Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Grocery Store Artifact: Defaced Money

In any retail environment that is not web-based relatively small amounts of money circulates around the store. Less cash than a bank, thousands of times more than a comic store, the money comes from all over and is in various states of condition.

The coins may be dirty or sticky and I see lots of bills with writing or bearing ink from a rubber stamps. One of the frequent stampings I see is from those people who participate in the on-line Where's George? bill-tracking project. It's novel and can be fun for adults and children interested in the wandering paths our nation's money takes. You can even get a Google map that shows where the money has been.

While defacing currency is technically illeagal, the Treasury Department doesn't usually consider stamps or other writing as vandalism. Often in commercially-related or charity ventures the Treasury authorizes companies to change the face of some bills in a limited and non-permanent fashion, such as the 'Bunny Bucks' and 'Santa Dollars' sold at some stores during the holidays. More recently, the prettier Gena Davis replaced George Washington on the dollar bill to promote her show 'Commander In Chief'. The 'Ugly Money' featured on the Johnny Burrito site may be pushing it though.

I've seen phone numbers and lists and other notes on currency. Other stamps I see are flowers, smiley faces and even foreign language phrases.

Not long ago I noticed a $100 bill that had a stamp on it. I guess it's a foreign phrase but I have no idea what it means. It also isn't the only one I've seen with a similar stamp lately. I'm interested in finding out if it is the equivalent to the 'Where's George?' and if it says something like 'Where's The Infidels?'. The stamp could just mean 'Have A Nice Day' or 'Boycott Lettuce', I don't know.

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