green, gold and silver
The National Money Show
by Laura Oppenheimer
It's not all
about the Benjamins at the rare money show in
Portland this weekend as this picture of the
largest denomination ever printed in the U.S.
Fredrick D. Joe/The OregonianThe National Money
Show will feature (from top) two of five famed
1913 Liberty Head nickels, insured at $3 million
each; two dozen $100,000 bills, the largest
denomination ever printed by the U.S.
government; and a vintage, hand-turned money
printing press demonstrated by Mike Beck of the
Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving
There aren't many places you'll find more than
$1 billion in a single room, especially not
during the recession.
One safe bet: this weekend's National Money Show
at the Oregon Convention Center.
You can see very old, very famous coins --
including the penny flipped in 1845 to determine
Portland's name. Meet hundreds of collectors,
who give informal appraisals. And learn about
the hosts -- the American Numismatic
Association, a group devoted, naturally, to the
study of money.
National Money Show
Hours: Today and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.;
Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Location: Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E.
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland
More information: www.money.org
The rock stars of the show might be the U.S.
Department of Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and
Christopher Madden, lead engraver, is taking a
break from President Barack Obama's official
engraved portrait to show off the money-making
Though engravers are artists of sorts, Madden
says, they ultimately make a product. "If I
didn't like George Washington's hairstyle, I
couldn't change it."
Children can try engraving and print their
creations on a vintage press. In its heyday
nearly 150 years ago, it produced 250 sheets of
bills a day. Modern machines crank out more than
8,000 sheets per hour.
Mike Beck, lead plate printer, gladly
demonstrates -- and shows off 100-year-old
photos. "It's really cool when you get kids, and
people who had no idea any of this happens," he
says. "You're teaching history."
A single case contains $1 billion worth of
treasury notes. Next display over, you can see
piddly $100,000 bills printed for Federal
Reserve bank transfers. The largest denomination
ever issued to the general public: $10,000
bills, also on hand.
As curator of the Numismatic Association,
Douglas Mudd cultivates a collection for the
group's Colorado Springs, Colo., museum and
traveling shows. For example, visitors can see a
silver dollar made for President Andrew Jackson
to give to an Asian head of state. It was stolen
from a private collector in 1967 and recovered
more than a quarter-century later.
"Coins of this type, if they're stolen -- people
know what they look like," Mudd says. "They're
like the Mona Lisa. You can't walk into a coin
store and try to sell them."
But you can stroll into the convention center
for a look.