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93 posts on "Historical Echoes"

October 10, 2014

Historical Echoes: “Burns Money” on What’s My Line?

Amy Farber

WhatsMyLine_HULL In a May 2014 Historical Echoes post, Marja Vitti describes what happened to money too old to be left in circulation: it was incinerated by the Federal Reserve Banks until passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970, after which the money was shredded. Paper money incineration by a Federal Reserve Bank employee was the subject of a hilarious broadcast of the famous TV quiz show What’s My Line? In this broadcast, which aired on June 12,  1960, Thomas Hull, in charge of burning the money for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, steps onto the set, writes his name on the chalkboard, and when asked by John Daly, the show’s host, where he comes from, needs to repeat “Lake Ronkonkoma, New York” three times before he is understood clearly. You might think that this is why Mr. Daly answers so many of the panelists’ questions himself rather than letting Mr. Hull answer them. But you’d be wrong—he does this for pretty much every contestant to ensure that communications are clear and the game remains fair.

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August 22, 2014

Historical Echoes: Federal Reserve Clams

Marja Vitti

We’ve already talked about clams being used as money as late as 1933, but some genuine clam shells found during the construction of the New York Fed’s building at 33 Liberty Street sparked both geological interest and many witty remarks about “clams” being fossilized under a bank.

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August 15, 2014

Historical Echoes: Caricatures of Financial Leaders in the National Portrait Gallery

Amy Farber

Kascht-greenspan-buffett-caricatures-300px-(2) Caricatures of Alan Greenspan and Warren Buffett in the National Portrait Gallery? Are we hearing correctly? The National Portrait Gallery indeed collects and has great respect for caricatures. The Gallery had a 1998 exhibition and post entitled “Celebrity Caricature in America.” Caricature is quite an old art form: According to Werner Hofmann’s 1957 “Caricature from Leonardo to Picasso,” caricature in the Western world dates back to Leonardo da Vinci. Caricatures of bankers and financiers have been around probably as long as bankers and financiers.

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July 18, 2014

Historical Echoes: The Worst Bank Robbers in Mendham, New Jersey

Megan Cohen

There are many methods by which financial institutions can ready themselves for worst-case scenarios: they participate in the federal deposit insurance system, they follow a variety of banking regulations, and they prepare for natural disasters, for starters. But what about bank robberies, which typically strike their targets with little or no warning?

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June 27, 2014

Historical Echoes: The United States’ First Credit Union–Run Out of a Gentleman Lawyer’s Front Parlor

Amy Farber

St. Mary’s Bank was the first credit union created in the United States, in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1908. A website honors both the centennial of the institution and the credit union concept. A small museum (see article about its opening) was created near the site of the credit union, which is still functioning.

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May 30, 2014

Historical Echoes: Aye, That Piece of Eight You Be Thinkin’ of Were a Precursor to Today’s Dollar

Amy Farber

Why do we associate pieces of eight with pirates? Perhaps it has to do with the role of the phrase “pieces of eight” in one of the greatest pirate adventures in literature, Treasure Island* (Robert Louis Stevenson, 1883). It’s Captain Flint the parrot, belonging to the pirate Long John Silver, who’s continually screaming “pieces of eight!” The last few sentences of the book read:

The bar silver and the arms still lie, for all that I know, where Flint buried them; and certainly they shall lie there for me. Oxen and wain-ropes would not bring me back again to that accursed island; and the worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts or start upright in bed with the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: “Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!”

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May 23, 2014

Historical Echoes: The Trouble with Money

Marja Vitti

“The trouble with money,” said a Federal Reserve Bank of New York publication in the 1960s, “as with all material things in the world, is that it does not last forever.” The Federal Reserve has the important task of adding liquidity to the market, but did you know that it is also responsible for removing money—literally—through currency destruction? U. S. currency is made of 25 percent linen and 75 percent cotton, which makes it pretty durable, but even so, currency is removed from circulation at a surprising rate. Each denomination of notes has its own life cycle, and $1 bills, for example, have to be replaced every 5.9 years or so.

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February 28, 2014

Historical Echoes: Open a Kiddie Book and Read about Economic Principles, or Read it and Sleep

Amy Farber

Would it ever occur to anyone that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl, 1964) teaches economic lessons about “incentives, poverty, scarcity, producers, consumers, and competition”? Or that The Lorax (Dr. Seuss, 1971) covers “natural resources, choices, and scarcity”? Or that Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory (Margret and H. A. Rey, 1998) is an examination of “producers, capital resources, and goods”?

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February 21, 2014

Historical Echoes: Thomas Jefferson Slept Here on Maiden Lane/The Compromise of 1790

Mary Tao

In a prior blog post, we saw how Maiden Lane evolved over time. It was here that a momentous event occurred in 1790, changing the history of the United States.

     While serving as Secretary of State in 1790, Thomas Jefferson rented a “mean house” at 57 Maiden Lane "for 106 pounds per year" and “not approving much of the stiff style and etiquette of New York he gave up all his time to the establishment of his new department, foreign affairs, and home." There was much to occupy Jefferson’s time while he was in residence here—in particular, the debt crisis of 1790.

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January 17, 2014

Historical Echoes: Maiden Lane, Where Now Such Waves of Commerce Flow

Mary Tao and Vernon Lovejoy

In the 1600s, a stream flowed near the land now occupied by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, running all the way to the East River. At that time, maidens followed a footpath to the stream’s banks to wash laundry in its fresh water, earning the path the name Maidens’ Path (or in Dutch—Maagde Paatje). When the English arrived in 1664, the name of the street changed to Maiden Lane. As New York City expanded beyond its downtown origins over the years, city planners covered over the stream—but the street’s name stuck.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Historical Echoes | Permalink | Comments (1)
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