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$2 discount on $2 bill movie story

After writing yesterday’s blog about the Two Dollar Bill Documentary, its producer sent me more information about himself and how he came to do the movie.

He tells an interesting story.

Today’s blog is also worth a $2 discount if you are interested in buying the DVD.

“If they use ‘harper’ at checkout (without the quotes), they will get $2 off the price. And I ship pretty much right away,” John Bennardo writes.

Before you make the popcorn, I think you will find John’s story to be a fascinating one.

It follows below in his own words:

I was never a coin collector. I liked them; I just didn’t collect them. The extent of what I kept (and didn’t spend on baseball cards) were 50-cent pieces and the large silver dollars. Those were special and I still have them today.

What I also held onto were my $2 bills. I can’t recall when I got my first one – or most of them for that matter – but somehow, as an adult in my mid-forties, I had 11 of them in my desk drawer. They’d catch my eye every now and then when I was digging for something else. Like magic, I’d stop and pull them out.  They were unlike the currency I was used to spending. They felt different. They looked different. And like most people, I assumed they were rare and probably more valuable than $2.

I wanted to do something with them. I couldn’t spend them, because then I wouldn’t have them anymore. Maybe I’d try to collect more and enter Guinness World Records for making the largest purchase with $2 bills.  Finally, I came to my senses and took what I was good at – making movies – and applied it to my 11 deuces. The $2 bill documentary was born.

I had no idea what I was in for, but as I started my research, I thought that finding a “money” convention was a good place to start (I did not recall the word ‘numismatist’, as I had probably never used it before). Turns out, there was one in Orlando just a week later. With limited prep, I grabbed a colleague and my camera gear and started making my movie at the Florida United Numismatists Convention.

As I would later say in the film’s narration, “I had never been to a numismatic show before.” It was eye-opening, for reasons far beyond what I learned about $2 bills. So many people!  Everyone had their price guides, their magnifiers, their checklists for what they were hoping to find. It was the first time I heard the word “mule” as it related to currency. Different series years, star and error notes, lowball sets, you name it. It took me back to my childhood, when I would attend baseball card shows. Everyone on the bourse floor was a passionate collector, a historian to some degree. These people had knowledge of currency beyond my expectations. It was infectious.  I was there to do interviews and find some old $2 bills to get on film, but I soon found myself scanning display cases for items I might like to own.

I still wouldn’t consider myself a collector today, but I have a larger collection than I did when I started the film.  In buying a lot of Red Seal $2 bills to use as props in re-creation segments, I landed a few nice 1928s, which I have kept. I was gifted a repeater note (I now know what that means) and a bill autographed by Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip.  My greatest item, however, is an 1896 Rainbow Series $2 bill. This was a wonderful find. The same gentleman who sold me the lot of Red Seal bills later contacted me to say he also found this older $2 bill. He knew it was valuable, but he also really wanted his 15 minutes of fame. He offered it to me for $250 if I would simply give him a notable credit in the film’s end titles.  Deal! I wasn’t looking to spend more money, as the film’s budget was growing, but I could not pass this offer up. I’m sure all collectors reading this have a wonderful story or two about how they landed a great prize in their collection. Now, I do too!

Needless to say, my experience making the film provided a wonderful insight to the world of coin and currency collecting. I have great admiration for everyone who contributed to the film, and whose passion for currency has made my movie a viable product. Although the movie is about a great deal more than the collecting world, I believe it has and will continue to open people’s eyes about the hobby in general. It sure did for me.

If you’re interested in learning more about the film, you can do so on its website – 2dollarbillmovie.com.  I also welcome your comments and stories; john@2dollarbillmovie.com.

My sincere thanks to David Harper for letting me share my story with you on his blog.

John Bennardo

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