Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Real Value of Money

I don't really know a lot about my family history. I believe my Grandad went some way back into the family tree on my fathers side but I have never seen it and he died before I was old enough to be interested. On my mothers side I have a copy of the tree going back to 1781 but by far the most interesting aspect is that one of my great great (great...) grandparents was a Miss Venus. There are some great names and it is weird to think that I have a Patience Bumstead in my line (born in 1800 and who lived to the incredible age of 84 years at a time before central heating and modern drugs).

I have been given a whole pile of old coins from my mother who has had them in a box for years. They span back through the family and include a Queen Victoria One Penny dated 1897, through Edward V, George V and VI, some African coins from my heritage, and some coins so aged as to almost illegible but certainly early 1800's. One particularly odd one is an American Indian Head Nickel which is so worn I cannot read the date but it is between 1913 and 1938, according to Wikipedia.

USA Buffalo Coin

I have no idea where it came from and my guess would be either during the First World War but sadly I cannot ask. I see these things trade at reasonable prices with collectors looking for mint examples in vacuum sealed cases but I think the value is in the story attached to such a coin. I'll imagine that a young relative travelled on a great journey and brought this back as a memento. Certainly something to hand down to my grandchildren one day.....who'll probably pawn it and dance on my grave!

Either way, hopefully they'll wonder at the 1968 Kenya Ten cents and the Tanzania Five Shillings from 1972 and be curious about my life; they might also wonder at the New Zealand 1962 One Florin (that I got in my change the other day) which feels like real money (unlike the new coins). After all, those loose coins in the back of your drawer are like a piece of personal history recounting the places you've been and things you've seen. I guess plastic will take over the world eventually but until then the real value of money is in the journey made to get it.

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