Old Number One (Scrooge's first dime)

Per Starb{ck starback at Minsk.DoCS.UU.SE
Sat Mar 27 00:13:33 CET 1993

Jellybeans asked why Magica de Spell wants Scrooge's first dime.

> I have not seen the comic that explains that, but I think it was explained in
> a Ducktales episode.  I believe it had something to do with being Uncle
> $crooge's first (ever) earned wage or found commodity.

I haven't seen that DuckTales episode, but it must be "Once Upon a
Dime" where (as far as I've understood) Scrooge earns his first dime
from chipping off mud off a ditchdigger's boots.  That is lifted from
"Getting that Healthy, Wealthy Feeling", a non-Barks story drawn by
Tony Strobl (US 50, reprinted in US 187).  Barks himself, who
"invented" Old Number One, never mentioned how Scrooge earned it.

That was in Scrooge's youth back in Scotland, so it's a little mystery
why he was payed and accepted an American dime.  Anyway that might be
the reason for him never spending it.  Jack L. Chalker, in his "An
Informal Biography of Scrooge McDuck", says that an American silver
dime almost looks like an 1860 British twopenny piece.  I guess he
means that Scrooge didn't see the difference when he accepted it as
payment, but Stephen Eberhart has later argued against that:

	This is hardly the case!  Both would have been silver, yes,
	but twopenny pieces were much smaller and, after 1820, only
	minted regularly for use in a few colonies (such as Guiana) or
	for distribution to select elderly poor by the royal household
	on Maundy Thursday, hence not a commonly circulating
	denomination in Britain until revived in copper in 1971 as two
	new pence.  Further, the designs on such Maundy sets were
	always busts of Queen Victoria (at varying ages) while U.S.
	coinage of the period changed from Liberty bust to seated full
	figure in 1837, so it would only have been conceivable to have
	confused a much older U.S. dime with a post-1887 sixpence
	piece to even roughly match size and design.  Perhaps the
	dime, like the shoes, was caked with mud!
[This is from the article "McDucks In The Highlands -- Scottish
Backgrounds in the Duck Stories of Carl Barks and Tony Strobl" in
The Barks Collector #23 (1982).]

I still haven't earned *my* first dime, so I don't know how they look,
but Eberhart seems not to take into account that we *have* gotten a
closer look at the dime.  That's in "Billions in the Hole" (US 33)
which might be of interest to the numismatically interested.

As for why Magica wants the dime, Harry has already answered that.  In
that first story with her she had collected various coins from other
rich people as well, and planned on melting all the coins together (in
the sulphurous fires of Mt. Vesuvius), so their mystic powers would
fuse into a super amulet.  "And with that amulet I, too, can become
rich, *rich*, *RICH*!"

> I think it is only after Magica showed interest in the dime, that Scrooge
> started to believe in his dime himself (starting near the end of that
> same Midas Touch story).

Yes, just before Magica appears the following exchange takes place:

Donald: You know, some people thint that old dime is the *secret* of
	your wealth --- that it's worked as a sort of *charm* for you!

Scrooge: Bah!  Mere superstition!  *Thriftiness* is the secret of my
	wealth!  And this old dime is a *symbol* of that thriftiness
	--- nothing more!

> There is only one _earlier_ story with the number one dime, but with
> no reference to "luck" at all.

Ha, gotcha! :-)  It's at least in "The Second-Richest Duck" (US 15)
*and* "Billions in the Hole" (US 33); both before "The Midas Touch"
(US 36).
--       "
Per Starback, Uppsala, Sweden.  email: starback at student.docs.uu.se
   "But when he pressed that dime into my sweaty little palm,
          I was the happiest young duck in the world!"

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