Paper Money

Collecting Paper: Mongolia's tiny houses of note

Mongolia, the nation of Genghis Khan, long ago provided the answer to the mod­ern “tiny house” trend with the yurt — a portable round tent covered with skins or felt and used by nomads — seen on the back of Mongolia’s 500-tugrik note.

Bank note image courtesy of Wendell Wolka.

There’s a trend that I find disturbing — tiny houses. 

That’s right, tiny houses. When I see those folks on TV who absolutely swoon over the idea of living in a 400-square-foot “house” with a wife, five kids, six cats, and two dogs I just scratch my head. 

What are they thinking? It’s like living in a tool shed. “But it’s portable!” they gush. That seems to be a big deal with most of these people; it has to be something they can move from place to place.

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And then I started rummaging through my bank notes looking for answers. You know, of course, that bank notes provide lots of answers to lots of questions. 

Well I got all the way to “M” before the solution jumped up in front of me. No answers in Argentina, Belgium, Congo, Denmark or Estonia. Nothing in France, Ghana, Honduras, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, or Latvia. But then I finally got to the most unlikely source for a solution to this “yearning to be free” business — Mongolia. 

That’s right, Mongolia! Home of Genghis Khan and the 500-tugrik note. Right there on the back of the note was the perfect answer. The ox drawn yurt, of course!

Let’s start with the yurt; a yurt is a portable round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads on the steppes of Central Asia. Perfect! Cheap, light, and portable. The answer to a “Tiny House” fanatic’s prayers! 

The note also provided the details for solving that pesky moving problem. No Peterbilt? No commercial driver’s license? No problem! The note has all the answers; as can be seen, you just hook up, oh, about 24 oxen (or perhaps even yaks or camels) and you, my friend, are in business. 

Imagine the majestic sight of 24 oxen moving the biggest, proudest yurt you can imagine through downtown Piqua, Ohio, or Des Moines, Iowa.

So it just goes to show you that there is really nothing new under the sun. Genghis Khan and his ancestors solved the problem of cheap, transportable, and comfortable accommodations thousands of years ago. It just took a trip through my bank note collection to discover the answers that had eluded me. 

Take a stroll through your collection sometime soon; you may be surprised at what solutions to pressing problems are waiting for you! 

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