"Chopmarks", overstamps and other graffiti on banknotes are perennial topics here in The E-Sylum. Here's a new one with a topical theme - the "Occupy" demonstrations in several American cities. This item from The Detroit News describes a dollar bill overstamps with a message supporting the movement.
I received a rather special $1 bill in change last week. On top of the familiar banknote image is a diagram that purports to show the disparity of wealth in the United States. The bill is divided in half with red ink, with "Richest 400 Americans" on one side and "Bottom 150,000,000 Americans" on the other.
The dollar had, evidently, been Occupied.
My first impulse was to roll my eyes at the politicization of our currency, and then to laugh the whole effort off. I have it on good authority that the average One Percenter never carries bills smaller than $100 - so in all likelihood, most Occupy-stamped bills wind up in the cash register at the local corporate coffeehouse.
Really, though, turning the supposed "root of all evil" into a tool of propaganda is a clever idea. As much as I disagree with the aims of the Occupy movement, they have been very effective at propagating their message (I'm talking about it right now, after all). Moreover, subversion can be fun, and this is perfectly legal - the overprints don't meet the criteria for currency defacement. There are several designs available for ready reproduction at OccupyGeorge.com. Some are factual, others are just snarky ("Future property of the 1%").
This is a campaign that the greedy capitalists of the world can learn from. Imagine similar currency stamps highlighting how much top earners pay in income tax - or showing how much of every dollar is consumed by bloated government. Ten-dollar bills might note that 80 percent of the world's population exists on less than $10 per day, putting many of the Occupiers uncomfortably near the ranks of the global One Percent.
I haven't seen any of these where I live, but I do wish a numismatist would locate one and donate it to the numismatic museum of their choice. I press this issue again and again in The E-Sylum - NOW is the time to be collecting contemporary numismatic items. Today's novelty item is tomorrow's rare and important historical artifact.
To read the complete article, see:
Kozak: Occupy Dollar Bil
Wayne Homren, Editor
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