Travel

The money fix-it team

One of the most fascinating displays at the Visitor Center of the Western Currency Facility explains the work of the 19 examiners of the bureau's Mutilated Currency Division.

They're the people who piece together damaged money for people who want their bucks back.

One of them was a farmer from Iowa.

"A cow came up and ate the wallet out of his back pocket," said Charlene Williams, the facility's director. "He had plenty of filet mignon and beef from the cow, because he killed the cow, took the stomach, boxed it up and sent it in."

In another case, a dying man from Texas confessed to his wife that he'd been stashing money for their retirement behind the furnace. By the time she retrieved it, the bills had fused into one big block

Using tools such as small knives, tweezers, needles, tape and glue, the employees — most of whom enjoy jigsaw puzzles — reassembled the notes. The Iowa farmer was refunded $600; the Texas woman received $328,740.

The division, whose services are free, replaces about $30 million of mutilated money each year.

Free tours are offered year-round at the Western Currency Facility (www.moneyfactory.gov, [866] 865-1194) at 9000 Blue Mound Road on the outskirts of Fort Worth.

—Jay Jones

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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