Diving back into the May 1978 issue of "Marvel Two-in-One," we find another ubiquitous advertisement of the era. The Fun House of Newark, New Jersey, offered "FREE ONE MILLION CASH" in its ad, which measures just under 2 inches by 2 inches.
Of course, there's no actual money involved. The fine print states: "Fool all yours [sic] friends. You'll get a Million $$$ worth of laughs with these exact reproductions of old U.S. Gold Banknotes (1840). They're yours FREE when you send for our brand new 'FUN CATALOG.'"
While the prank banknotes were "free," I'm sure the 50 cents required for shipping the catalog (about $1.80 today) more than covered the cost of the banknote photocopies.
And what banknote reproductions did The Fun House send? Possibly one of these...
Specifically referring to the first of the two banknotes shown above, D. McIntyre states the following on CoinSite: "This is the infamous serial number 8894 reproduction printed on fake parchment. The Bank of The United States was a private bank and the United States of America was their biggest customer. ... From the late 19th century to the 1950s, reproductions of Bank of the United States currency were distributed, often with an advertising message printed on the back. Since the notes are not official U.S. issues, it isn’t considered counterfeiting to reproduce them. Genuine examples of these notes are valuable. The infamous '8894' serial number comes from a firm that copied the original with the above serial number to use for advertising purposes. These notes were reproduced before Congress passed the 'Hobby Protection Act' requiring the words 'copy' or 'Replica' on reproductions of coins or paper money.
Interestingly, while The Fun House was offering these replica banknotes as a "free" incentive for potential customers, some of those very replicas now have a minor market among collectors, selling for $10 to $20 in some cases. Search for the terms 8894 and banknote on eBay to see what I mean.
As for The Fun House, I can't find much information about that 1970s business. Any leads would be appreciated. I wonder if any of their old catalogs are still floating around.
Previous entries in this series
- #1: Advertisement from comic-book dealer Robert Bell
- #2: 100 little dolls for $3
- #3: Twinkie advertisement "Thor Meets a Glutton for Gold"
- #4: Marvel's Pizzazz magazine