It’s boring making money – past leaders and nation’s greats, kings and queens. Same old, same old. Sometimes, even the serious people in charge of finances want to have some fun.
It’s not always about government – sometimes it’s a local town trying something new to help the economy, but in any case, around the world there are weird things going on when it comes to money, like the water coin from Palau or a talking JFK one in Mongolia.
Canada’s glow-in-the-dark dinosaur coin
This collectible quarter features a colored rendering of the Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai dinosaur (discovered in 1972 in Alberta), whose skeleton also glows in the dark. Queen Liz is on the other side.
Canada’s polymer bills
The good: They’re packed with anti-forgery technology. The bad: Feel like monopoly money, tend to stick in ATMs and have been reported to melt under extreme heat.
Germany’s wooden bills
After the first world war, Germany experienced insane rates of inflation, leading towns to print their own forms of unofficial currency, which they called notgeld (German for “emergency money”). Towns printed currency on everything from wood (like the bills above) to aluminum foil to playing cards.
Ithaca, New York’s local currency
Ithaca Hours are one of the most successful examples of local currency. Over 900 business in the area accept the bills, and some employees even issue them as part of their employees’ wages. Each “hour” is equal to $10, since the average hourly wage in Tompkins County at the time was $10 an hour.
Mongolia’s talking Kennedy coin
The 2007 Mongolian 500 Tugrik coin features JFK’s likeness and a tiny button that, when pressed, plays a short clip from Kennedy’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.
Palau’s holy water coins
A set of silver dollar coins commemorating the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Each of the limited-edition coins contains the image of the Virgin Mary and a tiny vial of holy water from the grotto in Lourdes, France.