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Monday, January 24, 2011

Hot Money (1880 & 1901) -- Problems of Using Stoves as Safes in Summer

"New-Jersey," New York Times, 20 Nov. 1880, p. 8.

"Mrs Saltig, a German woman, residing in ... Hoboken, put $50 in greenbacks, which represented her savings, into the parlor stove for safe keeping.  When the cold spell came Thursday night she lighted a fire in the stove, and did not think of her money until it was nearly burned to a crisp. She consulted Internal Revenue Commissioner Reid as to whether the Government would redeem it, and he took her to the office of Bank President Simms.  That gentleman remarked that she would have been better off if she had put her money in a savings bank. 'There isn't much difference, I guess,' dryly remarked Mrs. Saltig, as she walked off with her small parcel of burned notes."


"Ten Thousand Dollars Cremated," Atlanta Constitution 8 Nov. 1883, p. 4.

ERIE -- "Jacob Seib, a farmer, to foil burglars, made a deposit in his parlor stove of currency and securities amounting to $10,000.  Saturday his wife arranged to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage with a surprise party. Being unaware of her husband's cunning she lighted a fire in the stove and cremated the earnings of a lifetime."


"Uses a Stove as a Safe," Chicago Tribune, 3 Jan. 1900, p. 5.


[The bills were badly burned, and sent to the U.S. Treasury for redemption -- this was a sufficiently common occurrence that it kept a department to attempt to verify that the ashes and scraps people sent in after accidents with their folding money actually were ex-banknotes.]


"In a Minor Key," Chicago Daily Tribune, 28 Sept. 1901, p. 12.

TIMELY WARNING: "This is just to remind the fellow who placed his bank books and a few other things in his parlor stove last spring after fire time for safe keeping that with the approach of cool weather the parlor stove ceases to be a safe repository unless he has bank books, etc., to burn. -- Yonkers Statesman."


There's an original for this commonplace late C19th story (reported frequently enough not to have been entirely apocryphal) in England in 1825: 'John Bull' [Charles Lamb and Thomas Hood], The Laughing Philosopher (London: Sherwood, Jones & Co., 1825),  "Dr Monsey and His Bank-Notes," pp. 80-81,

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