JAPAN: 797,423

An old vaudeville gag told of a conceited counterfeiter who came to grief because he could not resist putting his own picture in place of George Washington's. Osaka's aging, ailing Counterfeiter Kanji Ikeda and his wife Yoshino were not vain, but they did arrange the serial numbers on their fake bills to read as messages to the son whose death in the war had turned their life to misery and despair. One of the Arabic numbers—797,423—read aloud in Japanese, meant: "Don't cry, honorable elder son."

In Japan, where the largest note in circulation is 100 yen (worth approximately 50¢), counterfeiting...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!