CoinWeek Podcast #153: Collecting Currency with Arthur Friedberg
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In this episode of the CoinWeek Podcast, Charles Morgan and Chris Bulfinch talk to noted paper money expert Arthur Friedberg about the popularity of paper money collecting, how U.S. paper money designs would benefit from a complete overhaul, and how the Freidberg currency guide has changed the paper money collecting hobby forever.
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The following is a transcript of Charles and Chris’s conversation with Arthur Friedberg
Charles Morgan: Hi, Art. Thanks for joining us on the CoinWeek Podcast, or I guess this week, it’ll be the CurrencyWeek Podcast.
Arthur Friedberg: Well, it’s good to be with you.
Charles: There’s a lot of interesting things that have been developing in recent years when it comes to currency. Of course, you have the grading of currency, and that has led to new pricing levels, which I’m sure complicate matters for you, as you put out your annual edition of the Paper Money of the United States. Also, we’ve seen some major currency collections come up for sale in recent years, including the collection of the Joel R. Anderson paper money collection of US notes, including many of the finest known examples and many million-dollar notes. There’s also a matter of currency being called into question about the representation of the notes, so the design of the notes, the BEP is constantly evaluating and updating our designs, although it seems like we never really get a major overhaul on who’s on it, and that looks like it may change with Harriet Tubman.
Lot to talk about, and so we want to get started and just get in the basics first. What prompted you to get into currency and start your research?
Arthur: Well, this started out many, many years ago before the Second World War, even as a family business, where my dad was just a coin dealer, operating out of his apartment in Queens, New York. Then, he went off to war, spent part of the war going through villages in Belgium, buying coins and sending them back, and got back after the war and moved full time into the coin business. Within coins, he also obviously dealt with paper money – which was in those days cheaper than dirt. If you look at the results of the Grinnell sale in 1944–which is still considered today the greatest collection of paper money ever assembled–the prices were nothing. Notes that are selling for hundreds of thousands now sold for $140 in the Grinnell sale. My dad took his business, and then he also decided to start doing a couple of books, one of which was Paper Money of the United States, which is what we’re talking about today.
The first edition was… that was back in 1953, and he did something which no one had been able to do before then, and that’s publish pictures of the United States currency, because it wasn’t allowed. Somehow, he got permission from the Secretary of the Treasury to reproduce the photos as long as they were black and white–which they still should be black and white, in my opinion–and as long as they were less than 75% or more than 150%, of actual size. That was the first edition in 1953. Right now, we’re working on the 22nd, which should be in the middle of this year.
Charles: I always look at numismatic study as a forensic science. We don’t often get the full accounting from the issuing authority of what they’re doing. Government reports are notoriously wrong from time to time. How much do you think coming into creating this standard reference was widely known by the numismatic community about the issue of United States currency? Do you think there’s quite a bit of mystery that needed to be unraveled before something like this could be put together?
Arthur: Paper money collecting until the middle of the last century was an ugly stepsister. Paper money collectors were called “rag pickers”. They were looked down upon by coin collectors. I think the only one of the reasons that paper money collecting became more popular was as coins became more and more expensive, and for some of the United States coins became ridiculous, frankly, people realize that there were bargains to be had and paper money, where you could actually trace much easier than coins how many were known because there’s this really odd thing about paper money, each one has its own unique number.
Charles: Right. Do you think that switching to clad coinage and untethering coins from precious metals also might have had an impact on people going back and looking at silver certificates and gold certificates in a new light?
Arthur: I think that when we went from silver to clad, and then we had the famous June 30th, 1968 deadline, where if you had a silver certificate until– I think it was June 30th, I mean, you can check me on that. [According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), the cut-off date was June 24, 1968. —CoinWeek]
If you had a silver certificate up until that date, you could bring it into a bank or into the government, and they will give you $1 worth of silver for it. That created a boom in awareness of paper money, I think, unlike we’ve had since. I remember to this day, flying around the country, picking up silver certificates on the last day, because silver was going up and the notes were trading at a premium.
Charles: Right, that was the 1857 large cent moment, where people were redeeming them for small pennies at that point, because you turn them in, or you–[crosstalk]
Arthur: Yeah, it was great. But right after that, anyone who’s left in silver certificates, you’re pretty shocked. [laughs] Some are still only worth $1.10. It did create a lot of interest. I think the red seals created a lot of interest. You’ll remember after 1963, basically, Federal Reserve notes took over. When people saw this old money, the blue seal silver certificates, the red seals, the brown seal national banknotes, even though a lot of them aren’t worth anything, that created a lot of interest in the money. I’m not quite so sure that the going from silver to clad really had anything to do with it as much as collectors looking for something else to collect. I always thought that the early clad coins and uncirculated would sooner or later be really, really scarce because no one wanted them at the time. I really don’t know how that’s worked out. Although I think some of the early clad coins in top condition are nice… but nothing like silver coins.
Arthur: And that’s too bad because copper-nickel clads are tougher to strike.
Chris Bulfinch: Yeah. You mentioned a few minutes ago that when your father was putting together the book initially back in the 1950s, that he had obtained permission from the Treasury to reproduce images of the notes for the book. Could you elaborate a little bit on why he had to go get that permission? Was it illegal to create images?
Arthur: It was totally illegal, you’d go to jail. Oh, yeah. Yeah, basically it’s a counterfeiting statute. That’s why you have to be mystified why– I don’t know how long it was, 20 years ago. All of a sudden, they started allowing you to reprint the notes in color. The story was that a congressman or a government official of some kind of collected paper money, decided that he wanted the notes to be in color, and that’s why. I don’t know if that’s a true story or just a fantasy. In many ways, if you think United States paper money is used all over the world. One thing people don’t know is that, for instance, our $100 bill, 65% of them I think are not even in this country, they’re used overseas. Where people aren’t as familiar with the country, why do you make it easier for someone to run them through a copy machine and use them? I think that was a mistake, but it’s good for marketing books, so I’m thrilled that way.
Charles: Yeah, somebody has to deal with graphics on a regular basis. It’s a pain for us, because it’s difficult to illustrate an article about paper money when Photoshop won’t allow you to import the images to do any sort of manipulation on.
Arthur: Well, there’s a way, I mean, we all run into that. there are ways around that, which I’ll be happy to tell you about some time, but not on this.
Charles: Right. One of the things that strikes me and again, I think Art’s Paper Money of the United States book is, should be, a standard reference for any collector.
Arthur: Thank you.
Charles: Even if you’re not somebody who would routinely specialize in paper money, you should have it. You never know you could pick something really interesting at your local shop or at a show. One of the things that strike me is when you go through this book is how ornate and elegant and prolific the government was in designing notes throughout the history of our use of paper money. At least throughout my lifetime, although there’s been several iterations of the $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 bill, there really hasn’t been a real overhaul, but we want these notes to look like. They weren’t afraid of doing it early on. You have the “Battlefield” note, you have the “Watermelon” note, you have all these different notes. Now, I guess it’s contentious because we’re looking at replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman. Do you think that perhaps we’re long overdue to rethink all of these notes and maybe redesign the entire series?
Arthur: You might not have read my article in last week’s Coin World, I’m not sure if the print edition is out yet. We ran a story, which I happen to find in, of all things, Foreign Policy magazine, which makes no sense at all. Basically, what the guy said was US paper money is too static and too conservative. He basically closed it out by pointing out that the youngest person on our currently circulating money is Ulysses Grant. He contrasted that with Canada, which even though they have old white politicians on the front of their notes, on the back sides, they have become very contemporary, and the new five should be really interesting. It will either be Terry Fox, who did the race across Canada for cancer, or probably a Native American. Even Japan, they use art on the back that you’d never see on this. England, even though the Queen’s on one side, they use modern historical figures on the other. Yeah, I mean, art paper money, it’s–
Charles: Even the Queen of England’s younger than Ulysses Grant.
Arthur: That’s true. Yeah, not by much.
Arthur: Grant died in 1885, so take it from there. In my opinion, it’s crazy. It hasn’t always been this way.
Charles: Yeah, but I think we’ve seen it with our coins, right? I think we’ve developed, like, an imperial coinage where we’ve turned these former elected officials into like emperors that remain on coins forever. I mean, it’s almost unpolitic to imagine somebody saying, it’s time to replace Jefferson with something else, because what can live up to Jefferson? What can live up to Washington?
Arthur: Donald Trump did say it was time to replace Jefferson with Jackson on the $2 bill when they wanted to put Tubman on the $20. Trump obviously didn’t realize that Jefferson was on a $2 bill. Trump didn’t know that we had a $2 bill.
Charles: Do you think changing the currency would have– I mean, I would imagine, as collectors, it’d have a good impact on the hobby.
Arthur: It would be the best thing that ever happened to collecting, number one. Number two, it would be the best thing that could happen to the country, because a country’s money reflects what it is, and that’s part of what this article says. A country’s money reflects what it is and what it believes. This country is not a bunch of ancient white men anymore, nor is it a bunch of old symbols. We really should be thinking about doing what Secretary [Jacob] Lew proposed back in 2016. Hopefully, the new administration will go ahead and will bring us some change to the $5, the $10, and the $20. Although we really don’t know what order it’s going to be. The BEP says the $20 is not supposed to be the first but rather the last because their security needs are more for others, but we’ll see what happens. Currency design is not subject to congressional approval. It’s strictly the domain of the Secretary of the Treasury. Congress has a say on coins, because it says so in the Constitution. The Constitution doesn’t say anything about paper money.
Charles: Would you be in favor of the BEP starting a series of commemorative banknotes?
Arthur: I would like to see it but you’re not going to see it. It’s not going to happen, okay? And they will say the reason is because the purpose of the money is to facilitate commerce, and United States money is used so much all over the world, unlike a lot of these others, that it would be too confusing. Of course, having said that, the $2 bill, Federal Reserve note from 1976, was essentially a commemorative banknote. They issued for the purpose of the Bicentennial and that’s why they took Trumbull’s portrait of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and put it on the back.
Charles: Yeah, people love the $2 bill sort of as a collectible, even though it’s not particularly rare. It’s just not prevalently used.
Chris: I’ve read stories of people getting arrested trying to spend $2 bills, though, because cashiers don’t always believe that they’re real. Yeah, they’re definitely cool notes.
Arthur: Well, yeah. There’s no drawer for them either in the till.
Chris: [laughs] Right.
Chris: Why do you think designs of US paper money have remained static for as long as they have? It seems we’ve had the basic designs on our paper money, at least the central designs, have remained largely the same since the late ’20s. Why do you think that is?
Arthur: Conservatism. There’s no other– [crosstalk]
Chris: Aesthetic or political conservatism, or both?
Arthur: All of the above. Yeah, there’s no other reason, they could have changed, but they just don’t want to. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing will always tell you, “Well, the purpose of currency redesign is always security.” Yeah, it’s always security, but you can build security around other devices too. That’s a little bit disingenuous on their part, but they’re never going to not say it, so we might as well accept it.
Charles: We’ve had four years essentially of continuance of the status quo as far as the Jackson note, but in your research, did you ever dig into just how far the BEP got with their redesign of the– [crosstalk]
Arthur: They will not talk about it.
Charles: [crosstalk] -sort of put on hold?
Arthur: I will make a conjecture that is totally speculative, that has no basis in any research, interviews, factor anything… but they were working on it. When they were instructed to stop working on it, they thus stashed it away and didn’t destroy it. I’m pretty sure they just whipped it out and started working on it again. I can’t imagine that that’s not the case.
Charles: One of the things that I think about this note that actually kind of makes me concerned about it is that I think because it’s become such a political football, that in the eventuality or assumption that it ever does get released, I have a feeling that a lot of these notes are going to be mutilated or defaced or whatever. I don’t know if the proponents of the design change and putting Tubman on the note realize that, like, they’re going to be barreling into conflict, whether or not they imagined it or not. It’s going to happen, and then we’re going to have to have public stories about people with notes with egregious public comments all scrawled on it.
Arthur: Well, I believe it’s a felony to deface United States currency. Okay, you can take a sticker and put it over the face of it to sell a souvenir, but defacing it is against the law. If someone wishes to do that, I guess they take their fate into their own hands. It might happen, but it might not. I’d be more concerned about a $1 bill, which of course, they cannot change. Congress has mandated that the $1 bill design cannot be changed. To go to war on a $20 bill, that takes a little bit more conviction.
Chris: Would it be legal to use a rubber stamp to apply text or an ink design that you stamp on to it, does that count as defacing?
Arthur: I’m not sure about that. You’re not defacing it, I think you can do that.
Chris: Well, so then I guess that would provide an avenue for the people Charles is concerned about to potentially put, as he put it, egregious public comment on to the notes. My heart and hope is that people don’t do that, but it’s possible if they would.
Arthur: In every group, you’ll find a couple of nuts.
Chris: That’s absolutely true.
Arthur: We don’t spend our lives worrying about the nuts. We spend our lives worrying about most of the people. I think most of the people will be fine with it. They will do a lot of marketing, they will do a lot of explanations. Hopefully, it’ll be done in good taste, and I’m pretty sure it will. But it’s time to get rid of Andrew Jackson, for sure.
Charles: Do you have any opinions on the use of polymer for banknotes as opposed to the sort of the cloth we use?
Arthur: The US government swears that the cotton linen, 75% – 25%, that they use is better than polymer.
Polymer is odd. If you put it in a microwave, it’ll get really interesting. People are somehow managing to use the polymer base to change dominations. In certain countries, in certain humid climates, polymer makes more sense than paper. But it does have a really, really odd feel to it. The BEP says they can do as much with counterfeit protection on the cotton linen, as they can on polymer. De La Rue would disagree with them. If you’d look at De La Rue’s website this week, they have a new display of their house note where they take all their features and show the things they can do with it. Of course, De La Rue is the biggest polymer manufacturer in the world, so they have a stake in it. But for certain places, I think it works, some certain countries probably just don’t want to use it. I wouldn’t say never, but it would be a long time if we ever see it here.
Charles: Something that concerns me, I think about the longevity of coins is, if you go back to 1857, they eliminate the half cent. The half cent I think, if you adjust for inflation, at that point, probably had a purchasing power of about 11 cents today, maybe more. If we take that as the value of it today, then you essentially today only have the quarter that circulates that had more value than the lowest denomination coin that they got rid of back then because it was valueless. There’s no way that the half dollar will ever come back in its current size. There’s no way I think that the dollar coin will circulate because there’s a $1 Federal Reserve Note and because $1 just isn’t valuable anymore, to the point where you’d want to go buy your lunch and coins. Without introducing maybe $2.50 or $2 coin or a $5 coin, we’re probably only a decade or so away from all US circulating coins being entirely obsolete. We have been running into resistance between the two industries, the minting industry, and the paper money industry, supply industry creating these notes, I don’t see anybody ever on the paper money side being willing to give up the $1 note or the $5 bill, and then going to $10, $20, $50, $100, $250 notes.
Arthur: Yeah. Of course, the other question is, with the $100 being the highest note, the $500 today would be the equivalent of what the $100 was.
Charles: Like in the ’80s. Yeah.
Arthur: [crosstalk] Yeah. About coins, back when they were developing the euro, and I was working with a lot of European mints at the time, they did a study, and they found that no coin will circulate effectively if its diameter is greater than 30 millimeters. The problem you have with paper vis-à-vis coins is, well, you’d think that the higher denomination, the lower denomination should go to coin, but what kind of coin do you do. If you’ve ever spent a lot of time walking around the UK with a pound coin, if you had £5 or £10 coins in your pocket, you’d be wearing a hole in your pocket because they were so heavy. That’s the same thing with the Swiss 5-franc coin that is utterly impossible to use.
Charles: We’ve just gotten to the point where because coins really have no intrinsic value, worth trading that coins essentially are just change-making counters or tokens, so they’ll never be more than that?
Arthur: The coins are tax tokens, essentially, I mean this one cent came into being really because for tax purposes, that’s what it was used for the most part in recent times. The Euro countries have basically gotten rid of their one- and two-cent coins completely, because the way they do their retail pricing, VAT is included and it’s always rounded to the nearest five or 10, so there’s absolutely no reason for the one and two-cent euro coins. Basically, if you want to get one or two Euro coins for most of these countries, now you better buy the mint set because then they’re not making them.
Charles: Well, I even contemplate the possibility that since 1982 or 1983 the US Mint hasn’t created a one-cent coin that’ll ever wear down to the grade of Good because the coins will disintegrate before they actually wear that long.
Arthur: Not only does it cost more than a cent to make the cent, now it cost more than five cents to make the nickel.
Charles: Right. What do you think about the current– I think we all agree that the future of coins is probably kind of dire. What do you feel about the future of physical paper money in light of the fact that for anti-counterfeiting reasons, most major governments have demonized the use of cash and have refused to issue large denomination notes anymore?
Arthur: Well, large domination notes, that reason it’s pretty obvious. It’s against money laundering and tax evasion. What’s interesting is with the pandemic, demand for paper is as high now as it’s ever been. Everyone’s working like crazy. What people are doing is they’re saving it. I think paper will always be a store value. I’m skeptical that it’s ever going to go away. People want it, lots of people don’t have access to a bank account all the time. They don’t want to use plastic all the time. They like to use cash and I think there will be a segment that always will use cash. Part of the reason for the high denomination notes being saved more now is, of course, a lot of banks in Europe are now charging people to put money in the bank. If you have negative interest rates, you’re better off taking the money and putting it in your mattress than put it in the bank. It’s worth more to you that way. I’m skeptical of that. I don’t think that it’s as dire as people say about money being nonexistent. For years, currency has been a very, very small part of the amount of currency in circulation. Most of the money in circulation is electronic and always has been.
Charles: I think our forecast about the future of paper money is a little bit brighter than some people’s forecasts about the future of coins, or the continued issuance and circulation of coins. How do you think that– assuming that cash remains in common use, where do you see paper money collecting going in the future? Do you think that hobby stands a good chance of expanding? How do you see it changing?
Arthur: There will always be collectors. I think the biggest problem that the collecting industry has always faced is the demographics of its collecting base. That to me is the biggest danger, getting younger people involved in it. I’m not going to talk about that. Thousands of people have spent countless hours talking about what it takes to bring new collectors in. The bottom line is, as long as I’ve been in this business, it hasn’t really changed. The reason it hasn’t changed is the collector’s lifecycle is you start out collecting coins when you’re a child, you collect coins, paper, money, whatever, you collect them until you’re a teenager. When you’re a teenager, most people find other interests, either sports, some socializing, then they usually go to college, then they have a family, and their money is tied up. Finally, when they get to their 50s, there’s some disposable income again, and that’s when they remember back when they were a kid, “Gee, I collected coins, I collected paper money,” and they start all over again. That’s why we’ve always had the same demographic.
Chris: That reminds me of the 30, 40, 50 middle-age crowd of people who love Marvel movies. It’s like you’re returning to something you liked. You’re returning to an interest or a hobby that engaged you as a kid. How do you feel to return– let’s look backwards a little bit more historically. You mentioned earlier in this interview that collectors of paper money were once referred to pejoratively as rag pickers. When did attitudes about paper money as a collectible begin to shift and what prompted that shift? You mentioned the redemption of silver certificates in the late 1960s.
Arthur: I’m too young in this business at my age to know. I would say it really started shifting in the mid-70s when it became more accepted as a means of collecting. Before that, it really was specialized. Now everyone will do it, and certainly, notes have taken their place as expensive as some coins, but I don’t think it was before the ’70s.
Charles: Well, I think of the Binion $10,000 bill display at his casino, he had a huge silver dollar collection, those were sexy coins. I mean, he really made that that high denomination money, something you wouldn’t see very often, especially in quantity really interesting and attractive to people. There is sort of an allure to seeing opulent wealth [crosstalk] paper money.
Arthur: That was a tourist attraction. The Binion notes still sell, some of them for over $100,000 each, depending on the condition. For those who don’t know, Binion was a casino owner in Las Vegas, who got hundred $10,000 notes all from the New York Federal Reserve district and assembled them in a horseshoe to display in his casino. Then there was a family fight of some kind or another and they had to split it all up and collectors can still buy them today if they have the money.
Chris: Yeah. It’s funny, mentioning the $10,000 notes makes me think it’s really obscure, I only ever heard about this because I was researching it for a piece I was writing. There’s a big mural of a $1 bill outside what used to be the bursar’s office at MIT and someone painted over– a bunch of people came, I shouldn’t say painted, they use some kind of a covering, to turn the $1 bill into a series 1918 $10,000 Federal Reserve Note, which it’s kind of a funny prank. It also reflects, like Charles said, the kind of fixation on opulent wealth manifested in paper money. I’m curious to return to the issue of collecting for a second, how do you feel that Paper Money of the United States and all of its editions since 1953, how do you feel that Paper Money of the United States has impacted the hobby? What do you think that book’s legacy is?
Arthur: Well, I’ll tell you what people tell me.
Chris: [laughter] Fair enough.
Arthur: What they tell me is, is the book made the hobby of paper money collecting, and it feels nice that when you read a website today, people say, “You still have to get that book.” We try to be honest, we try to be straight, we don’t put prices in to make anyone happy, we try to put a proper reflection of the snapshot in time. We also try to keep adding little sections to the book of more esoteric things. We added posted envelopes a couple of editions ago. In this next edition for the first time, we’re going to include a section on postal notes, which is another one of the vestiges of the Civil War when there was a shortage of small change, and people needed it to make money, so they were looking for all sorts of ways to satisfy the need for small change that didn’t exist because of the coin shortage. We always tried to bring more to it. We also tried to keep it not-gouge prices. People complained a little bit when we had only a hardcover edition because it was too expensive. Now, we do two editions, hard and soft. We also do an eBook. If I can make a pitch for the eBook, if you want to look at currency to see what it really looks like, get the eBook, put it on your computer screen and start increasing the size and look at the notes. That way, you will see things you’ve never ever seen before. The artistry of engraving that goes into these is, it’s something that I still do and it astounds me.
Charles: You also have a very good section in your book detailing and explaining different process errors, the way paper money errors are made and released. Did you pay any attention or have any comment on that moon money that was made for that Del Monte sticker error, probably purposeful error that was auctioned recently?
Arthur: Well, the auctioneer estimated at $25,000 to $50,000. If you’re a good auctioneer, you always estimate a little bit low to get people interested, but I don’t think anyone anticipated that it would go for that much. The only reason it could have is because there must have been two people that wanted it. I figured it would be around 100, to be honest. Not more than that. Either someone who’s very, very lucky or someone is going to be very regretful if they ever tried to sell it. I don’t know who the buyer was, but that remains to be seen. I’m happy for the auctioneer, I’m happy for the consigner.
Charles: Are those kinds of pop culture errors popular or common? Things like this pop up, or you have the convergence of a commercial product like that a sticker on a note or some type of waiver–?
Arthur: I’ve never heard of anything like that. There’s still dispute about how did it get there? Was it an accident or was it a disgruntled employee who was having a really bad day, and he decided to take his lunch and stick part of it on a sheet of notes? We just don’t know. It’s certainly interesting. I mean, everyone knows now without, when you go to the checkout counter, if you have a banana, you don’t even have to look, you just punch in 4011. Which I found out the 4 means it’s not organic.
Chris: In terms of world notes, are there a lot of nations throughout the world that do what some small countries do and license certain commercial properties out for their coins? I’m thinking of Niue, I think they have Star Wars coins, and they might not be Niue, but there are Simpsons coins and Star Wars coins that are issued by some of these small.
Arthur: Basically, marketers have agreements with these smaller issuing authorities, where they can get the imprimatur of legal tender status on a commemorative coin, which makes it easier to sell because it’s the coin, although I would dispute that and easier to get across borders without paying duty, because there’s no duty on legal tender coinage, whereas there would be a duty on metal, and that’s where a lot of that comes from. I don’t think you’re going to see currency-issuing authorities going to that extent. They will issue things for their own purposes, but not open up their presses for private marketing opportunities. I’d be shocked if I saw that happen.
First, remember, coins are subsidiary now to paper. Paper has a more– I don’t want to say more serious use– a more real-world everyday use than a lot of these coins would. A lot of the coins, the aspect that’s interesting is, they have a face value of say $5 and the country will put a $5 legal tender status on it, but it has $25 or $30 worth of silver. No one’s going to ever go and cash it in for face value unless either they’re a nut or they’re trying to prove a point, which someone did with one mid-Pacific Island a while back.
Chris: It also strikes me that paper doesn’t have the same– you can’t make the same shapes of paper notes that you can with coins. Again, from some of these small issuing authorities, I’ve seen coins that are shaped like animals and things like that, and you really couldn’t get away with that with paper money.
Arthur: Oh, don’t broadcast this because someone might try.
Charles: Or, you’re going to have an origami or something.
Chris: [crosstalk] -I want credit for it. [laughs]
Arthur: Yeah. I don’t want to go there.
Charles: You’re from Essex Junction, Vermont. Isn’t that the location that the Bernie Sanders mitten knitter is from?
Arthur: Oh, every farmer’s market, you see Bernie’s mittens.
Arthur: Oh, yeah. The coat sold out at Burton’s.
Charles: Right. It just seems to me like every time I’ve heard of New England as somebody from the South, it seems like a fantasy land of agrarian America with sophisticated, independent, highly educated people with different industries that you don’t see in America anymore. It’s sort of my idealization of it.
Arthur: It’s just like anyplace else, except colder. Hey, we’ve had four days about freezing this week, so it’s a good week.
Charles: Then, do you think we’ll ever see a president from New England that’ll take the country by storm? Is there something about New England’s politics that will breakthrough for the rest of the country?
Arthur: I don’t know. We have town meetings. We’re having a town meeting the next week, everyone is supposed to participate in direct democracy and go to the town meeting and cast their votes. We did an absentee, of course.
Charles: [crosstalk] -you all of each other– [chuckles] All right. Well, Arthur, I appreciate you taking your time today.
Arthur: It’s my pleasure. Thanks. Thanks for asking. It has been fine.
Charles: All right. Take care. Have a good one.
Arthur: Okay, guys, thanks.
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