Yeah, we’ve all been told money doesn’t grow on trees, but inside the new Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Learning Center and Money Museum, it does. Starting Jan. 3, instead of spending some plunk (another word for money we learned at the museum) on another turkey sandwich at lunchtime, swing over and check out the free exhibit. Choose from interactive games (try trading your way off Barter Island) to spotting counterfeit money to posing for your own dollar bill. Here’s what we learned in just one cost-free morning.
• The museum’s 23-foot Money Tree has more than 5,000 pieces of replica money attached to its leaves. Don’t think about swiping any. The notes have been out of circulation for more than 100 years, shrunken to three-quarters their size and paired so front and back don’t match.
• You are allowed make your own money as long as it doesn’t resemble federal money and you don’t try to pass it off as U.S. money in any way.
• The East Sixth Street lobby with its grand ceilings has been closed since Sept. 11, 2001, and will now reopen as the main entrance to the museum.
• Got milk? Cows are the oldest known form of money.
• On the island of Yap, stones are used as a measure of wealth. The bigger the stone, the wealthier you are.
• Martha Washington was the only woman on U.S. paper currency. Martha appeared on $1 silver certificates in 1886, 1891 and 1896.
• The nation’s smallest denomination was the half-cent coin, used from 1792 until 1857.
• $100,000 was the largest amount ever printed on a U.S. note, but never circulated among the public. The largest denomination now in print is $100.
• More than $16 million in new $1 bills are printed every day to replace worn-out ones.