Weird Hobby #723 – GEORGING!
Georging is probably one of the more out-there hobbies I’ve ever enjoyed. I even used it as a topic for a Basic Statistics course I took, and I can’t begin to tell you the number of raised eyebrows I could see from the podium.
Georging is the brainchild of Hank Eskin, who began the website wheresgeorge.com as a way to track where cash travels. The idea is quite simple – enter the year and serial number of whatever bill you have in hand (any denomination will do) as well as the zip code you’re in, mark the website on the bill, then spend it. The hope is that someone gets the bill, notices the website, and re-enters the information and their zip code, and voila! You have a hit on that bill, along with statistics of how far it’s traveled in how much time. If you’re lucky enough, the other person left a short note – perhaps how they came about it, or what they think of Georging. The picture with the bills includes a bill I recently found that was someone else’s bill on top (I left my own kitty stamp on it to help draw attention), and a bill I marked myself on the bottom.
When I first registered for the site back in 2005, I was writing the site name by hand. I soon discovered that many avid Georgers used stamps to make it easier on themselves (and easier to read for those who might pick up the bill), and was directed to stamp-connection.com, who even has their own Where’s George stamp section. I picked out a couple of them, and went to my local craft store to get stamp pads. The important thing to look for is that the stamp pad have archival-quality ink, acid free, and waterproof. If you’re going to stamp, you may as well make sure the ink will last a while. Here’s my collection below – it’s actually two sets (I misplaced one long enough to get irritated and get a second set), along with several picture stamps.
I’d enter, mark and spend a large bill or two, then repeat the process with the change I got. Not long after starting, I got my first hit, then another. It was kind of neat, every once in a while getting an email notification that a bill got a hit, and I was excited to log on and see where it had ended up. Initially, they were all local hits – I spent my money in a deli and someone got it as change for their lunch. But eventually they started traveling… other counties, then other states, and finally, some started seeing the world!
A side benefit to this was learning from the veteran Georgers about their own finds, fantastic stories, and just learning more about currency in general. I even began collecting old bills – nothing terribly valuable but different enough from today’s cash that it’s interesting.
Sure there have been times when I lost interest and didn’t mark up my money. But every so often I would get an email about a hit and the excitement of wanting to know where it ended up always got me back into it again.
Here is my most traveled bill ever! It ended up in Australia. Unfortunately it hasn’t been seen in about 5 years at this point, so it may have “retired” from traveling, but you never know who may have stuck it in a drawer to be found again! Hope you find this interesting enough to try Georging yourself!