The idea came to Dan after seeing the same quarter with a scratch on Washington’s cheek three times in town. Every coin, he speculated, must be endlessly circulated and recirculated, especially since it was such a small community and all the cash went through a single farmer’s bank. But since most coins were mostly alike, there was no way to be sure.

Dan was going to see for himself.

His girlfriend, an artist, had access to a wide variety of indelible toxic paints and engraving tools. Dan used them to engrave his initials into the face of a quarter and paint them the most durable, indelible, poisonous-if-inhaled black he could find.

Daniel Arthur MacDonnagh. D-A-M.

His parents had kicked themselves for giving him those initials, but Grandpa Art wasn’t about to let them be changed (and neither, for that matter, was Grandpa Dan). They’d been, at various times, a point of pride and a badge of shame.

Now they were an indelible marker cast out into the wilds of a small-town economy.