mexican officials say that this will not be enough to jump start Mexico’s economy and failing peso. Mexico is in a state just below panic at this time and if things continue falling, the U.S. is going to have to step in before this goes too far. Just like any other nation, the United States could end up like this at any moment.

Australia has an overall negative dynamic which will be the main issue pushing their dollar lower. The Aussie dollar fell from a value of 64.3 U.S. cents two days ago, to 63.9 U.S. cents yesterday. Even New Zealand is feeling the pain, their dollar falling from 50.2 U.S. cents to 49.8 cents yesterday.

The thing to remember is for one, we are not the only ones feeling this bite of economical downfall. Different countries are hurting to different extents and in slightly different ways, but we can all empathize because if we’re not there, we have been or know we will be. Besides focusing on rebuilding the United States’ economy, we have to remember that the world will follow. This is not the first time we have seen crises and it won’t be the last. Your best weapon in this battle is staying informed and using that knowledge to the fullest.

Dollarization in Foreign Economies

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

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dollarizationThe term “Dollarization” is when the inhabitants of a country use foreign currency along with (or in place of) their own domestic currency.  Dollarization is not only applied to usage of the United States Dollar, but generally to the use of any other country’s foreign currency as the accepted currency.  Some other currencies that are widely accepted outside of their issuing country of origin are:  the Euro, the South African Rand, the Russian Ruble, and both the New Zealand and Australian Dollars.  For today, however, we’ll focus primarily on the United States Dollar.

Dollarization has never really received much attention, due to the fact that it was generally believed to be politically impossible until 1999, when Jamil Mahuad (then President of Ecuador) attempted official Dollarization through economic reforms of Ecuador’s economy.  He declared a freeze on the country’s bank accounts, in an attempt to control inflation.  This economic plan ultimately lead to a military coup and Mahuad was ousted from office.

Since that time, there have been several other countries that have considered and implemented it as that country’s official policy.  El Salvador, for example, officially adopted the United States dollar in 2001.

Dollarization can fall into three basic categories:

1.  Official Dollarization:  The dollar is the only legal tender, officially adopted, and there is no local currency.  Some examples of countries where this has happened are:  Panama, El Salvador, and Ecuador.  Since their independence in 1903, for example, Panama has used only the United States Dollar exclusively.

This reduces the foreign country’s economic risk, providing a secure, stable economic environment.  These generally tend to be “developing” countries, with transitional economies, especially those with high inflation.

Amazingly enough, the United States Government does not have to provide approval to allow for another country to use its currency as legal tender.

2.  Unofficial Dollarization:  This occurs when private agents, generally in private transactions, prefer the foreign currency over the domestic currency. They might hold, for example, deposits in the foreign currency because of a bad track record of the local currency.  The practice might be widely accepted in that country, but is not classified as “legal tender” by the country’s government.

This can sometimes occur in countries where the United States Dollar has become more prevalent in circulation than the country’s own local currency.  This can be difficult to reverse.

3.  Semi-Dollarization:  Also known as a “Bimonetary System”, foreign currency is legal tender, but plays a role secondary to domestic currency.  Both the United States Dollar and the country’s own currency are used interchangeably.  Cambodia and Lebanon are two countries that practice this, for example.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to Dollarization for a country.

The advantages would be:  Fiscal discipline, resulting in lower inflation and financial stability.  This results in business being easier to conduct within that country, due to the resulting “peace of mind“.  The United States Dollar, for example, has never been devalued, nor has the United States’ notes ever been invalidated.  For a country that has had a past history of bank failures, devaluation and inflation, the temptation of adopting the United States Dollar is strong.

Some disadvantages would be:  Loss of control by the local government, as they lose power and control over inflation and fiscal policy.

It has been estimated that approximately 40-60% of existing United States currency circulates outside of the U.S.  This estimate has been further reinforced by the actions of the U.S. Government, which produced posters and pamphlets between 2003 and 2006, outlining the new look and anti-counterfeiting features of the “New” United States bills in an ASTOUNDING 24 LANGUAGES!

So, the next time you travel outside of the United States and encounter U.S. Currency, or even the next time you pull a Dollar out of your wallet, beaten and worn, looking like it has been “Around the World”, ask yourself:  Where has it been, What countries it has seen,  and how many different hands it has been exchanged through?

To find out where YOUR dollar has been, please visit our FREE Online Dollar Tracking System by clicking on “Enter a Dollar Bill” on the menu above!

The Color of Money: Why is a Greenback Green?

Monday, February 9th, 2009

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greenbackIn 1929, when the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing introduced the small-size note, that we currently use today, green pigment was readily available in large quantities.  The color was relatively resistant to physical and chemical changes, and the color was viewed to be psychologically identified with the security and strength of the United States Government.

More importantly, this newly developed ink had protective qualities that could not be easily “lifted” from the note itself, which had been a favorite technique of counterfeiters in the past.  Since the mid-1800’s, it had been customary to print bills in black, with different slight variants of color.  When photographed, the color variants would show only in black, since early cameras could only photograph in black.  Not to be outdone, the counterfeiter soon discovered that they could remove the colored elements from the Bill, photograph the remaining black ink elements, make copies, and then overprint an imitation of the colored parts on the newly made copies.

A new solution was needed, and was quickly developed. The development, as well as the patent purchase for this ink, was by Tracy R. Edson, who later Founded the American Banknote Company, one of the same firms that produced the first currency used by the United States.

The faces of these early notes that were produced under contract were printed with the newly patented green tinted protective ink.

When printing with oil-base type inks, like the new “patent green,” it is not unusual for the color to show through to the opposite side of the sheet.  Therefore, the backs of early notes were printed in a darker shade of green to make the “strike through” of the tint less obvious.

The transition to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing was gradual, so the backs of the notes produced there during the intervening period were continued to be printed in green for the sake of uniformity.

Once the Bureau was in full-scale production, there was no reason to change the traditional color, and it was only logical that the practice continue.

Thus, the “greenback” was born!

The Bureau currently uses a technique called “Intaglio Printing,” which involves a revolving plate, filled with the grooves containing the design and wording.  These grooves are filled with ink and then wiped clean on the surface.  The paper is forced with approximately 20 tons of pressure onto the plate, picking up the ink contained within the finely recessed lines and grooves, leaving the surface of the newly printed currency with a slightly “raised” feel, while the reverse has a slightly indented feel.

Thanks to new technology introduced in the last few years, the newly redesigned, recently introduced United States Currency features some new splashes of color on the various denominations, using an “Optically Variable Ink” (or OVI).  This ink allows a shift in color variation when held at different angles.

A copy machine, for example, scans a document at ONE FIXED ANGLE, relative to the bill’s angle when placed on the glass, thus not picking up the color shift.

This ink, produced by a Swiss company called SIPCA, is not readily available and thus aids in deferring counterfeiting.

So, the next time you reach in your wallet and pull out a Greenback, you’ll know why it’s green!

What Happens to Defaced Currency?

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

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defaced currencyIt is illegal to purposely deface, mutilate, impair, diminish, falsify, scales or lightens any coins minted or “coined” in the United States of America. However, the U.S. government will replace worn out or damaged money if three-fifths of it is still identifiable. Two-fifths will earn the bearer half the face value; less than that gets nothing. Every year, the U.S. Treasury handles over 30,000 claims of destroyed or badly damaged currency. But what happens to money that becomes unrecognizable or “mutilated” through unintentional means?

There are numerous ways that currency can become “mutilated”. The most common causes are fire, water, chemicals, explosives, animal, insect, or rodent damage, and deterioration from burying paper currency. If more than half of the money is identifiable and evidence relating to what happened to the remainder of the money indicates that it was completely destroyed, it is possible for money to be replaced however, special steps must be taken to ensure the authenticity of the currency and the condition of the remaining portions of the paper bills. Special experts are employed by the Treasury Department to examine mutilated currency. These individuals carefully investigate all mutilated money received and are responsible for okaying the writing of a Treasury check for the value of the currency as they determine to be redeemable.

It is important to note that paper money can become badly soiled, defaced, disintegrated, worn, and torn through the ordinary exchange of hands. If more than half of the original note is left and special examination of the note is not required, the money is not considered mutilated. These funds can be taken directly to a bank and exchanged for a replacement. The money is then sent to the Federal Reserve Bank to be exchanged for new bills. The serial numbers of the worn-out money are recorded and then the bills are destroyed. Damaged coins are returned to the Treasury for re-minting, meaning they melt them down to make new coins.  Mutilated currency however needs to be mailed or delivered to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C., with a letter indicating the estimated value of the currency and an explanation of how the currency became mutilated. Special care should be taken to ensure that the bills are left in the same condition they were in when found.

While it is comforting to know that there are measures in place to protect currency from losing it’s value through unintentional mutilation or defacement, one should take every precaution possible to protect our currency. After all, as taxpayers, we do pay for the minting and printing of all currency and coinage in the United States. Try to keep money safe by avoiding letting your wallet run through the washing machine, or leaving money lying around where it can be damaged. Also, please don’t write on bills ad this may cause them not to work in vending machines or not to be accepted meaning they will need to be replaced sooner than ordinary.

Has Las Vegas Luck Run Out?

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

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dollar vegasThe current global recession is affecting cities across the globe. With the holidays fast approaching, many thoughts ordinarily turn to travel. But on the brink of a global recession, many families are staying put and avoiding costs wherever possible. No stranger to holiday travel, the thought of spending the holidays at home just didn’t seem right to me. Several months ago, I found a great deal on airfare and now I plan to embark upon a trip to the once a recession-proof oasis of Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s right, Sin City! But it seems that even Vegas can’t seem to escape this recession.

Over the years, Las Vegas has grown as speeds so fast that even frequent visitors had trouble keeping up with the growth. Conventions and the entertainment industry have made this desert oasis and beacon for global tourism. In fact, since the 1970s, Las Vegas has remained recession proof. Yet one question, remains on the minds of most Las Vegas Loyalists, “how will this recession affect Sin City”?

Veteran Vegas travelers, my spouse and I are no strangers to the Las Vegas Lights. This trip however, we expect to be a little different. Not only did we receive drastic discounts on airfare and hotel rooms, we’re still plan to make changes on our own in order to protect our nest egg. We’re packing a little lighter to avoid airline luggage fees and leaving more cash at home than we ordinarily would. We were able to score a great room at the Bellagio with a view of the fountains for less than we paid for a room at the same hotel without the view of the fountains back in August. However, one thing I’m quite confident of, the slot machines and the lights will still be on the gambling capital of the world when we arrive this week.  We’ve already purchased tickets to see two well-known shows on the strip and there were no discounts available on those.

In a city where money will get you whatever your heart desires, it’s difficult to imagine Las Vegas not incurring some sort of substantial slow-down in the days and months to come. With tourism as the nearly sole industry in this desert city, Las Vegas is known for its growth and expansion. Already, over 20,000 construction jobs have dried up in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has launched a new $12 million three-month national campaign in order to attempt to entice conventions to Las Vegas and the dollars spent within them. The city’s convention business has been slipping in recent months as several annual conventions have seen fewer attendees and shorter stays among those that are attending.

So how will our upcoming trip to Las Vegas fair in the midst of a recession? Only time will tell. There’s still a lot to do in Vegas that doesn’t involve gambling. You can bet that we will take advantage of the “Duece’s” public transit line offering $5 bus fare all the way down the strip and onto Freemont Street. We’ll take in our shows, gawk at the Bellagio fountain and enjoy the free laser-light display on Freemont over three blocks of roof covering the street.

United States Secret Service’s Role in Currency Counterfeit Prevention

Monday, December 15th, 2008

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US Secret ServiceMost ordinary U.S. citizens might not associate the Secret Service with our Nation’s currency. In fact, perhaps one of the best known services of the United States Secret Service is protecting our nation’s leaders, especially the President. However, the Secret Service plays a vital role in protecting our currency and in turn, our economy. Currently a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service is responsible for two very distinct areas of responsibility. First, and notably the most well-known, Secret Service Agents serve in protective roles as to preserve the safely of our nation’s leaders and their families. Second, and less publically noted, the Secret Service is responsible for the prevention and investigation of crimes involving US currency and treasury bonds.

In 1865, the U.S. Secret Service was first established for the specific purpose of combating the counterfeiting of money.  At the time, it was reported that one-third to one-half of all the currency in circulation in the U.S. was counterfeit. In fact, in the midst of the Civil War, with somewhere around 7,000 different bills in circulation, it became almost impossible to detect a counterfeit bill from a legitimate one. Therefore, the United States Secret Service was born in order to prevent any further damage to the nation’s struggling economy.  

In 1967, the agency took on additional responsibilities which included investigating those suspected of perpetrating frauds against the government and also served other role of investigating a broad range of crime areas including everything from robberies, murders, the Ku Klux Klan, non-conforming distillers, land fraud, smugglers all the way to illegal gambling.  

Today, the Secret Service is now a division of the Department of Homeland of Security and although the roles assumed by the Secret Service in its early days have since been passed on to other agencies including the FBI, ATS, and IRS, the Secret Service retains primary jurisdiction over all areas of counterfeit U.S. currency and treasury notes as well as its special duty of protecting the president, first lady, and other U.S. dignitaries. The agency also tracks suspicious individuals and steps in to access local crimes when necessary.

One of the oldest crimes in our nation’s history is counterfeit money. Although today’s money has many more preventative measures in place to protect our currency, counterfeiting remains a very real danger for our nation’s economy. In fact, due to modern technologies available to thieves, such as photographic and printing equipment, it has become easier and easier for thieves to commit counterfeiting fraud, therefore, requiring the Secret Service in combination with the U.S. Mint to enact more and more security features into our nation’s currency.

Due to the nature of its role, many details surrounding the Secret Service are kept “secret”. Many of the agents’ identities are kept confidential for their own protection as well as the protection of their job duties. In fact, even the wives and families of some secret service agents do not know their husbands and fathers as Secret Service Agents. Whereas, many agencies require uniforms of their agents, the Secret Service uniforms are designed to blend in with the role they are performing and can range from tuxedos to business suits to jeans.

In conclusion, the United States Secret Service plays a crucial role in the safety of our nation. It protects some of the most important persons in our nation all the way from the President and First Family, to other political figures and embassies. However, its role in protecting our currency is perhaps as crucial to our economy as any other role assumed by the agency. 

A Backyard Full of CASH???

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

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dollar cash goldAs we enter into what is expected to be one of the largest recessions in our nation’s history, individuals throughout the United States are faced with the question: “what should I do with my money”? During the Great Depression, many individuals hid cans of coins in their backyards due to their mistrust of the banking institutions. More and more individuals have lost confidence in our current banking system and have begun to question the safety of one of their most safely guarded possessions: money. But what is the best way to protect one’s cash?

Over the years, we’ve all heard of random places to hide money: under the bed, in the freezer, buried in the backyard, in the Bible but where is the best place to put it? My grandmother hid cash for years in the back of her closet between some old quilts that were never used. No one knew about this until after the passed. My husband’s grand-father hid his money throughout his home. He told his widow from his deathbed to throw nothing away in that house without fully going through it. Still to the day, she’ll be going through some old book or other item and stumble upon a $100 bill. Perhaps this was his way of always making sure she was taken care of, but more than likely; he felt it was safer than putting his money in a bank. A close family friend is said to have “millions” of dollars buried in his backyard under a fig tree and while I don’t know if it’s true or not, it does make for a good legend. I’ve often wondered if upon his death, anyone will visit his backyard with a shovel to look for buried treasure!

Of course, burying cash in the backyard is nothing new. During the Great Depression Era, it was common for folks to make “treasure maps” and place their valuables in the ground in coffee cans or old metal boxes. Today a “Ziploc” brand bag, placed in a piece of PVC pipe is a common way to bury cash five feet into the ground. In fact, there’s even an “invention” floating around on eBay called the “Midnight Gardner”. The device is actually a simple twelve by four inch capped, watertight PVC pipe which is said to hold as much as $4,000 in gold, silver, or cash.

Is it a good idea to bury cash? Some say it’s not as the paper money will lose value due to inflation. These individuals recommend investing in gold bullion and burying that as it will hold it value better than cash. There are those that say if the economy got to the point that money invested in banks was gone, that paper money would hold no value either. Others still insist that burying money/gold/etc is a bad idea because it can be easily forgotten or lost. Then, there are those that say that any attempt at “playing it safe” and pulling money out of the economy only worsens the effect of the recession.

In the end, I’m of the opinion that what to do with money is a personal decision and should be made by each individual with regards to what they feel is the safest route for them. As for me, I’ve got a personal stock of cash that I’m seeking a place to hide away for a “rainy day”.