Guess what I found on Ebay. Money! But not just any money. It’s a 1923 one dollar bill. Spent $30 but I think it’s well worth it . I scanned both sides of it below right. Click to enlarge.
The face value is a dollar, meaning worth the same as a loonie if I decide to spend it. But back in the 1920’s $1 could actually buy approximately $13 worth of stuff in today’s dollars. Interesting to see the effects of inflation over many decades. The market price of this banknote today is $38 according to one banknote pricing guide online. Since its value appreciates faster than inflation, this banknote is sort of a long term investment in a way. Returns aren’t great but at least it’s tax free.
This is by far the oldest thing I now own lol. People over the years have exchanged this particular piece of paper for food, services, and other goods. It’s still in fine condition but the fact that it’s been well circulated gives it character 😀 During the economic boom known as the roaring 20s it could have been used to start a million dollar business. During the great depression when the unemployment rate was over 20% perhaps this dollar was used to buy food for a starving family so they could have something to eat that day. Who knows how many countless hands have touched this banknote, maybe even someone famous. It’s probably traveled around the whole country, and now it’s with me.
The 1923 banknotes were eventually replaced by a new design in 1935 but during it’s time of circulation the world was a very difference place. Black and white movies like “Metropolis” were the pinnacle of cinema, even though they had no sound, lol. Jazz was the hippest music to listen to. And the first radio station to broadcast programs in all of North America was a Canadian station in Montreal. Women also fought and won their right to vote. Before this period in time women couldn’t even hold public office (appointed positions.) Here’s a look at what life was like in the 1920s.
- Domestic refrigerators were invented (how on earth did people keep their food fresh before that?)
- Average annual income was $1,200.
- The average house in the US cost $8,000.
- The average automobile was $500 (no a/c though)
- The Dow Index had one of the best bull market runs ever, (over 200% return between 1922 to 1929)
- Life expectancy was about 55 years old (people in their 20s like myself would be considered middle aged haha)
- The US only had 1/3rd of the population it has today.
This is why I love personal finance. You learn so much about history, culture, and get exposed to all sorts of cool stuff like old paper money.