darmok47 (darmok47) wrote,
darmok47
darmok47

Dime

Someone left a U.S. dime in the shop where I work. I think they must have confused it for one of our 5p coins. They're about the same size (and the same colour) after all - there are probably many American visitors who think our 5p coins are 10p by association. So during quiet times at work I picked up the little silver circle, felt it in my hand and studied its surface.

One thing I noticed was that it was only identified as "ONE DIME". I had kind of assumed before that names like nickel and dime were only nicknames, and that the coins themselves would say 5c and 10c. But there's actually no indication how it relates to dollars or cents. Many visitors have trouble identifying which of our coins are which, but at least close scrutiny will reveal most of them announce their value in near-universal numericals. But a visitor to the US will need to translate the word "ONE" and understand the comparitive value of the word "DIME".

Also, since these terms for subdivisions of a dollar are like units of currency in themselves, it almost seems as if a price like $1.98, or "a dollar ninety-eight", should be written as $1.3.2.0.3 ... one dollar, three quarters, two dimes, no nickels and three cents.

Another thing which struck me is how thin it is. It's pretty cool. It makes it seem more like a simple little token - a mark stamped on a sliver of metal - which is what a coin really is, after all, but it makes it feel old-fashioned to someone used to our more sturdy coins. I guess it makes me think of the centuries-old coins in the National Museum, although, ironically, the "old" coins within my living memory are larger and bulkier than the ones we use now.
Tags: artefacts, history, trans-atlantic
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