Monday, October 12, 2009

Thematic Photographic 70: "Hard" v.6.0 - Hard Money

"Hard-Earned Dollar"
Raleigh, NC - October 2009 (Click to embiggen)

Thematic Photographic hosted by Carmi - Button Image by Smarmoofus (Normally) Hosted by Written Inc.

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The phrase "cold hard cash" is sometimes said to be derived from the term "hard money" which dates back to (depending on who you listen to) either the Civil War or even the American Revolution. The term was used to describe money minted in gold or silver rather than currency backed by those metals. In Colonial America, popular wisdom was that it took a wagonload of currency to buy a wagonload of bread. Faith in the currency's backing was thin, and there was simply more currency in circulation than gold to redeem it. In the Civil War-era south, the same economic circumstance surfaced, with the problem compounded by each of the 13 Confederate States issuing its own currency in the form of "demand notes" with no central reserve to control the circulation of paper money, and no guarantees that paper money minted in one state could be redeemed in another. Confidence in the currency of the Confederacy waned to the point where if you didn't get paid in "hard money", you weren't being paid.

And apparently at some point in the not so distant past, the US mint began circulating "hard dollar coins" (again). Historically, one-dollar coins have never been popular in the US, even though in other developed nations equivalent denominations are only available in coin. There have been a number of attempts to replace the one-dollar note with coin over the years -- the most recent mainstream push being the Susan B. Anthony dollar of the late 70's. The "SBA Dollar" was heavily promoted, even to the point of pinball machines/video games awarding an extra play for the use of the dollar coin. Despite this effort, the SBA Dollar never became popular (probably because it was almost indistinguishable from a quarter at a glance and was often recognized as such by vending machines -- depriving the consumer of 75 cents value). More recently the Sacajawea dollar and Presidential dollar coins have seen limited production, but the coin you see here was dispensed by the change machine in a parking garage in downtown Raleigh, meaning this coin is in mainline production. You'd think this would be bigger news (or maybe I just wasn't paying attention in class that day). With the larger denomination notes ($5 and up) being replaced by harder-to-counterfeit editions, perhaps this is the Treasury Department's way of implementing anti-counterfeit measures for singles. (I'm speculating there, so don't cite me as a source.) At least the new golden (I suspect there's little or no actual gold in these) dollar won't be mistaken for a quarter, but unless vending machines are tooled to accept it, it's unlikely to be any more popular than its predecessors. Especially since there appears to be no plan to remove the one-dollar note from circulation.

Your Turn: Got a "Hard" photo to support this week's theme? Feel free to share a link in the comments. If you're new to Thematic Photographic or just wondering how this works, you can find out all about it here or better yet, at TP's usual home.

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