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Clyde, Time Was: A penny saved is becoming a rare thing

Time was, a penny was worth something. And if you saved enough, together with a few empty drink bottles, you could buy “whatever your heart desired.”

Money was tied in a handkerchief corner. Sometimes, with luck, you found it. Other times a little ol’ rich lady at church wearing fur pelts with eyes gave you a quarter that you had to give up when the big brass plate came by. We wanted more money. We save it for a rainy day. Everybody has a piggy bank story to tell and it corresponds to their net worth.

Coin collectors kept coins just to show to other collectors, or because it was .99 silver. Most coins are not worth their money. A penny is 97.5 percent zinc with a 2.5 percent copper coating. A 1943 copper penny that was found in a roll from the bank sold for $82,500. A widow’s mite is actually worth only about half a penny. Not very much to give or spend on a “cause cele’bre” Pick your charity carefully.

At a job interview, if a penny rolls under the piano, do you pretend not to notice or move the piano to retrieve it? The right answer is you get a stick and nudge it out. You get the job.

Penny wise and pound foolish started in the 1600s and we have been pinching pennies ever since. Well, some of us have. Where was the warning label that the stock market could be a hazard to your health and addictive?

“Show me a penny, Whose image and superscription hath it?” Jesus asked in Luke 20:24. Who do you owe?”

“Do you owe $2,000 or more on a Visa card?” asks a caller on the phone five times a day. Don’t tell the credit card company your troubles; it was you who borrowed the cash just to get by. Now your taxes are due and your liberal neighbors can’t stand to support our current government.

“Render therefore to all their due; tribute to whom tribute is due: custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to honor, owe no man anything,” says Romans 13:7.

So give it up and go on a spending spree. Reward yo’self for hanging in there.  But be careful when you get to the checkout. Time is coming when we won’t be able to pay in cash. The Chinese already use facial recognition technology.

How do you tip? What will drug dealers do without stacks of “C” notes? Cash registers will be relocated to museums. F&M will be happy not to put a trace on all those bad checks.

Obsolete bills will become even more valuable to numismatists. A rare “Flowing Hair” 1794 dollar sold for $10,016,875 — the most valuable coin.

Locally, dealers look for Morgan dollars with Carson City mint marks. Gold from Gold Hill in the 1840s may have found its way to the Bechtler mint in Rutherfordton. Metal detectors once found a pillar dollar on the library grounds where Cornwallis camped.

Chances are your ancestors did not have a Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I Constantinople Mint gold piece to hide away in a bonnet top dresser drawer.

The Civil War silver hidden on Bank Street from Stoneman has never been unearthed, even by Yankee invaders. Think of all those dead presidents  you tread over daily on your way to work for such a meager salary.

Finish this line from 1Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is…”

If you don’t know, then you are oblivious to what money can do for you or  to you.  Take your chances. To decide, Romans chose between “nabia aut caput” —  literally ship or emperors head. Today we simply call it “heads or tails.”

Clyde is a Salisbury artist.

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