Marked bills

Comet (
Sun, 21 Nov 1999 16:47:09 -0500

Gone are the days of "Jane [heart] Dick", peace signs and
red lipstick kisses (yuck) on dollar bills. Now we get URLs
stamped onto our coke-soaked currency. [1]

The Treasury Dept. might not be too thrilled if this hobby
catches on bigtime... especially with all those not-pretty
new bills being cranked out. But the statistics generated
by this website could be the basis for some fun elementary
school projects.

--Comet Shows Where Buck Stops
November 13, 15:39 EST by Jeffrey Bair (AP)

PITTSBURGH -- If you find yourself wondering
where the heck your money went, now there's
a way to find out.

An Internet site called ``'' [2]
-- in honor of the president whose likeness graces the
$1 bill -- tracks U.S. currency as it changes hands from
city to city.

Bills marked with ``'' have been
through Ryan's Produce in Albany, N.Y., and the tax
collector's office in Coffey County, Kan. A marked $100
bill bought a nail gun in Lorton, Va., and at last report was
20 miles away in Sterling, Va.

``I didn't think it would be as addicting as some people are
finding it,'' site creator Hank Eskin said Friday. ``It's something
out there on the Internet that's not porn, and it's not selling
anything. It's pure fun. I think people appreciate that.''

The record starts when someone enters the serial number of
a bill at and marks the bill with the
Web site address. About 3.5 percent of them will be logged
again by someone else as they change hands, Eskin said.

Someone with the nickname ``Adam'' claims to have entered
65,051 bills into the site and has heard about 4,955 of them --
a success rate of 7.6 percent. ``The ones ($1 bills) seem to get
most of the hits,'' said Colleen Marsala, who has marked and
logged about 1,300 bills in her spare time.

``I've seen mine spent in bars, fast-food places,'' she said.
``I read where one was used to pay for a hooker.'' -- The hits
are real, Eskin said. Three digits of the bill's serial number are
masked by the site to prevent bogus entries. -- Marsala, who
lives in suburban Pittsburgh, said she has been logging bills
since August and has read of their travels as far as California.
Money has fascinated her since childhood when she
stamped money with a cartoon horse to see if she would get it
back. She said she got one bill back at a movie theater. -- As of
Saturday [1999-11-13], the Where's George Web site claimed
68,392 people had entered 1,025,076 bills, totalling $6,005,796.[3]

Eskin pays for the site by selling advertisements and rubber
stamps with the Internet address on them. The 34-year-old
electronic commerce consultant from Boston said he started
Where's George last year to practice web page design. Some
of the $1 bills have been logged at six different places since
the site went up in December, Eskin said. -- ``I've actually
been surprised at how slow money travels. It could go just
three miles in two months,'' he said.

Defacing U.S. currency is a crime [4], but federal law defines
``defacing'' as altering a bill so much that it cannot be used.
-- Edward Sheehan, a spokesman for the U.S. Treasury
Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, said that
while it is legal to write on U.S. currency, ``we discourage
people from doing that. It is best to have the notes pristine.''

[1] (1997)
1999-11-21: >90k users, >1.1mil bills, >7 mil dollars