Consumers blurred by NIS 20/20 vision

Some of the durable polypropylene polymer bills carry a special inscription declaring "60 years of the state of Israel."

money 20 nis 88 (photo credit: )
money 20 nis 88
(photo credit: )
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The latest urban legend swirling around the country's water coolers focuses on the new NIS 20 bills that the Bank of Israel added into circulation in April. A certain percentage of the durable polypropylene polymer bills carry a special inscription in red ink on their backside declaring "60 years of the state of Israel." According to the gristmill, these bills are actually the equivalent to the "golden ticket" that Charlie Bucket was lucky enough to find in his chocolate bar in the Willy Wonka books and films, and are actually worth many times more than their face value. "Make sure you check all your twenties," said a Jerusalem garden shop cashier this week. "My neighbor found one with red print on it, she brought it in to the Postal Bank, and they gave her NIS 480 for it." A quick survey of other establishments corroborated the belief that there was gold in them thar bills. "Yeah, the government printed them as a birthday present for everyone," said the corner grocery man. "I'm saving one whenever a customer pays with one." Alas, a call to The Bank of Israel's currency department brought everything down to earth. "I know all about this, you're not the first person to ask," said a BOI representative. "It's nonsense. Those bills are worth NIS 20." When asked how many of the collectors-item bills were printed with the red message, she curtly answered, "That's something you don't need to know." The deflating news didn't discourage some people, like Netanya resident Denis Phillips who, not even aware of the "red" rumors, has been collecting the specialty bills. "I'm just saving them for the sake of it, because of the 60th anniversary wish," Phillips said. "I've got about five so far. Maybe they'll be worth more some day." And if not, at least it's been a good water cooler story in a week of more harmful financial speculation.