Video: the literal shrinking dollar

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If this is just surface tension at work, I wonder if you could reverse this just by soaking the bill in water and letting it dry normally.


18 USC 333:

“Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”

There’s an intent requirement and I doubt the feds spend much time prosecuting this, but this probably is illegal (unless, as nimelnnar suggests, it could be reversed)


From the title, I thought that this was going to be about the transition from the old pre-1929 “horse blanket” sized bills to the current size…


I hear that at this precise time it is a lot easier to shrink british pounds…


Magicians mutilate both paper currency and coins all the time–it’s never been a problem.


Ah - that’s the inflation adjusted dollar I’ve been hearing so much about.


As a former bank teller, I’d LOL if someone gave me a shrunken bill. But, then again, I’ve laughed at shrunken Bill…

But the text you quote doesn’t distinguish between temporary or permanent disfigurement. That’s an interesting question for the pedantic philosophers. Things are just the world-lines of particles fixed in a pattern for a period of time. The bills are minted and, once they begin to wear down, banks take them out of circulation and the government incinerates them. So if the crime is making the bill unfit for circulation, then presumably you could do whatever you wanted to it while it was in your possession provided you had the means to reverse the damage. But if the crime is reducing the overall lifetime of the bill’s integrity, then making it unfit for circulation would break the law even if you could completely reverse the damage.

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This better not somehow be because of Brexit.

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You sure that’s all in said statute? i thought it was pretty well established that you could destroy any currency you wish; just not deface/etc. with the intent of making it look like it’s worth more than it actually is.

I know that coins are absolutely legal to destroy. Those little stamping machines at science museums do it all the time.

In grade school a teacher terrified me by threatening me with arrest for drawing on a nickel with a crayon.

I did learn a valuable lesson about the trustworthiness of authority.


Yeah, but they always manage to make them whole again, so it’s all right.

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the nicest paraphrase for “lawyer” I read in a long time


A good way to kill counterfeiters who bleach bills?

No, water does a similar thing. You know, like the way it will shrink a wool sweater…

The anhydrous ammonia does a similar thing, but more dramatically. But the principle is exactly the same – the surface tension of the evaporating liquid (water or ammonia) pulls the fibers together, and when the liquid is all gone, the wool sweater or paper note takes on a more compact geometry. Shorter and thicker.

Which makes me think … people who knit have a technique, let’s see … it’s called felting. They knit a hat or something a couple sizes bigger than the goal, and then boil it in water to shrink it. I bet that anhydrous ammonia treatment could do a heckuva good job felting.

Of course, the downside is that you have to be careful with liquid anhydrous ammonia. If you get it on your bare skin, not only is it very cold, but it soaks right in. And it’s acutely toxic. More than a smallish amount can be lethal.


Wow, a lot more detail than I expected. Thanks!

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