Tacking dollar bills onto restaurant walls: What's the origin?

Occasionally, one comes across a restaurant which has adopted this type of graffiti. I’ve noticed it only the past ten or so years (and maybe it’s mostly in the southeast, but I think I’ve seen it elsewhere, too).

How long as this been going on, and are there any ideas on where (and why) it started???

I don’t know where or when this started, but often what’s up there is the first dollar the place made.

If what you mean is multiple dollar bills adorning a wall haphazardly, then I’ve never seen it and don’t know what itt is. But a single dollar bill is often the first dollar that the place of business earned.

I can find cites from the 1930’s that this was not uncommon. Haven’t traced it back any farther so far.

…for a single, framed bill.

Nope. This is not the store’s first dollar. It’s the walls, and maybe even ceilings decorated with dollar bills (sometimes, many dozens of them) that customers have “donated,” often with inscriptions of names, dates, etc.

And, BTW, I eat out a lot and travel a fair amount, and so I spend a lot of time in restaurants, thus accounting my noticing this phenomenon.

The local Chamber of Commerce will present a new business with a framed first dollar.

Here’s a 1993 Usenet posting. It doesn’t define it as the source, but it might help a searcher.

The restaurant is on Cabbage Key, not Useppa Island. My family and I take visitors from out-of-town up there all the time. The link shows a photo, but doesn’t explain how the tradition started; perhaps you could e-mail them and ask.

Ah, the page about the bar was more revealing…

So there you go. That’s the story they’re sticking with, anyway.

I first encountered this phenomenon in another of Florida’s drinking establishments: McGuire’s in Pensacola.

All of the walls and ceilings are covered and re-covered with thousands and thousands of dollar bills everywhere. Patrons sign the bills and hang them with a staple gun provided by the barkeep for that purpose.

It’s like drinking in Monty Burns’ basement.

Earl, I work at the Federal Reserve in New Orleans and I have seen those bills that you are talking about MANY times. The ones we get in banks’ deposits are all kinda brown from cigarette smoke with all those messages that you mentioned. Usually, they are from bars as well. I’ve seen many that are spring break-related, well, any kind of party-related. And if any of you ever wonder what happens to those bills as well as the “where’s george” bills, I’ll tell you what happens to George: he gets shredded. :smiley:

I’ve seen walls decorated with bills many times in many types of places.

Because I often see them as a tourist, many of the places cater to tourists and have the bills signed with the cities or countries the people come from. If the latter, they’ll often be bills from many countries.

Some bars do this as well, but I’m not enough of a bar person to know whatever local custom generated this.

Thinking about it, the majority of places I remember this are from the northeastern U.S. and Canada, so this may be a regionalism. But they’re common enough that I don’t give them much thought so it surprises me how many people here are unfamiliar with them.

I used to be in bars and restaurants in 20 different states back in the 1975-1989 period. I traveled as a coin dealer and went out to eat three times a week. I don’t remember this.

Of course, I didn’t hit touristy spots.

That may be the difference.

There was a bar like this in New Orleans, in the French quarter. IIRC it was right on Bourbon Street. The bills were covering everything, several thicknesses deep.

Maybe 7 or 8 years ago I went, got drunk, signed a bill, and had it tacked up. I went back about a year ago hoping to find the same place and maybe spot my dollar. To my dismay either the bar had removed them all or I couldn’t find it.

Anybody know the place I’m thinking of?

I read, a few years ago, about a joint in downtown Indianapolis with a resident magician. He’d stroll around, working the crowd with prestidigitation. According to the review, he would explain to you, for a dollar, how the ceiling came to be littered with dollar bills.