Today, our friend Wayne is taking off for his last American adventure before heading back home to Australia. He hopped in his rental car this morning, and is heading off to Tuscon, Arizona, just a short, 14-hour drive away. Crazy!
When he first came to visit, I had my coin cleaning project drying on the table still, and that led to a discussion about our respective currencies. It’s always fascinating to me to learn the intricacies of another country’s currency, and to hear a native of that country explain it – because to them, it’s a normal, everyday thing, while to me it’s so new and different. I showed Wayne all the different State quarters I was collecting, and even pulled out some Australian coins we had from our one visit to Sydney, before starting on the cruise we all met on. Australia has $1 and $2 coins instead of bills, and their smallest bill is a $5. All of their bills are different colors, and while they’re all the same height, they each get a bit longer the more valuable the bill is.
Wayne explained that Australian bills (and New Zealand ones too) are actually made of plastic. They’re extremely tear-resistant, and water-proof. He even said if you put an Australian bill in the oven, it would shrink while keeping its shape and form – like a Shrinky Dink (something Nick hadn’t experienced until last year)! He said he knew that because he had a friend that did it, and while Wayne wasn’t there to see it actually take place, he’d seen his friend’s miniature $5 bill. Wayne even produced an Australian $5 to show how it indeed was made of plastic. There’s also a clear plastic window in the corner of the bill, and lots of other counterfeit-deterrent features on the bills – the $5 having the least though, since it’s the least valuable.
Well, in honor of Wayne’s visit, we decided to test the theory/story today. I tried to find more information online about people shrinking Australian bills, and actually did find a short article on the site Grand-Illusions.com, but the video in the article proved somewhat unhelpful. I wanted to see the bill shrinking in action, to see how it behaved in the oven, and I wanted more details on the temperature used. The bill on the site didn’t come out looking all that great, and I wanted to be sure our final product would look cool, so it wouldn’t just be a waste of a perfectly good $5. After all, we do intend to visit Australia again, so we could use the currency!
We decided that if we were going to shrink the bill, we might as well put a hole in it so we could attach it to a keychain, instead of just having a miniature, unusable Australian bill lying around the house. We punched a hole in one of the corners. Sorry, your majesty! It’s in the name of science!
The site said the note would shrink at “190 Centigrade” which works out to about 375 Farenheit. That actually is the temperature that Shrinky Dinks are supposed to be heated at, so I figured I’d go for 375F and hope. I made sure to preheat the oven, but also the pan, as I remembered that’s what the instructions from the Shrinky Dinks we used last year stated. Here’s what happened:
Super cool! Here’s Nick checking out the handiwork for some perspective on how tiny the bill actually got:
Before and After:
This was really neat – while of COURSE I’m not encouraging anyone to deface legal tender, we just couldn’t pass this one up. An Australian $5 Shrinky Dink. How awesome is that?! We only regret not doing this when Wayne was still here, since he was SO keen on shrinking the $5. Since he left it here when he headed out to Tuscon, we HAD to do this. In fact, I think that was his plan all along. You win again, Wayne!
Australian Banknotes Wikipedia Page