Money isn’t just coins or bills. It has a history that dates back many centuries and has generated literally thousands of stories.
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 acquire debt and find it hard to pay it 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 some fun and crazy facts about money you probably never knew.
In 1690 the Massachusetts Bay Colony issued the first paper money in would eventually become the United States
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
Cattle are the oldest form of money. Their use as money dates back to 9000 B.C. There are parts of Africa where cattle was used as money as late as the middle of the 20th century.
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.