By now you might be starting to think that Canadians have all the fun.
It’s Dr Spock.
“Spocking a $5 bill” has seen Trekkies from all walks of life pay tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy (who passed away last week) in an unusual way. The profile of former Canadian Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, is now widely being replaced by that of Dr Spock.
Keeping Tradition Alive
A practice long-loved by Canadians, ‘Spocking’ $5 bills has experienced a rapid resurgence in popularity to mark the death of Nimoy. Since the campaign #spockyourfives kickstarted on social media, hundreds (if not thousands) of bills with Nimoy’s distinctive Vulcan cut, brows and endearingly pointy ears have emerged in current circulation.
“Spock” your $5 bills for Leonard Nimoy pic.twitter.com/bKdKyC3l4q
— Design Canada (@The_CDR) February 27, 2015
Is ‘Spocking’ illegal in Canada?
It is, however, an offence to “melt down, break up or use otherwise than as currency any coin that is current and legal tender in Canada”.
Neither piece of legislation mentions bank notes – a tidy loop hole that many enterprising Canadians continue to freely exploit.
While the practice has not been endorsed by the Bank of Canada, there is little that can be done to prevent it. The recent spike in $5 alterations has seen the Bank weigh in to request Canadians stop the Spock on the basis that it may interfere with security features of bank notes.
It also warns that retailers may soon refuse to accept defaced currency.
So while it’s not illegal to revamp your bank notes, on a more practical level, there may soon be an upper limit on the number of iced capps you can purchase at Tim Hortons with your specially ‘Spocked up’ cash.
As one commentator writes in the comments section of Mashable:
Don’t try this at home
Before you think about going forth and ‘Spocking’ your Australian cash …think again.
While it’s not illegal to graffiti money in Canada, it is very much unlawful to do so in Australia.
Penalties can reach up to $5,000 and a 2 year jail sentence according to the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981.
“A person shall not, without the consent, in writing, of an authorized person, wilfully deface, disfigure, mutilate or destroy any coin or paper money that is lawfully current in Australia.”
As with many creative pursuits, the threat of hefty penalties does not deter a handful of stunningly creative renegades.
View more here.
Similar to Australia, the US imposes strong penalties. You can face a sizeable fine and up to 6 months imprisonment for vandalising currency.
“Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”
Again, this has not discouraged many talented artists, such as James Charles, who prove it is possible to turn just about anything into an art form.
Our personal favourite!? Mr Bill Murray.
At the end of the day
Defacing any form of currency in Australia, and many other countries, is unlawful.
So don’t do it, okay!?
Why do you think the trend of ‘Spocking’ cash has taken off? Do think Canada should amend its existing laws to make defacing currency a clear offence? Let us know in the comments!