Five Pfennig Found

Some people who buy old houses find treasure — caches of money, bearer bonds, or jewelry squirreled away beneath floorboards, behind a loose block in the basement, or in a secret compartment in the attic.  Unfortunately, we haven’t found anything remotely like that in our new house — which actually is an old house, built in the early 1900s.

IMG_4802We have, however, found a 5 pfennig coin.  It was issued in 1950 by the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or the Federal Republic of Germany — that is, the Cold War era, pre-unification West Germany.  We do live in German Village now, after all, so finding an old German coin is apt.  It makes me wonder if perhaps one of the former owners of this house took a trip back to the Fatherland in the years after World War II, got this coin on his trip, and simply paid no attention to it when he found it in his pocket upon his return.

The pfennig was the equivalent of the penny in the years before Germany switched to Euro, and the pfennig and the penny are linguistically related.  It’s also interesting, and a bit galling, that the value of German coins plummeted as of 1950, the year of our coin.  During the years immediately after the end of World War II, before the Federal Republic became the national government in 1949, some German states got together and minted Deutches Lander coins that are of interest to collectors.  Once the Federal Republic took over, however, its coins became commonplace, so our 5 pfennig coin has no real value — except as blog fodder and a good luck charm.

If only our prior owner had returned to the homeland a few years earlier!

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Shopping In The ‘Hood

Many of the new large-scale developments in America are framed as “mixed-use” developments.  They are designed to offer office space, retail shops, and residential options in one planned undertaking, and they are marketed using slogans like “Live. Work. Play.” or “Eat. Shop. Live.”  The idea is that Americans want to get away from sterile suburban designs, where only houses can be found for blocks and blocks, and live in places where they can stroll to a pub, restaurant, or green grocer.

German Village is the quintessential mixed-use area, except it wasn’t pre-planned — it’s that way because that’s what life was like everywhere in America before suburbs were conceived.  Even in the core residential areas you’ll find antique stores, flower shops, coffee houses, art galleries, restaurants, and delis, as well as doctor and attorney offices and even the Franklin Art Glass Studios, which has been making stained glass window since 1924.  As a result, people are constantly out on the streets walking to these commercial establishments, which gives the area an enjoyable bustling feel.  It reminds Kish and me of our old neighborhood on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

If you have commercial establishments in your neighborhood, though, you’d better support them or they won’t be there for long.  Fortunately, this hasn’t been a problem for us.  It’s easy to frequent local businesses when they offer quality goods and services at reasonable prices.  We haven’t bought any stained glass pieces — at least not yet — but we’ve gladly purchased excellent sandwiches to go at Katzinger’s deli, freshly ground coffee at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, and wine at the Hausfrau Haven, which offers a great selection, helpful advice from the proprietor, and a weekend wine bar to boot.  And when you’ve got G. Michael’s, Lindey’s, the Sycamore, and Barcelona, as well as more casual options, within easy walking distance, it’s not hard to spend your dining dollar in the ‘hood, either.

Shopping and eating out in our neighborhood is one of the things that I like the best about our move.  It makes German Village feel like much more of a real community.