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1st-Aug-2006 02:23 pm
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 and dime.)

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)
£1 (coin)
£2 (coin) Thanks, jaq
total: 10 11 denominations

Exactly 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)?
1st-Aug-2006 01:30 pm (UTC)
> how often do you see the English £50

IME pretty much never; certainly not in regular use.
1st-Aug-2006 01:35 pm (UTC)
I don't remember ever seeing a Scottish note in circulation in England.
1st-Aug-2006 01:31 pm (UTC)
btw -

Not sure about the "interlocking triangles" you mentioned on the masonic building - I don't see anything familiar. There is a masonic group calle Tall Cedars of Lebanon in the USA which has an emblem ov three connected pyramids, but I don't think they exist over there.
1st-Aug-2006 01:45 pm (UTC)
I keep meaning to go in and ask, but usually it's about 8pm or so and no one's there. :)
Thanks anyway, though.
1st-Aug-2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
I think it's useful having different sized notes. Perhaps it's just what you're used to. I can see it is more confusing in Scotland with the various different banks' notes though.

I have had a £50 note on perhaps two or three occasions. Not something we see very often. But I don't think I've seen any $100 bills either. I rarely have more than about £40 in cash since I don't feel safe with it.
1st-Aug-2006 01:38 pm (UTC)
I hardly ever see $50s and $100s here outside of the rare occassion where I'm at a bar and people want to show off...
1st-Aug-2006 01:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, and you missed out the £2 coin.
1st-Aug-2006 01:42 pm (UTC)
*facepalm* You're right.

By the way, the new ones...what does the Brendel or whatever it says mean?
1st-Aug-2006 01:43 pm (UTC)
I know that blind people often fold different denominations differently in their wallets (with the help of a seeing person). They might fold their fives in half long-ways, their tens in quarters and their twenties in half the opposite way - or something like that.

In just the brief time I spent in Scotland a couple years ago I noticed that I accumilated a great bit of change in my pockets. I can see where it would be difficult to adjust for a US-born person to have all that change all the time.

Are debit cards as prevelant there? I know since I first acquired my debit card I have used a lot less cash period.
1st-Aug-2006 01:47 pm (UTC)
Definitely. I'd say I use my debit card twice as much.

I read a bit about the money folding on the interwebs, I could see that it would work. However, I think it would be nice for them to immediately tell. Then again, I'd like a pony too and that's not happened yet. :)
1st-Aug-2006 01:58 pm (UTC)
When I lived in Northern Ireland and wanted to travel to England, I had to get all my NI bank notes (Ulster Bank, Northern Bank, Bank of Ireland, etc) changed to Bank of England as NI notes weren't accepted anywhere. You can use Scottish notes in Northern Ireland though, I believe. I always liked how colorful UK money was - American money is getting colorful but that pink/orange they use on $20's is nauseating.
1st-Aug-2006 02:06 pm (UTC)
I agree! It looks like baby sick!

I've not had trouble getting the Scottish notes taken in England, but Tom's said that it used to be quite difficult.

I saw a NI bill for the first time last week. Always something new around here. :)
1st-Aug-2006 02:02 pm (UTC)
The money here drives me crazy. I HATE that there are no £1 notes. Hate it! £1 coins are really heavy and you end up with a pocket full of change here very easily just because there isn't a pound note. We have so much damn change around here all the time. I've never seen so much change in my life. I miss only have 4 types of coins to deal with.

I don't like the different sized notes either. I like how you can stack up your notes and fold them nicely in the States when they're all one size but it doesn't work quite as nice here. And, when I reach in my pocket to feel for a note, I can't tell if I have a note or a piece of paper in my hand. I know what a bill feels like in the States. It's funny though, my husband things that our bills in the US feel like regular paper.

This all sounded really bitchy. I didn't really mean for it to. lol
1st-Aug-2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
And in the other direction, I am sick and tired of these tatty little $1 bills, and want nothing more than a decent pocket full of change.
1st-Aug-2006 02:12 pm (UTC)
I think it feels like there is way more UK denominations because there are more coins.
1st-Aug-2006 02:27 pm (UTC) - PS
PS - I'm old enough to remember when we did have one pound notes (and half-penny coins, for that matter). I think there were still Scottish one pound notes after ours were taken out of circulation, but I've no idea when they stopped having them ;)
1st-Aug-2006 02:33 pm (UTC) - Re: PS
My Great-Aunt Nettie used to send us £1 notes in our birthday cards long after they stopped having £1 notes this far south. We'd always go 'oooh!', then get Mum to swap it for 'real money' ;)
1st-Aug-2006 02:32 pm (UTC)
£50 notes raise an eyebrow, and £100s are very rare indeed. I think I've only ever held a £100 note once. Unfortunately it wasn't mine. I think I've seen one £50 note in the the tills in the last 5 months.
1st-Aug-2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
I didn't think there was a Bank of England £100 note - only the Scottish and irish banks produce them
1st-Aug-2006 02:39 pm (UTC)
it also looks like there's more notes in Scotland because you have the three issuing banks plus bank of england notes.
1st-Aug-2006 02:53 pm (UTC)
Being USA born & bred, I'd have to say that I prefer the UK coins better than the US ones. My favorite is the 1 pound(haven't figured out how to get the pound sign on my US computer yet...please don't remind me how sad I am :-).) My UK change gets used a lot more than my US & I feel like I don't have to use as much of it to pay for something. In the US I always end up with a gazillion pennies & nothing else...I could be a female body builder if I had to carry that around all day to pay for things...not to mention how long it would take to count it out or the fact that I never want to look like a female body builder...I digress.
But the notes are pretty annoying for my husband cause they don't fit nice & neat in his wallet like the US money does. I just end up stuffing the notes in my wallet cause I hate having people stare at me at the counter impatiently waiting for me to hurry up and put my wallet away so they can buy their stuff & be on their way...maybe I just have a complex about it?
1st-Aug-2006 03:04 pm (UTC)
I don't know how to do the pound sign on a PC. On a mac, it's 'option+3'.

We all have a complex. It's not just you. :)
1st-Aug-2006 02:58 pm (UTC)
Y'know, the new ten is relatively ridiculous... I don't like this new colored crap. However, I do believe we should use the $1 coins more - so the notes don't get so worn out. Marn's right, they feel like crap sometimes.

The Euro system pissed me off - I used to spend my 1 and 2 euros really fast - they're coins, so they're not worth as much. Right.

Maybe that's what's really getting to you.
1st-Aug-2006 03:03 pm (UTC)
Y'know, it could be. I'm used to spending change without thought, because the most change I end up with in my pocket is $2.25 or something. Here, I can easily think of times I've had £13 in my pocket and spending that is a lot really.
1st-Aug-2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
there are not many £50 notes in circulation as cash machines don't give them out and thats where most people get there cash from. my parents sometimes have £50's as they actually go into the bank to get cash at the same time as doing other transactions.

I have however had both £50 and £100 pounds notes, however the £100 pound notes was when i was taking cash from one bank to open an account somewhere else so asked for it in as large notes as they had so it wasn't obvious i was carrying lots of cash.
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