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How much money could you lift?

Would you get rich if you could lift your weight in gold? In silver? In paper? There is a 1910 newspaper article that speculated on that. The July 12, 1910 article, “The Weight of Money,” in the Evening News, San Jose, Calif., noted: “‘I wish I had all the money I could lift!’ How many thousands who make this get-rich-quick wish have any idea of the amount they would have if the wish should be granted. Few name the denomination of the money on which they desire to test their strength, perhaps believing that their lifting powers would make them wealthy no matter what kind of money they lifted.” With this in mind, the newspaper said a subtreasury official was consulted on how much money the average man could lift in then-current denominations of gold, silver and paper.


“‘Well, he replied, ‘a man could make money on that proposition if he could get hold of paper money of large denominations, but on the smaller bills, silver and gold he would not be a millionaire by any means..... Perhaps more people are deceived on the weight of paper money than on the metals. Now, how many one dollar bills do you think would be necessary to weigh as much as a five dollar gold piece?’”

Fifty was guessed, to which the subtreasury man laughed. “‘As a matter of fact, with a five dollar gold piece in one scale you would have to put about six and a half bills in the other to balance it.’’’

The story ends with a denomination list, using 200 pounds as a good lift:

• Gold coins, $34,060
• Silver dollars, $2,617
• Half dollars, $3,636
• Quarters, $3,657
• Dimes, $3615.80
• Nickels, $917
• Cents, $295.61
• $1 notes, $71,111
• $2 notes, $142,222
• $5 notes, $355,555
• $10 notes, $711,110
• $20 notes, $1,422,220
• $50 notes, $3,555,550
• $100 notes, $7,111,110
• $500 notes, $35,555,550
• $1,000 notes, $71,111,100

Of course, if you could get 200 pounds of the $10,000 Gold Certificates, you would have $711,111,000.

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter. >> Subscribe today.

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