>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.
was the closest. Turns out said country re/devalued their money in 1995, with a "10,000 old ones = 1 new one" scheme. After 1997, such bills as the ones found in the book were no longer legal tender. So basically, they can't be exchanged for any currency any longer. Which explains what they were doing in a book.
Hard to believe that money less than 10 years old from a country not at war or otherwise in major trouble could be worthless.
see, economics really is weird!