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The E-Sylum: Volume 23, Number 14, April 5, 2020, Article 36

HISTORY OF MONEY CLEANING

Ron Haller-Williams submitted these notes on "money laundering" in history. Thanks! -Editor

During the plagues of the 14th to 17th centuries, bowls (or hollowed stones) filled with vinegar were used to decontaminate the "filthy lucre", so that infection could not get passed on via money; banknotes were not in general use in those days!

"Money has no smell" ("Pecunia non olet", apparently from the emperor Vespasian. i.e. The value of money is not tainted by its origins. (But the trouble is that most money IS tainted - 'tain't yours and 'tain't mine!!!)

Posted on March 31st, the video "Lavando o dinheiro" ("washing money" or "money laundering") has a fairly quiet soundtrack, in Brazilian Portuguese, including the sentence "Un homen foi preso por lavagem de dinheiro" ("A man was arrested for money laundering")

I must admit that I've done a bit of this to improve the appearance of a few banknotes for my collection.

And, as if to prove Vespasian wrong, it was reported in May 2019 that "money with the smell of "Marijuana" sent some people to prison. Apparently the equivalent of about US$25,000 was deposited, but it smelled of "wacky 'baccy" (as some people call it), and this led to the arrests. If you look at the automatic translation (last link), please note that the Portuguese word "laranja" means "orange", but also "front" or "mule etc - a third party who is used in place of the real person involved.

Links:
Lavando o dinheiro (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2pnCI978nE)
Dinheiro com cheiro de maconha leva polícia a descobrir esquema de lavagem (https://g1.globo.com/jornal-nacional/noticia/2019/05/25/dinheiro-com-cheiro-de-maconha-leva-policia-a-descobrir-esquema-de-lavagem.ghtml)
"Marijuana-smelling money takes three people to prison in Curitiba" (https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=pt&u=https://www.gazetadopovo.com.br/curitiba/operacao-investiga-dinheiro-com-cheiro-de-maconha/&prev=search)

Ron's Vespasian note is based on an interesting Wikipedia article. Because of the Russian tokens we numismatists are familiar with the "beard tax". How about the "urine tax"? -Editor

A tax on the disposal of urine was first imposed by Emperor Nero under the name of "vectigal urinae" in the 1st century AD. The tax was removed after a while, but it was re-enacted by Vespasian around 70 AD in order to fill the treasury.

Vespasian imposed a Urine Tax (Latin: vectigal urinae) on the distribution of urine from public urinals in Rome's Cloaca Maxima (great sewer) system. (The Roman lower classes urinated into pots which were emptied into cesspools.) The urine collected from public urinals was sold as an ingredient for several chemical processes. It was used in tanning, wool production, and also by launderers as a source of ammonia to clean and whiten woollen togas. The buyers of the urine paid the tax.

The Roman historian Suetonius reports that when Vespasian's son Titus complained about the disgusting nature of the tax, his father held up a gold coin and asked whether he felt offended by its smell (sciscitans num odore offenderetur). When Titus said "No", Vespasian replied, "Yet it comes from urine" (Atqui ex lotio est).

The phrase Pecunia non olet is still used today to say that the value of money is not tainted by its origins. Vespasian's name still attaches to public urinals in France (vespasienne) and Italy (vespasiano).

To read the complete article, see:
Pecunia non olet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecunia_non_olet)

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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