6 surprising facts about money that will leave your head spinning

Why does money smell? What’s the most counterfeited currency? We take a look at some surprising facts about the money in our pockets.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

A person holding onto a fan of twenty pound notes

Image source: Getty Images.

Here’s a well-known fact about money: we all need it. We earn it, we spend it, we save it. Money has been an intrinsic part of our lives for thousands of years – sometimes with very funny and unexpected consequences.

[top_pitch]

5 Stocks For Trying To Build Wealth After 50

One notable billionaire made 99% of his current wealth after his 50th birthday. And here at The Motley Fool, we believe it is NEVER too late to start trying to build your fortune in the stock market. Our expert Motley Fool analyst team have shortlisted 5 companies that they believe could be a great fit for investors aged 50+ trying to build long-term, diversified portfolios.

Click here to claim your free copy now!

Here are some surprising facts about money that will have you looking at your banknotes in a completely new light.

1. There’s a reason your money smells

No, you’re not crazy. It’s a fact that money has a distinctive aroma. But where exactly does it come from? Simply put, the smell of money is the result of a combination of volatile organic chemicals present in the special paper and the ink used to print money.

The smell is distinctive enough that dogs can be trained to recognise it to catch people travelling with too much cash.

2. Sterling is the most counterfeited currency

According to the Great American Coin Company, the British pound is counterfeited more often than the dollar and a lot more frequently than the Euro.

This isn’t a new phenomenon either. Apparently, people have been forging British banknotes for a very long time. During the Second World War, the Nazis even had a plan to drop counterfeit British notes over England in an effort to destabilise the economy, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

3. It is legal to burn money … but only sometimes

If you’ve heard that burning money is illegal, that fact is only partially right. If you burn money completely – as in, all the way into ashes – then you’re fine. However, it is illegal in the UK to deface money, and that includes partially burning banknotes. This is because partially destroyed banknotes can end up back in circulation even though they’re no longer legal.

[middle_pitch]

4. The Chinese invented paper money

Coins have been around for a long time, but paper money is a relatively new thing.

It was used first in 7th century China among merchants only. By the 11th century, it was being widely used because a copper shortage made it difficult to produce enough coins. In fact, even Marco Polo was accepting the equivalent to very early paper money in the 1300s. 

Paper currency didn’t appear in Europe until 500 years later. Sweden was the first country to use it in 1661. 

5. You can play a vinyl record with the new £5 note

How’s that for a fascinating fact about money? The new £5 note is made of polymer, a thin plastic material that lasts much longer than regular paper money.

Because of its composition, the edges of the banknote are sharp enough that it can replace a stylus needle. 

6. It’s possible to get £1 million banknotes

Technically speaking, you would have to be a bank to have access to them, but £1 million notes are available. In fact, for financial institutions with a big enough net worth, it’s even possible to get £100 million notes.

Neither note is actually in general circulation, but they are regularly deposited in the bank of England by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland to back up everyday notes.

Is this little-known company the next ‘Monster’ IPO?

Right now, this ‘screaming BUY’ stock is trading at a steep discount from its IPO price, but it looks like the sky is the limit in the years ahead.

Because this North American company is the clear leader in its field which is estimated to be worth US$261 BILLION by 2025.

The Motley Fool UK analyst team has just published a comprehensive report that shows you exactly why we believe it has so much upside potential.

But I warn you, you’ll need to act quickly, given how fast this ‘Monster IPO’ is already moving.

Click here to see how you can get a copy of this report for yourself today

More on Personal Finance

Note paper with question mark on orange background
Personal Finance

Should you invest your ISA in a model portfolio?

Which model ISA portfolios offer both high performance and low fees? Hargreaves Lansdown, Interactive Investor and AJ Bell go under…

Read more »

Economic Uncertainty Ahead Sign With Stormy Background
Personal Finance

Is it time to exit emerging markets investments?

Investors may well be sitting on losses from emerging markets funds. Is it worth keeping the faith for a sustained…

Read more »

Personal Finance

Share trading? Three shares with turnaround potential

Share trading has been difficult in 2022, but which companies have turnaround potential? Jo Groves takes a closer look at…

Read more »

Man using credit card and smartphone for purchasing goods online.
Personal Finance

Revealed! Why Gen Z may be the savviest generation when it comes to credit cards

New research reveals that Gen Z may be the most astute when it comes to credit cards. But why? And…

Read more »

Environmental technology concept.
Personal Finance

The 10 best-performing sectors for ISA investors

The best-performing sectors over the past year invested in real assets such as infrastructure, but is this trend set to…

Read more »

Road sign warning of a risk ahead
Personal Finance

Recession risk ‘on the rise’: is it time for investors to worry?

A major global bank has suggested the risk of a recession in the UK is 'on the rise'. So, should…

Read more »

pensive bearded business man sitting on chair looking out of the window
Personal Finance

1 in 4 cutting back on investments amid cost of living crisis

New research shows one in four investors have cut back on their investing contributions to cope with the rising cost…

Read more »

Image of person checking their shares portfolio on mobile phone and computer
Personal Finance

The 10 most popular stocks among UK investors so far this year

As the new tax year kicks off, here's a look at some of the most popular stocks among UK investors…

Read more »