To Heaven with Bank Notes

Peter Symes

There are very few things that a delivery of bank notes will upset. It really doesn’t matter what I am indulged in, no matter how irritable or how pre-occupied I am, the delivery of a package of bank notes from my favourite dealer really disturbs nothing and is always welcome. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, what time of day, or to what degree I am occupied, the arrival of Bible-toting evangelists at the front door is always disturbing and unwelcome.

            What irks my godless soul is that they want to convert me and save my soul, but they won’t let me convert them to atheism. However, last week I was a little more bored than usual while waiting for the postman to deliver some more bank notes, and who should arrive but the door-to-door salesmen of Heaven. So I thought I would entertain their hopes of converting me, just to relieve my ennui. It has always intrigued me how the opening lines of so many of the evangelists go something like: ‘Have you every wondered what happens when you die?’ Now I am quite certain that when my time arrives, my body will turn to ashes and my soul will evaporate with nary an essence remaining to haunt the ether. This I believe because I am a godless, although far from a dissolute, person.

            However the door-to-door salesmen of Heaven will persist in promising that if I follow the divine way as espoused by their brethren, that I will be able to go to Heaven after I die and there I will live forever. When I protest that I would rather not live forever, as this life has had too many difficulties already and that I wouldn’t want to repeat any of that, they then assure me that my difficulties would not follow me to Heaven ... only my joys. ‘What’ they ask me, ‘is the thing you most enjoy doing? For when you go to Heaven, this is what will be available for you to pass your time.’ It seems good doesn’t it, what you most enjoy, or what you enjoy at all, will be always available to you!

            It has always seemed to me that these door-to-door evangelists should be preaching more on how to live this life, rather than making promises for the next, but in this democracy each idiot is allowed his own lunacy – theirs is the divine way and mine is bank notes. After failing to relieve my ennui by a good old-fashioned debate and failing to convert me to their cause, I watched the salesmen wander next door to meet the neighbour’s Doberman, who has no fear of God or his messengers, and I returned to my chair and waited for the anticipated arrival of the postman. As I sat quietly and watched the messengers of God stand before the neighbour’s gate, watching the Doberman and probably wondering if God would assist them as he had assisted Daniel in the lion’s den, my thoughts returned to Heaven ...

            ‘What’ I asked myself, ‘would I do in Heaven if the prophecy of the door-to-door messengers of God actually came true?’ I suspect that the righteous believe that life in Heaven should consist of communing with the Angels, listening to the heavenly harps generate unworldly tunes that soothe the spirits as they wander the halls of God’s house and the gardens of Paradise. After some consideration I decided that this wouldn’t do for me at all. Should Heaven exist, then I would want to spend all my time collecting and studying bank notes ... because this is what I enjoy doing most in this life.

            The question inevitably follows whether this would be allowed by the guardian of the gate? Knowing nothing at all about Heaven, I can’t say whether studying bank notes would be allowed, but since the door-to-door messengers of God have promised that I can indulge myself in my favourite pastime for the rest of eternity, then who am I to challenge such thought?

            Of course collecting bank notes in Heaven promises some great delights and some intriguing side-benefits to the dedicated collector. It would go without saying that all bank notes collected in heaven would be in uncirculated condition (and of course would sell below the catalogued price). Imagine, no more washed notes, no more foxing at the edges, or centre folds that tarnish even the cleanest of notes, and there would be absolutely no more problems with grading. Would this ruin the delight of going through junk boxes looking for rare notes in any condition? Of course not, the junk boxes would still be there, only all the notes in the junk boxes would be in UNC!

            There would of course be no-one competing for the rare notes, because there would always be enough of the rare notes to go around. Which of course raises the question of other collectors in heaven. There will be lots of other bank note collectors in heaven, all carefully directed to one corner by St. Peter as they come through the gate. The problem might of course exist that even with all the dead collectors in the world, there might not be anyone who collects just what I collect and therefore I might have no-one to discuss the finer points of the old issues of the East African Currency Board and the issues of Zanzibar. In heaven this is no problem, as their ‘can do’ attitude will provide a suitable person interested in the subject. If no recent internees in our small corner of the sky appears interested in my areas of specialization, then the souls of the long departed would be petitioned until they found someone from long ago who would have been interested in the notes from Zanzibar and the East African Currency Board had they had the opportunity. Maybe Julius Caesar would have taken an interest in these notes given a decent opportunity, but ... I’m not sure that I’d find him in Heaven. Nevertheless, there will be somebody with whom to discuss signature varieties and serial number prefixes!

            Dealers, you might think, would have a tough show of it in heaven, but there might not be too many of them make it due to their sins of over-grading and washing the notes during their life on Earth. However, those who have done the right thing will undoubtedly find a niche in heaven supplying new issues and encouraging non-collectors to take up the hobby; and if it so happens that they’ve simply been dealers because of the need to support their collecting habit, then they can give dealing away and return to being collectors.

            Apart from all the uncirculated notes in heaven, there would of course be excellent reference works on all types and varieties of every bank note ever issued. There would be no concern about the re-issuing and renumbering of the various catalogues, all data would be complete; and of course there would be the chance of interviewing the dead souls of those who were responsible for printing and for issuing the notes. The only real problem might be getting up-to-date information on current issues. Would we get current issues? I expect so, after all I get the new issues now, so this would have to continue in heaven. Of course, in heaven there would be none of the special collector issues produced specifically for the collector market by irresponsible note issuing authorities. These ungodly issues might be assigned to the nether regions of Hades, but there would be no room for them in heaven!

            I am concerned about the loss of the ability to own notes which, on this mortal plane, might be the only ones known or perhaps only one of two or three known; because in heaven there would be enough notes for every collector. Would this detract from owning a complete set of notes from Zanzibar in UNC? I think not, and it would be nice for everyone interested in owning a set to be able to sit around and admire each other’s collection, even if they are all the same.

            Of course this raises the question as to what happens to notes that are not redeemed or are destroyed at the moment? Do destroyed bank notes have souls? Perhaps ... just perhaps ... all bank notes that are destroyed go to heaven to be re-incarnated in UNC. This would explain what happened to all those notes that have never been redeemed — somewhere between being circulated and surrendered they were lost before their time and are now awaiting dedicated collectors on a higher plane. Maybe all the notes that have been destroyed in furnaces also go to heaven, although I can’t be sure about ‘Hell’ notes, as they may be an exception. The question of what happens to unredeemed and destroyed notes must remain unanswered until I get to heaven I suppose, but it won’t detract from collecting bank notes in the blessed afterlife.

            As I sit watching the door-to-door messengers of God consider the work of the devil and retreat from my neighbour’s front fence, I must admit that there may be some disadvantages to being a godless man. Perhaps I will get up a little earlier next Sunday and wend my cautious way to the local church, it might not be too late to enhance my chances of collecting forever, and it might be the only way of getting that first 1,000-dirham note from the United Arab Emirates in UNC!

This article was completed in December 2003
© Peter Symes