« A Pot Calling The Percolator Black. | Main | Face Value »

May 30, 2019



Some years ago I gave away most of my foreign pelf to the chemistry library at UT Austin. I mean I gave it to the circulation desk, which had a glass counter, under which much quasi-money had been stuck. I don't know why, but a tradition had been established, and my contribution was instantly and happily accepted. It may still be there! I thought I might miss it. But the world has not run out of this stuff, and my personal collection was on later trips overseas fully rebuilt.

Unfortunately it also includes coins as well as bills, and those are always a disappointment. They aren't pretty or artistic in any sense; their metallurgy is so questionable I bet they don't even conduct electricity; and even if they were all exactly the same thickness, no one would dare use them to underpin a big piece of glass. The other day I came across what may be the worst, a 100-franci [sic] coin current in west Africa. At least Guinea-Bissauans honored it. What they called it was "xof," given the phonetic Portuguese pronunciation "shoffee," and this derives from XOF, the symbol used in teletyped lists of foreign currency exchange rates. It doesn't get more unromantic than that.


Thank you for the wonderful comment. My limited knowledge of Guinea-Bissau leads me to assume they would probably honor almost any currency you offer them. In my younger years, rather than paper bills, I'd collect coins from countries I visited in the belief that talismanic possession of said coins would guarantee a return trip.


One of my clients - a private investment company with HQ overseas and small NY branch - used to display series of banknotes mounted in expensive frames. The countries of origin symbolized periods in CO's history when when traded said currency - or had local investment clients.
Their same-floor neighbor in midtown office tower went further: they sandwiched a collection of similar banknotes between two ceiling-height plates of glass in reception, like a business card of sorts.
It made me more appreciative of my [too few] American dollars...


I have a great deal of admiration for investment bankers. The few I have known are among the most philosophical of my acquaintances. They didn’t seem to take money too seriously. A neat trick if you can afford it.


that should be "while you can afford it".
Fortuna - la donna e mobile


I'm getting a second job! (ha ha)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pepys' People

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 05/2004