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BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money

Barry Finn 04 Dec 06 - 04:31 PM
Rapparee 04 Dec 06 - 04:32 PM
Rapparee 04 Dec 06 - 04:33 PM
MMario 04 Dec 06 - 04:35 PM
Jeri 04 Dec 06 - 04:52 PM
artbrooks 04 Dec 06 - 05:19 PM
JohnInKansas 04 Dec 06 - 05:20 PM
catspaw49 04 Dec 06 - 07:48 PM
frogprince 04 Dec 06 - 08:16 PM
katlaughing 04 Dec 06 - 11:58 PM
frogprince 05 Dec 06 - 12:16 AM
The Fooles Troupe 05 Dec 06 - 08:27 AM
Geoff the Duck 05 Dec 06 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,thurg 05 Dec 06 - 08:45 AM
JohnInKansas 05 Dec 06 - 02:30 PM
beardedbruce 05 Dec 06 - 02:41 PM
Stilly River Sage 05 Dec 06 - 05:31 PM
Genie 05 Dec 06 - 06:02 PM
Amos 05 Dec 06 - 07:06 PM
Barry Finn 05 Dec 06 - 07:21 PM
The Fooles Troupe 05 Dec 06 - 07:25 PM

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Subject: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: Barry Finn
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 04:31 PM

My step father called a ten dollar bill a "Sawbuck"
A twenty he called a "Double Sawbuck"
A hundred dollar bill a "C note"
& a fifty he called a "half C note"

I never heard these terms except as a youngster from anyone except around my neighborhood (Misson Hill section of Roxbury which is an area within Boston, Mass.) & then only from friends or assocates of my step father.
My question is, does anyone else know on these or similar words used for discribing US paper currency during the 1920's trough to the 50's? I'm thinking it may have been common pre WWII or right in that time somewhere.

Thanks
Barry


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: Rapparee
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 04:32 PM

Sure did, living in West Central Illinois.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: Rapparee
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 04:33 PM

From what I've read, the designations came from the Roman numerals: X = 10 and looked like a sawbuck, XX = 20, C = 100, and so on.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: MMario
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 04:35 PM

Fin was a five dollar bill.

I heard all of Barry's terms used (rarely) and normally by the previous generation - growing up on Cape Cod.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: Jeri
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 04:52 PM

My dad, who grew up in NY state also used the terms. Common in detective novels and movies too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: artbrooks
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 05:19 PM

I've also heard them...from my father, who was from Rhode Island. I read/heard once that "fin" was from the German/Yiddish "finf," or five.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 05:20 PM

I don't have any real "case" for it, but those terms seemed to be associated - in the minds of the generation before me - with prohibition and "mobster" code or jargon. The most common use I saw of the terms in the 1940s thru 50s was in comic strips where the person using them was implied to be of "less than upstanding" reputation.

An alternative explanation was that "naming" the notes made it easier for people to make transactions between and among mixed immigrant cultures with different languages. That might imply a much earlier origin and usage(?).

I knew a few whole families, 1950 - 1960 era, who were so "arithmetically challenged" that they simply "didn't know the numbers." One woman who worked during that time for my father's business always asked him to cash her paycheck for her, which he did for a couple of years before she explained that she didn't know how to write her name, and he learned a little later that she could name her kids (7) but couldn't tell anyone how many there were - i.e. couldn't count them. (The Deuce, Fin, Sawbuck, etc terminology might have been "helpful" to her and her family, but it was so little used by that time that nobody thought to teach it to her.)

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 07:48 PM

Common usage when I was a kid and still heard and used by people of my generation here in the great unwashed midwest. Probably more popular than the "face naming" when I was younger with the "a Jackson" or "a Lincoln" more popular now.

I would tend to agree with John here as it was probably a product of the times.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: frogprince
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 08:16 PM

Mostly like what John said; I grew up in southern Minnesota (born 1942)and knew the terms "sawbuck" and "C note", but only from gangster movies or comic strips. I'm certain none of our family used the expressions, and I doubt that any of our farm neighbors did. I never heard "double sawbuck" or "half C note". I read "fin" in a book occasionally, and probably heard it in gangster movies too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 11:58 PM

Same here as John and frogprince. I think I read them mostly and some in movies. I've also heard a "tenner" for a ten dollar bill. How about "as crooked as a two-dollar bill?"


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: frogprince
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 12:16 AM

Don't remember hearing "crooked as a two-dollar bill"; but "crooked as", or "phoney as", a three dollar bill was actually a pretty common idiom around home.

A variation on that was referring to someone of suspect sexual orientation as a "three dollar bill".

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is "ten spot", commonly as in "can you loan me a ten spot"; I may have heard "five spot" sometime, but I'm pretty sure I never heard any other bills referred to that way.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 08:27 AM

All those terms reached Australia when I was a kid - thru the delights of old Hollywood movies, but were not known much to be used - most people in the 1950/60s had never even seen a $100 bill let alone held one - a 50 Pound note was prior to decimalisation in 1966 the largest note known - not sure if AUD$100 notes were introduced at that time or later on...

We don't have larger denominations in Oz... 'Bank Cheques' or 'Bank Draughts' were used for large amounts - among honest people.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 08:40 AM

There was a comedy routine - I think it was in a Marks Brothers film involving a Ten Spot. I never understood what the con involved as I had, and still do not have, any idea what a Ten Spot is.
Would anyone care to enlighten me?
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 08:45 AM

When I grew up in Windsor, Ontario, in the '60's, these were in common usage: a dollar (whether a bill or in the abstract), as well as being a buck, could be a smacker or a smackeroo; a two-dollar bill could be a deuce (of course); a five-dollar bill was a fiver, a five-spot or a fin; a ten-dollar bill was a ten-spot; bills of higher denomination we were familiar with only in mythology. It seems to me you would hear mention of a C-note occasionally. And a thousand dollars was and is a grand.

And a quarter was two-bits.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 02:30 PM

I'm told that three and four dollar bills are common only in a couple of southern (hilly) states, where they're used mostly when one needs to make change for a seven.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: beardedbruce
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 02:41 PM

btw, while three and four dollar BILLS were not made, there WERE three and four dollar gold coins. Because of the cost of postage, the mint made 3 cent( silver and nickel)coins, and 3 dollar gold coins ( to expedite the sale of 100 3 cent stamps).

Something like the 1999 Susan B Anthony coin- made for the postoffice to provided change in their automated stamp machines.

There was an experimental 4 dollar gold piecs ( the "stella") but the only ones to get out were the ones that congresscritters "lifted" and gave to ladies of easy virtue.

"In 1879, the Honorable John A. Kasson was serving as the United States minister to Austria. Kasson believed it would be advantageous for the United States to participate and proposed a metric coin, which would be compatible with those of Europe. The $3 gold coin was too light and the $5 gold coin was too heavy to comply with the European Standard, which was based on the French franc. Of course, with the world in economic flux over the then current gold market and the newly found silver strikes in Nevada, the lobbyists for both gold mining and silver mining, in Washington, D.C., began to battle over the proposed metric coinage. After a number of trial (pattern) metric coins were evaluated, the most palatable to Congress was that of a $4 gold piece.

Both, Charles E. Barber, Chief Engraver, and George T. Morgan, Assistant Engraver, for the U.S. Mint, were ordered to complete designs for the new $4 gold coin. Being both the Bald Eagle, and the Star were recognizable symbols of the United States, and since the Eagle was used on all domestic gold coins, it was decided the Star would be used on the U.S. $4 Coin for overseas trade. The Latin word for Star is Stella.

THE CHARLES E. BARBER DESIGN
The Charles E. Barber design for the obverse of the $4 gold piece was that of a flowing hair Miss Liberty. Beginning his father, William, had died the year earlier, and Charles inherited his position as Chief Engraver of the mint upon his father's passing, the flowing hair Miss Liberty was almost an exact duplication of a proposed design created by his father for the 50¢ piece. At the 6 o'clock position of the coin appeared the date and encircling the image of Liberty was the inscription:
*6*G*.3*S*.7*C*7*G*R*A*M*S* (* represents a 5-point star)

THE GEORGE T. MORGAN DESIGN
The George T. Morgan design for the obverse of the $4 gold piece is of coiled hair Miss Liberty. This version of Liberty has her hair loosely braided and coiled on her head. Some experts believe the same model was used for this image of Liberty as used on the Silver Dollar designed by Morgan. The date and inscription is the same as used on the Barber piece above.

The reverse of the coin was common to both designs. The main devise was a five-point star. In the center of the star was the legend ONE STELLA 400 CENTS. One the outer perimeter of the coin the inscription reads UNITED STATES OF AMERICA with FOUR DOL. at the 6 o'clock position. Just inside the outer inscription are two other inscriptions reading E PLURIBUS UNUM (in many, one), and DEO EST GLORIA (God is glorious).

Original mintages of the two design types of $4 gold Stellas are as follows:

1879 Flowing Hair......15
1879 Coiled Hair.......10
1880 Flowing Hair......15
1880 Coiled Hair.......10

All of the above were struck as Specimen or Proof Coin. After the first 15 were manufactured, Specimens were made available to congressmen for $6.50 each (the cost of production). These became so popular that and estimated 400 were restruck from the 1879 Flowing Hair design, the following year. Some estimates go as high as 600 pieces. The problem with the restrikes is the mint could not seem to maintain the original weight of the coin (108 grains). The restruck pieces varied in weight from 103 to 109 grains.

Technically these coins are pattern or trail pieces that were only meant for consideration. The United States government never became part of the of the European 'Common Market,' and the coin was discontinued. Like most pattern coins, these coins never made it into circulation, yet by some odd twist of fate; they have been incorporated into the regular series of U.S. gold coins.

As an epilogue for the $4 gold Stella, everyone loves a good scandal. It seems to have been documented by several newspapers, that while coin collectors were unable to acquire the $4 gold Stella coins from the Mint at any price, congressmen were having these coins made into jewelry pendants. These pendants were not seen gracing the necks of their wives, but they were more commonly displayed as trophies for some of the more prominent madams of favored bordellos. There are several dozen coins, known, found with markings of the jewelry mountings. "


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 05:31 PM

Last time I was in Canada I found I had to pay attention and read the denominations on the money there, paper and coin. Looneys and all of that--it makes you work a little harder to shop!

The slang discussed above brings to mind James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and W.C. Fields films.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 21st Century term for US paper money
From: Genie
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 06:02 PM

DK about mid-20th C. terms, but I fear a common mid-21st Century term for US paper money may be:

toilet paper


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: Amos
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 07:06 PM

A ten-spot is a bill with the number 10 on it in big letters. Usually worth ten dollars.

My name is Abe
And I never done no sin!
I feed the slave
An' my face is on the fin.
I never tole
No-one nothin' but the truth...
So why'd ya put that bullet in me,
John Wilkes Booth?


A piece of oral doggerel I learned from an old lawyer friend of my Dad's back in the Fifties.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: Barry Finn
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 07:21 PM

HUmmm. The above must be for a different thread. Thanks for all the comments on currency. I do remember the $5 being a fin. "Phoney as a three dollar bill" is what I remember. My step dad was a bookmaker or bookie so yes I was thinking in shady terms. The ten spot term I've heard as "can you spot me a ten" or can I hit you up for a ten spot", so used both ways but spotting someone was more common to my ears. I had no reason for researching this except my wife seemed to think it quite an oddity.

Barry


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Subject: RE: BS: Mid 20th Century term for US paper money
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 07:25 PM

Abbot and Costello did the "two tens for a five" routine for many years, starting on stage and ending up in their films - the text of it's probably out there on the web somewhere. The full routine as finally developed involves an attempt to 'get back'...


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