Money From Travels, Not All Mine


“Yes, Mother?”

“Please teach [Good Man] how to cook.”

I laughed, “Mother, he is working all the time. He is too busy. He needs a wife. But we did get some food for the slow cooker, and I wrote down the recipes for him.”

“Good, good.”


“Do you have any won on your desk?”

“No,” Good Man replies.

“Really? I could go to your desk and I’d find no won?”

Good Man blinks at me. He’s been working the entire weekend. “You go look.”

I smile and dump my makeup case of foreign coins on the table. “Sit,” I said to Good Man, “help me find the won.”

Good Man shakes his head, “You do not need help, you are good at finding money.”

I pick the won out from the euro, the Swedish kronor, the Vietnamese dong (which I seem to recall were illegal to leave the country with at the time I acquired them), Thai baht. Out come the dollars—Canadian and Hong Kong, the Costa Rican colones, the yen.

Those, I know how I got.

But I wonder how the 1929 Canadian penny ended up in my hands. I have a Deutsche Mark I found on a run (a few years after Germany switched over to the euro), and a pfennig, too. I’ve got some money from the Philippines, though I’ve never been there. I have quite a few pence. I have a coin from Iceland featuring a bull on one side and a cuttlefish on the other. I had a New Zealand something or other, but I think I accidentally used it in a vending machine and lost it the same way I got it.

A few weeks ago I opened up a roll of quarters from the bank. In my roll of US quarters was a Panamanian quarter, which seemed to be the same size, weight, color and composition as a US quarter. I did some research and it turns out Panama’s coins are based on US currency. In fact, we used to make Panama’s coins for them. So the quarter is the same size, weight, color, and composition.

I count out my Korean money and slide the rest of the coins into my makeup case. Perhaps I’ll use them in the future. Perhaps they’ll collect dust. Maybe I’ll sell them for scrap when the world economy collapses.