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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 24, June 11, 2000, Article 9

LINCOLN, THREE BITS, AND A HEADACHE 

   The following note is from "A Treasury of White House Tales" by 
   Webb Garrison (Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, TN, 1996)  It 
   mentions a purchase in what seems like a very odd amount today. 
   But at a time when use of Spanish silver coins was not uncommon, 
   these odd denominations were commonplace.  The Spanish Milled 
   Dollar was valued at 8 reales; two reales equaled one-fourth of a 
   dollar, thus the nickname "two bits" for a quarter.  The following 
   denominations were seen frequently:  6 1/4 cents (half bit),  12 
   1/2 cents (one bit), 25 cents (two bits), 37 1/2 cents (three bits). 

      "Abraham Lincoln, who often complained about severe 
       headaches after reading for three or four hours, purchased 
       eyeglasses in Bloomington, Illinois, for 37 1/2 cents.  Years 
       later, examination showed that they were at least three times 
       more powerful than needed." 

   All the better for reading fine print in bills from Congress, 
   I suppose.  Perhaps that's why the Gettysburg address was 
   so short... 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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