Just before he died, my best friend’s father leaned forward from his hospital bed and whispered something to him. My friend and I went to his father’s house and down into the basement. Just where he said we would find it was the cigar box that the old man had tucked up into the rafters. The box was filled with currency, mostly twenties and hundreds.
However, the condition of the currency was bad. The money had been stored for so long a time in that damp basement that the bills had turned dark, smelled bad and were clumped together. Because our currency is printed on rag paper, not pulp, the stash had not disintegrated totally but, the box of bills could have easily been mistaken for a matted bunch of old receipts and thrown out.
What to do now? Do we go home and try to tease the bills apart and wash them? No, we thought better of that. Afraid that we would do more damaget to the individual notes, we decided to simply take the cigar box and the money to our local branch bank.
The teller called the manager and the manager phoned a vice-president who suggested we go to the central office of the bank where the money could be evaluated.
There a manager and a teller took us to a side room and began to separate the bills, which turned out to be a fairly simple process. There were $7800 in bills crammed into that box. The bank exchanged the money for us and my friend walked out with the full amount in crisp new bills. The bank charged nothing for the service.
According to the bank manger people often bury money in the ground in a container thinking that they will come back for it soon. Sometimes they simply forget about it or die without revealing the stash to any one. Other people squirrel away money “for a rainy day” under a stone in the back yard or even under the floor mat in their car. Some just don’t trust banks and keep paper money in the refrigerator, giving new meaning to the term “cold cash,” or in the basement like my friend’s father. Each of these methods set paper money on a journey to oblivion.
To find out how to recover the value of your damaged or old money, take it to the bank for information. They
might be able to recover the full value of the bills for you on the spot.
The treasury department has an interesting web site which tells you what do to with containers, purses, or any other thing containing damaged money. They’ll accept even money half-burnt or insect ridden bills, or bills which the dog chewed up. The web site directs you to send the money to the Treasury as is and in the original container they will do their best to recover the value at no cost to you.