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Friday, May 27, 2016

Can I exchange this certificate for gold?

“While cleaning out my mother’s house, I found a twenty-dollar bill that says “twenty dollars in gold coin payable to the bearer on demand.” It’s bigger than a regular twenty-dollar bill and it has George Washington on it. Can I really exchange it for gold?”

Our patron brought in a picture of their find and we were able to identify it as a 1922 series twenty-dollar gold certificate. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve History websites answered our patron’s question. While it can be redeemed for a regular twenty-dollar bill through any financial institution, it can no longer be exchanged for gold. In fact, for thirty years it was illegal to have a gold certificate.

Gold certificates circulated until December 28, 1933, until the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 withdrew all gold certificates, gold coin, and gold bullion from circulation. President Roosevelt gave the order that all privately-owned gold certificated be turned over to the Treasurer of the United States by midnight on January 17, 1934. It was then illegal to hold them until the restrictions were removed in 1964.

However, there is good news! According to the thirty-fourth edition of the Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money, a 1922 series twenty-dollar gold certificate in fine condition can be worth about two hundred dollars.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Is there a way to find out what was happening on a certain day in history, particularly during World War II?

In January, we answered a patron’s question about how to find an obituary that was published years ago, and that information is available on our library blog and is useful in knowing where to look for old local newspapers.

To see what was going on in any given year, we have Timetables of History by Bernard Grun, Chronology of World History by H.E.L. Mellersh, and Chronicle of the World by Jerome Burne and Derrik Mercer. These books are set up like timelines, documenting the important events that happened every year.

History, HistoryNet (publisher of several magazines including Military History), and the New York Times all have a “This Day in History” feature on their websites. The New York Times even includes a picture of the front page of the paper from a particularly significant date.

For World War II-specific information, World War II Database and both have timelines of the war that go day-by-day. We also have VFW’s Pictorial History of the Second World War, which is a chronological collection of captioned photographs.

For further research, the Newton Falls Public Library has an extensive collection of World War II nonfiction, including The Second World War by Antony Beevor, Eyewitness to World War II by Neil Kagan and Stephen G. Hyslop, and The War: An Intimate History 1941-1945 by Geoffrey G. Ward and Ken Burns.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Is this a good time to transplant roses?

According to,, The American Horticulture Society Encyclopedia of Gardening, and Rayford Clayton Reddell’s The Rose Bible, the best time to transplant roses is during their dormant season, which generally lasts from late winter until early spring. It’s best to wait until the threat of frost has passed, so early spring, from March to April, tends to be a good bet (though this has been an unusual year for weather, with snow in late April). While roses can be transplanted once they’ve started to bloom and grow, it’s more difficult.

Our resources gave a few tips for successful transplantation. Prune back the rose before moving it. When digging up the rose to move it, dig deep enough to get as much of the root ball as possible. Plant it in a well-prepared bed where no roses have previously grown and make sure to water it well after planting and not to fertilize it until it’s established.

For more information, check out Designing with Roses by Tony Lord, Rose Basics by Amanda Beales, and 365 Days of Gardening by Christine Allison.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Why the donkey and the elephant?

The election season having sparked their curiosity, one of our patrons commented on our Facebook page to ask who chose the donkey and the elephant to represent Democrats and Republicans.

According to Smithsonian Magazine and, it was the famous nineteenth-century political cartoonist Thomas Nast who linked the donkey and elephant to the Democratic and Republican parties, though he was not the first person to use the symbols.

The donkey had been used in reference to Democrat Andrew Jackson during his 1828 campaign. While it was meant as a criticism, Jackson reclaimed it as his own symbol, drawing attention to the donkey’s positive qualities of steadfastness and determination.

The elephant may have been based on the phrase “seeing the elephant,” which soldiers used to refer to having experienced combat. It was first used in an Abraham Lincoln campaign newspaper in 1864, where it was depicted celebrating Union victories.

For more information, the biography Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons by Fiona Deans Halloran is available through CLEVNET