People leave all kinds of objects in library books as bookmarks. Naked polaroids,playing cards, love notes, shopping lists, locks of hair, social security cards, used bandaids; I've seen almost everything you can think of that is flat enough to used as a bookmark. (no, not a condom; that's not really flat enough and would probably be oily if unrolled to make it un-flat). We also find money, usually dollar bills, though rarely you find higher denominations.
One of the circulation ladies opened a returned book to find 2 foreign pieces of currency marking the place. Even though the denomination was a 4-digit figure, anyone who's ever been to Italy knows that in many parts of the world, a 4 digit figure will often buy no more than a coffee and a muffin. My guess was that after the bank's comission, she'd have about 8 bucks if she converted the bills. She asked me to find out what the bills were worth. I checked online with a currency converter, was shocked at the answer, tried another site, and then checked the money section of the Wall Strret Journal to make sure the computer wasn't high on crack.
according to all three sources, each bill is worth between US$1000-1500. I am being purposefully vague about the denominations, county of origin and exchange rate to protect the idiot who left this money in a book and will presumably show up to claim it soon. Not that I think any of my local LJ readers would try to claim the money fraudulantly, but let's err on the side of paranoia anyway. Since the book was checked in before the money was found, we have no idea who the last person to check out the book was. The book is not remarkable enough that we'd remember who last checked it out (ie it's popular and gets checked out many times in a year).
So, what can we conjecture from this?
1) some people are so rich or so stupid that they don't re-exchange money after a vacation, or have so much of their native currency lying around that they use it as a bookmark.
2) maybe these bills are from the mid 80's or something, and economics are so weird that when the person acquired the bills, they were worth a lot less and therefore weren't worth exchanging. But since that time, either the balance of trade with that country has changed drastically, or the US rates are shitty because of the terrorism attacks, or maybe this county has been really doing well and I just never noticed.
3) Someone out there has been using bookmarks worth over $2000, and neglected to retrieve it before returning the book. Perhaps we should be Darwinian and not return their money should they try to claim it; anyone dumb enough to use a valuable item as a bookmark, or worse yet, dumb enough to hide their money in a book they don't even own, should perhaps suffer for their stupidity?
4) It is wise to keep your eyes open when checking in library books.