Harley Spiller: Keep the Change – A Collector’s Tales of Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes, and Other Curious Currency

Published on Sep 1, 2015
Museum of American Finance

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Harley J. Spiller – the Museum’s own “Inspector Collector” – began collecting money at age five when, home sick from school, his father tossed him a sack of pennies and a Whitman coin folder. In the five decades since, Spiller has amassed one of America’s most extensive collections of unusual financial artifacts, as well as a wealth of anecdotes and quirky historical details about US currency.

In Keep the Change (Princeton Architectural Press April 2015), Spiller explains why greenbacks are green, what happens to worn-out bills, how artists navigate the fine line between art and mutilation and whether it’s ever acceptable to burn money.


Readers learn why greenbacks are green; what happens to worn-out bills (compost is involved); how artists navigate the fine line between art and mutilation; whether it’s ever acceptable to burn money (short answer: maybe); and how coin clippers and counterfeiters through the ages have profited by manipulating money. This highly selective tour through currency legends and lore will inspire readers to look with a new sense of wonder at the bills that pass through our hands every day.

Keep the Change: A Collector’s Tales of Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes, and Other Curious Currency