June 13, 2003
Currency current events

Hey, cool. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is talking about printing some more $2 bills.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing may print 121.6 million new $2 bills in fiscal year 2004, which starts Oct. 1, said BEP spokeswoman Claudia Dickens. "Around July or August we will be able to confirm that number positively," she said.

When new $2 bills were last printed in 1996, some 163.6 million of the notes were made. The government stopped making the bills because there wasn't much demand for them from banks and their customers. Cash registers typically don't have bins for the $2 note.

"I think people are just saving them. The general population, when something is unusual in terms of money, they pull it and set it aside `Gee, I haven't seen one of those,' " said David Sundman, a paper money expert and president of Littleton Coin Co. "It is just human nature."

Some people like to give them as gifts or use them at $2 betting windows at horse racetracks, a few money mavens suggested.

The main source for deuces here in Houston is the Mucky Duck, which also likes to hand out half-dollars and now Sacagawea dollars as change. I confess that I was a hoarder of $2 bills, but I've since gotten over it.

If you don't like $2 bills, how does the concept of an 18-cent coin grab you?

If Americans want less loose change rattling around in their purses and pockets, they should replace the 10-cent dime with an 18-cent coin, according to mathematician Jeffrey Shallit of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

Shallit has figured out the denominations that would give the minimum number of coins for any amount of change. Canadians would benefit from an 83 coin, he has found. And nations in the euro zone should add either a 1.33- or a 1.37-euro coin.

Most people like their change to comprise as few coins as possible. For example, if one is owed 32, the four-coin combination of a quarter (25), a nickel (5) and two cents is more satisfying than three dimes and two cents.

A handful of US change contains an average of 4.7 coins, Shallit calculates. He assumes that the smallest possible number of coins is used, and that all amounts of change between 0 and 99 are equally likely. They may not be, however - for example, the tendency for retail prices to end in 99 may skew things.

Could another four-coin system reduce this average? The combinations 1, 5, 18, 25 and 1, 5, 18, 29 each deliver an average of 3.89 coins in a handful of change, Shallit finds. The first option requires only replacing the dime with an 18 coin.

According to Shallit's web page, his suggestion was tongue-in-cheek, a subtlety that was not grasped by much of the media when they picked it up. Those crazy mathematicians, always with the practical jokes.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 13, 2003 to Society and cultcha | TrackBack

On a tangential topic, ever heard the "Austin Lounge Lizards"? I caught a show by them a few years back at the Mucky Duck...an overall fun experience.

I'ld never encountered satirical, liberal, bluegrass before. :)

Posted by: Morat on June 13, 2003 5:14 PM

With the subway fare in NYC just raised to $2 for a single trip, the $2 bill would make sense here. However, the Mucky Duck sounds like a more fun way to use a $2 bill.

Posted by: William Hughes on June 13, 2003 8:07 PM

Morat, I'm a big fan of the Austin Lounge Lizards. They play at the Duck regularly (I believe they're there next on June 28), and I catch them a couple of times a year. Definitely a ton of fun.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on June 14, 2003 9:42 AM

Thanks for the tip. I've been meaning to force my wife to go see them. I first saw them about ten years ago, when Small Minds was just out. Given Ginrigh was at the height of his power, hearing "Ginrich the Newt" was pretty sweet.

Posted by: Morat on June 14, 2003 7:24 PM

Are you the Chuck Kuffner that went to Trinity University in the mid-80's? Actually, I can't imagine there was ANOTHER Chuck Kuffner that went to Trinity during some OTHER era, but who knows -- stranger things have happened!

- Dyanne (another person who went to Trinity in the mid-80's, but who is the one and only "Dyanne" that ever attended, so she can be known solely by her first name, when spelled oddly as it is)

Posted by: Dyanne on June 20, 2003 3:15 PM