Uncle Scrooge & Money

Published in 1966 by Gold Key (Western Printing)
Art by Tony Strobl
Written by ????

The first appearance of Scrooge McDuck in animated form was the educational
short UNCLE SCROOGE AND MONEY (Not available on video, AFAIK, although
Braverman used sequences in his DTV video of "Money (That's What I Want.)") This is
the comic version of that short.

Huey, Dewey and Louie have saved up $1.95 and want Scrooge to turn it into a
fortune. Scrooge says he didn't get rich just be salting his money away.
"There was a time when salting it away was all you could have done, though."

And we're off to Scrooge's Money Museum, with an example of Roman soldiers'
wages paid in salt -- in Latin salarium, whence salary.

From there we're off on a history of money. On Scrooge's
Back-In-Time-O-Vision we see cavemen attempting to finalize a barter transaction. (The guy who's
asking for one-and-a-half live goats is just a troublemaker.) That leads to
mediums of exchange like rings, rings lead to coins, coins lead to bills, bills
lead to credit cards. But along the way we stop for so many "odd" and "unusual"
forms of money -- Yap Island giant stone coins, Chinese bamboo money, Mexican
soap money -- that the flow of events becomes quite choppy.

Strobl's art, as ever, is very clear and uncomplicated and he does a fine job
illustrating such examples as Malayan tree money and Rhodesian bronze bells.
It should also be pointed out that the (non-duck) characters are humans, not
black-nosed dogs. The various cultures are caricatured but not excessively so.

Then on the ninth page we leave this monetary genealogy for some simple

"But Unca Scrooge," say the nephews, "Why can't the government just print
more money so that there'll be lots of it to spread around?"

Of course that leads to inflation. Back in his board room Scrooge offers a
visual aid.

"Here! We have $500 in one dollar bills... every one of them backed by gold
in the government treasury! ... But now suppose we print five hundred more
WITHOUT additional gold to back them!" And he places a second stack on ones next
to the first. "Each bill is only worth fifty cents!"

"Aw, c'mon, Unca Scrooge! It still says they're worth one dollar right on
each bill!"

"Ah, but with suddenly twice as much money bidding for goods and services
that haven't increased in number... prices always go up! ... The upward spiral is
on... and the value of money plunges! When it takes this much money to buy
what your piggy bank can buy today... that will be the day your piggy bank won't
buy anything!"

"You mean, it's not how MUCH money, but how much it will BUY, that counts?"


(You know, I can't say this scene is unsuccessful, seeing as how I remembered
it after first reading it in 1966, and yet now I can't help but wonder why
the writer chose not to show the wheelbarrow-full-of-notes-for-a-loaf-of-bread
made famous in discussions of the Weimar Republic and Argentina. Seems to me
the stronger visual.)

Scrooge maintains the way to create wealth is to keep the money circulating.
"Suppose, for example, we invest this one thousand dollars in small firm
'A'... which then buys new equipment from firm 'B'! Firm 'B' spends some of the
money buying materials from firms 'C,' 'D,' and 'E'... all on paper, so our
$1,000 is really doing double, triple duty! Firm 'E' uses some of it to pay its
taxes... and this becomes part of the government check to firm 'F' for a new
bridge! And Firm 'F' deals with Firm 'G' which has 10,000 employees..."

"But, Unca Scrooge, we've lost track of where OUR money went"

"WHO CARES? We have a $1,000 part ownership of Firm 'A'... and now it has a
big contract with Firm 'H' and new profits rolling in from the sale of new
products 'M' to 'Q'..." (Scrooge is drawing flowcharts all through this, but they
don't clarify things.)

"Even some of the money that customers spend on 'M's' and 'Q's' might have
come from our original $1,000 by way of 'E,' 'D,' 'C,' and 'B'!" (And little
cats 'W,' 'X,' 'Y' and 'Z' ... oh, wrong story...)

"It's CIRCULATING! We get a quarterly dividend payment from 'A' because of
the profits on 'P,' 'D,' 'Q'! Our money started it all by CIRCULATING!"

And then Scrooge goes a little "Daffy," prancing around the boardroom. "Oh,
all those dollars CIRCULATING... CIRCULATING... to stir up profits for me! Just
prime the pump... That's the real make-money secret!"

The boys get Scrooge to settle down. He opens a window to cool off;
unfortunately a breeze comes in and blows the thousand one-dollar bills to the street,
where as you'd imagine the passers-by are overjoyed. "Mable, look! NINE
DOLLARS!" "Spending money! WHEE!" (This is 1966, remember...)

The words "spending money" strike a chord with Scrooge. He rushes into his
storage garage and drives out with a business he foreclosed on the day before:
an "instant carnival." A four-horse, open-top carousel and a two-gondola ferris
"wheel," with snack cart and souvenir stand attached. The kids work the
concessions (underage labor, but it's all right since they're relatives, I guess)
while Scrooge drives slowly up and down. As expected, parents have to dig into
their own reserves when the kids want another ride. (There must've been some
money-catchers who were childless and made a discrete exit.)

It's night when Scrooge and the boys tot everything up: "Total intake $2,054!
Subtract the original $1,000, plus $500 for wear and tear and supplies... and
our profit is $554, boys!" Whereupon Scrooge upends the cash drawer over his
head. "I love to prove my point THIS way!"

Man, how many rides would you have to sell, and at what prices, to end up
with over two grand? But that's the least of the discrepancies here. It turns out
the government thinks like the nephews did -- "It still says they're worth
one dollar right on each bill!" When Scrooge cries over the loss of standards,
he means gold.

Not to mention credit cards. Scrooge barely touched on them, but starting in
the sixties banks would send out thousands upon thousands of them with one
cent to the dollar in backing, if that. As a banker himself, would Scrooge stand
firm against this sea of easy credit, or try to cash in? Sometimes he could
fall prey to short-term thinking...

Moving on. Next is two text pieces and four "educational" comics about money
trivia -- I mean, facts. And then a Barks ten-pager featuring Donald and
Scrooge falling all over themselves trying to cash in on rare coins. Barks would go
over much the same ground, but more spectacularly, in his Atlantis story. Don
Rosa would also do a rare coin story, but he would use it to make jabs at
"collectors" who keep everything wrapped in plastic. (What COULD he mean?)

A text page on The United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing -- be still
my heart -- and a one-page gag we might call "Scrooge McDuck and the Blustery
Day": Scrooge wants to go outside and mail a letter, but he's afraid the wind
will blow away his nice $25 top hat, so he anchors it with a small money bag.
"It TAKES money to SAVE money!"

And that's it. Oh, I should also mention the back cover shows Scrooge being
neat by trimming the ends of dollar bills sticking out of his safe! You know
that ain't right, Scroogie...