This is a story of the history of gold and silver buying — in all its shady and manipulative splendor — from someone who got their start in the Seventies.
Priceonomics has a brief history of fake movie money, and the problems that come with it.
I remember when I was a kid we went to Fort Detroit and I bought a little envelope with artificially-aged reprints of old U.S. and Confederate money inside. I know a lot of other tourist-traps sold this stuff, and over the years it has apparently lost the connection to souvenir status and people think they’ve got the real thing. Check this list before getting excited about your Confederate money: it’s likely to be a souvenir reprint like mine.
A college student has been arrested for counterfeiting, after being caught with $13,000 in fake $100 bills. They were verified as counterfeit because each was signed by “Moe Money”, the “Proprietor of Counterfeiting”.
Coins might not be precious metals anymore, but they seem to be more “money-like” than paper bills. Plus, they come from the Mint, not the Treasury, so they’re more closely tied to specie money than a greenback. So it’s quite a surprise when people get arrested for paying for things with nothing but coins:
A Chinese couple were arrested in Paris, France, for paying their hotel bill entirely with Euro coins. In fact, they were paying for everything in Euro coins, which aroused suspicion and the hotel called the police. There was nothing illegal about paying for things in coin, of course, but the hotel thought they had discovered a counterfeit ring who were too dumb to not hide their operations. Turns out, the couple were salvaging coins from junked cars, and had saved up for a nice trip. I hope the arrest was only a slight detour.
Scrapped Euros are actually a problem: Euros are “destroyed” by separating the bi-metal contents, but entrepreneurs in China have been buying the components and reassembling them into “genuine” coins. They still count as counterfeit, but they defeat most detection so the French hoteliers were right to be a little bit suspicious.
A Utah man found himself on the wrong side of the law for paying a $25 medical bill — in pennies. Once again, the pennies weren’t the problem: the man was cited for disorderly conduct because, well, he was doing it just to be a dick. Others have done it successfully, well, sorta, so much that it has attracted the attention of Snopes.
So, the moral of the story is: there’s nothing wrong with paying for things entirely in coin, but you’re going to attract attention — so be prepared for the fallout.
Some funny money has appeared in the pockets of Swedish consumers. It, at first glance, is a normal krona, until you read the text on the obverse. Rather than identifying the effigy as Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, it identifies him as “Our Whore Of A King”. Now, them’s fighting words in most monarchies, but this is Sweden, where a disapproving scowl is one of the harshest legal punishments on the books, and also…well…King Gustaf is sort of a whorer, as it were. It’s good to be the king, I suppose, but when your subjects go through the effort of minting reasonable duplicates of your national currency to protest your sexcapades, it might be a good idea to tone things down a bit.
Counterfeiting Swedish coins isn’t a common practice, so if you want my educated opinion I’d say that these were made as an artistic statement, without intent to be sold or distributed, but their closeness to the real thing got them into the wrong pocket and inadvertently into circulation. If they were meant as a genuine protest, they’d be out there, and more identifiably a token than a coin of value.