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4 Jan 2010

A Cumbrian Totnes Pound Quandry

Just got this great email…

“I am treasurer of a church in Cumbria and we have received a Totnes Pound note in our collection box. Is it worth anything or do we just throw it away?”

totnespound6How on earth did a Totnes Pound find itself in Cumbria, and why would someone think to put it in the church collection box?  My mind is boggled.  Anyone out there got any advice for our cumbrian church treasurer, given that driving to Totnes to change it back into a Pound sterling would not really be cost effective?

Categories: Local Currencies

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Mike Grenville
4 Jan 6:08pm

There is one on eBay right now for £2.16 +$3p&p so with a little effort it could be turned into more right away.

Or he could keep it as an investment as they might be worth more in the future.

Margaret Weiner
4 Jan 6:13pm

What an opportunity to spread the word about Transition Towns a bit.

David Lyons
4 Jan 6:14pm

This raises a question about how people leak out local currencies. I have bought a number of local currency notes (eg. on transition training, B£ launch)and circulated them outside of their town as an illustration of transition in practice – hard evidence.

Alternative currency notes are an excelent advert and that they are sold on demonstrates they are real currenc – especially the higher value ones (one of my work colleagues bought a B£10 from me).

The downside is of course is that they are less likely to circulate in the local economy – their primary purpose. However I like to think that notes sold on will encourage the buyer to visit the originating town to have the fund of using them – thus bring in ‘transition tourism’. My colleague who bought the B£10 planned to visit The Fridge nightclub!

And as the majority of notes have a ‘use by’ date, the originating local currency group gets to keep the value at the end of period of validity if the notes stay out of circulation.

The request from the church in Cumbria is another opportunity to explain to people what Transition is about….and the person who donated it has stimulated the treasurer to find out about transition!

What are peoples thoughts on currencies ‘leaking out’?

David Lyons, Transition Thame & District

David Lyons
4 Jan 6:46pm

Ps – to answer the question – the treasurer could pass the note to a church of his/her denomination in Totnes – I assume they accept such donations?

4 Jan 7:35pm

Why don’t you offer to send him something from Totnes for the equivalents value? Something like seeds or some local Totnes produce?
Surely the part of the wider remit of local currency is also to encourage specified and more targeted collaboration between communities.

Paul O' Flynn
4 Jan 7:42pm

I agree with David,where large countrywide institutions come into the equation.

Peter Bralesford
4 Jan 9:45pm

An odd one, that I will say.

Well, it would probably be viable to send it through the post to Transition Towers in Totnes… or they could always try and persuade a shop in Cumbria to take it… I’d like to see the CCTV footage of that! 🙂

Corrina McFarlane
4 Jan 9:54pm

Dear Treasurer of Cumbrian Church,

What an unimagined blessing that a Totnes Pound found its way into the collection box of your Beloved Community. As the waters from our streams flow into rivers and to the sea, so our currencies cannot be bound by the lines {towns/counties/borders} humans draw in the sand.

Think: currency=current=flow. Tides are turning. Celebrate that this Totnes pound found its way ‘up North'(!) THAT is indeed a happy streaming! Even if you were only to frame the very first one you ever saw, its presence in your midst, the very spirit of it, will beneficially influence your collective well being.

Jennifer Lauruol
4 Jan 10:24pm

Well, Transition City Lancaster hasn’t launched a local currency yet, but I would love to exchange the Cumbrian travelled Totnes Pound for one with the Queen’s head on it–if she would like to get in touch.
Which town in Cumbria was it? Do they already have a Transition group?

Jennifer Lauruol
4 Jan 10:25pm

Ooops! I mean, if the lady in Cumbria would like to get in touch, not the Queen!
(Though I’d be happy to make the Queen welcome too.

John Boshier
5 Jan 2:01am

I’ve got one in my wallet that I got in change at the talk that Naresh and Sophie gave in Totnes last spring. Every shop I went in after that in Totnes wouldn’t take it. I’m now living in Wales so will probably never get the chance to use it, unless I have a visit from a Totnes resident!

John McGeechan
5 Jan 10:59am

Aside from all the practical issues for remedying the situation – of which there have been several very good suggestions – this makes me smile for 2 reasons…

– I admire the chutzpah/brassneck/cheek of the individual that made the donation

– the recipient was initially bewildered by the srange donation but rapidly gathered their senses enough to get in contact and ask if it was worth anything. Outrage tempered by economic pragmatism.

Truly, the lord moves in mysterious ways…..

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by GreenFeed, TT web: Ed Mitchell. TT web: Ed Mitchell said: Totnes pound in Cumbrian church collection box: (NB web project: ensure drupal framework can handle future exchange) […]

Andrew Ramponi
5 Jan 1:42pm

This raises several thoughts from someone with no practical experience of a local currency.

1 How much more is a Totnes£ worth than a £GB? Do people give more in exchange? I’d guess often in terms of value the answer might be yes. If so the Totnes £ is increasing, slowly, in value against the £GB, at least amongst those who strive to use it. To what end?

2 Currencies evolve from being a means of exchange between a smaller group to a larger group, you get amalgamation and in some cases a new currency taking over (eg euros).

Perhaps the Totnes£ could evolve into the local currency of choice throughout the UK, signifying local choice wherever it was exchanged? Do we really need an individual currency for each locality? This could start within the Transition groups.

All very complicated and I dare say even far fetched, but really, why not? Of course, maybe it’s more appropriate to ask, why…?

5 Jan 6:25pm

Perhaps the minister might want to use this as an excuse to
talk about Transition (“If you want to prepare for peak oil, join a church choir”)
or to ruminate on a bible verse or so (Rich men and eyes of a needle, render unto Caesar, &etc)
or to ask about how we are rethinking lucre, community and values in the midst of the Great Recession.

5 Jan 6:36pm

Take the logical next step and create a community bank,
See: and especially the video on that page.

michael Dunwell
5 Jan 7:37pm

Sounds like the olive (?) leaf the dove brought back to Noah. Prepare to re-populate the planet with Transitioners…

5 Jan 8:26pm

I think it would be really helpful to have some sort of exchange rate between local currencies.

When I was at Findhorn, people would often buy their local currency as a sort of souvenir of their trip. While I guess that’s not ideal in some ways, as the currency didn’t circulate back into the Findhorn system, it did give the ecovillage some more money to invest, and it allowed for the visitor to educate people back home, so it seems like an important purpose was served.

As for the person who put the Totnes pound into the collection plate…they got all of us talking, didn’t they????

Pete North
7 Jan 4:00pm

use it as inspiration to set up a local currency for Cumbria – perhaps look for inspiration at Berkshire County in the US which has a currency that circulates at a county level. You have some lovely mountains to decorate the notes with…. look at

more ideas like this will be in the ‘Local Money’ book, out in March

7 Jan 4:53pm

Umm, that’s

But still a great idea!

12 Jan 12:44am

Auction it at the next fundraising event. My local church used to auction off produce after the annual harvest festival. People would bid up to 50 quid for a marrow since they thought it was in a good cause. Admittedly Cumbrians might be less gullible, but think of the scarcity value of a Totnes Pound! We can safely predict they’ll be scrambling over the pews to get their bids in.
Alternatively, it could be used as a raffle prize: ‘Gift token for a (budget-conscious) family holiday in Devon’.

Adam Snell
20 Jan 8:08pm

I cant believe that so may people have bothered to talk about this tosh! Its one lousy quid – scarcely worth more than the stash of cash I have in my Monopoly set! I’d get some Golden Virginia and make a roll-up!! – Enjoy!

David Lyons
21 Jan 11:57pm

Adam – with reference to my mailing early on in the train, the value of a £1 is immaterial, what excites many of us is the publicity value of it and that it has mystified and puzzled someone enought to write and find out what it is. Many of us are struggling to get our local communities to engage with the realities of peak oil and climate change, so anything that takes a novel approach to attracting people who normal switch off when they hear of ‘climate change’ or ‘sustainability’ is welcomed with open arms. I have lost count of the conversations I have started with people over the ‘strange bank notes’ I carry in my wallet.
Do enjoy your roll ups…but use your Totnes pound to buy some rizla!