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Special Event  |  Harley Spiller: Reading & Book Signing

Sunday, May 3, 2015, 2–4 pm

Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium  

Harley J. Spiller began collecting money at age five when, home sick from school, his father tossed him a sack of pennies and a Whitman coin folder. In the five decades since, Spiller has amassed one of America’s most extensive collections of unusual financial artifacts as well as a wealth of anecdotes and quirky historical details about US currency. He says, “I see my collection as a cache that cannot be counted in standard ways. It’s not about money; it’s about what can be learned from money.”

In time for tax day, Princeton Architectural Press publishes Spiller’s Keep the Change (April 2015, $19.95). Readers learn why greenbacks are green, what happens to worn-out bills, how artists navigate the fine line between art and mutilation, and whether it’s ever acceptable to burn money. Did you know U.S. dollars are magnetic, that they have hidden day glow colors, or that the U.S. Mint intentionally mangles coins? Broken into bite-sized chapters on banknote errors, coin clipping, legal restrictions, counterfeiting, slang terms, and more, Keep the Change is illustrated with vivid photographs of Spiller’s collection. The book is also peppered with true anecdotes like The Bank Manager Who Throws Away a Grand a Year. This highly selective tour through currency legends and lore will inspire readers to look with a new sense of wonder at the bills that pass through our hands every day. View the book trailer online at

Harley Spiller:

• Holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest collection of restaurant menus
• Cited by Art & Antiques magazine as one of the nation’s “Top 100 Collectors”
• His newsstand paperweight collection is a permanent installation at The New York State Museum
• Twice named “Exhibitions of the Year” by Art in America
• Appeared with Mr. T on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Harley Spiller aka Inspector Collector™ is a professional museum educator who presents his international collections to inspire the lifelong love of learning. His award-winning collections of restaurant menus, flags, maps, spoons, and more have been exhibited in museums around the world, from The Smithsonian Institution to El Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, Venezuela. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the New Yorker. Numerous television credits include appearances as host, guest, and announcer for diverse shows like The Learning Channel, To Tell The Truth, MTV, VH1, and CNN Headline News.

Inspector Collector’s passion for collecting everyday objects was sparked when he handled President George Washington’s spoon during a high school internship at The White House in Washington, DC. He has gone on to present museum studies courses for the past thirty years, in public and private schools across the globe. Recently, Spiller contributed to the books Street Art 365 (Abrams 2011) and Gastropolis: Food and New York City (Columbia University Press 2008), and The New York Times published his editorial on collecting in 2010. Spiller holds a BA in English Literature from Northwestern University and an MA in Liberal Studies with Honors from The New School for Social Research.