I was down at a bbq not too long ago, and somehow the conversation turned to American money. (I think it may have been in reference to ybunny
's inability to remember what 5¢ and 10¢ pieces are called. FYI: nickel
I was asked how the blind determine what denomination of US paper money they have, if all the bills are the same. British money is differentiated by sizes.
This is a question that I was interested in looking into, because frankly, I miss the US paper money. I find the lack of £1 notes irritating, not the least because I end up with 5lbs of change in my pockets at times, but also because I'm just used to it. I inevitably mix up the £5 notes with my receipts, because in my mind, they are too small to be cash. I confuse the £10 and £20 notes on a regular basis, mainly because there seems to be about 5 different colors of £10 notes here...and more importantly, none of the colors are total colors in any case (i.e. the 'blue' notes also have brown and black and tan coloring on them).
All US paper currency used to be off white and money green. That was it. I believe that they instituted a few color items (serial numbers? anyone else remember the ones that only had a bit of red on the field?), but for the most part it was green. They were a simple design and since all of them were set up the same way, to determine the denomination, you could ignore everything else as your eye wasn't drawn to it, look at the corner, and voila! a 1/5/10/20/50/100 dollar bill.
More recently, the Mint has changed the 100, then 50, then 20, then 10, and now the 5 (
yes, it's happened already?
Nevermind, it's meant to be 2008) include colors in addition to the money green.
This, and the high contrast numbers on the backs are meant to aid the vision impaired. However, there still isn't a way to tell the bills apart for the blind.
Maybe they've already thought of this, but why not vary the counterfeiting strips? I know that the $20s at least have a strip running from top to bottom sandwiched into the paper-cloth amalgamation. Why not make the strips dashed for the $10s, double for the $50s, treble for the $100s and missing on the $5 (which don't have them now in anycase)? I'd be willing to give in and back a $1 coin if we could get the rest of this sorted.
I really don't like the idea of differently sized notes. Besides, the logistics of changing the things needed to have anything bigger or significantly smaller would be daunting.
On a completely separate note, I used to think that there was a lot more denominations of both coin and paper money in the UK compared to the US.
On a regular
everyman basis (can I make that any clearer? I'm not talking about the exceptions to this...) you see
(in the US)
$50 (somewhat less)
total: 10 denominations
(in the UK)
£2 (coin) Thanks, jaq
Almost the same. The only explanation I have is that every day expenses are less numerically (though not in intrinsic worth) and so the bigger bills aren't used as often.
I could be wrong. There could be a change fetish that no one's clued me in on.
Question for UK
residents: how often do you see the English £50, the Scottish £50 or 100 (any bank)?