Have Coin, Will Travel

When I was a kid my grandma worked at our family bakery in San Francisco. Every Christmas she’d send me a jelly jar filled with foreign coins she had rescued from the till. I’d study my encyclopedia and geek out on the strange countries stamped in colorful metals of various shapes. Some depicted kings and queens, revolutionaries and dictators. Others showed fantastic animals, images of deities, plants and foreign script. Big ones fit snug in my hand and made me want to skip them across a pond, while some of the small ones were light enough to float in a…