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Eur’o ld Curiosity Shop

The brouhaha began on Wednesday. Pranksters had ideas for making a fast buck. Polish mathematicians worked out that euros usually land heads up. And the Vatican had problems making them appear at all.


Not like it used to be

The first working day after euro coins and notes were introduced produced the inevitable glitches.

What are the odds

A German man stuck together two photographs of a 500 euro note back-to-back and spent it in a casino.

He handed over the crude forgery and got almost 1,000 German marks ($450) in coins in return, a police spokeswoman in the city of Mainz near Frankfurt said.

The cashier had asked her manager for permission to change the note. Police are still looking for the man, believed to be aged 25-30, who made the fake by cutting out life-size photographs from an information leaflet about the euro.

Heads I win, tails you lose

And in Poland mathematicians say the new coins favour heads over tails. Tomasz Gliszczynski and Waclaw Zawadowski at the Podlaska Academy in Siedlce spun one Belgian euro coin 250 times, Germany's Die Welt daily reported on Thursday. King Albert's head landed facing up 140 times.

"The euro is struck asymmetrically," Gliszczynski, who teaches statistics, told the newspaper. "I know the phenomenon from other coins like the two zloty piece, which we have thrown more than 10,000 times."

Pennies from heaven

The Vatican's version of the new euro coin may be heaven-sent but some very earthly snags will delay its advent until sometime next month, a Vatican spokesman said on Thursday.

"There are some technical problems...first they have to get the Italian euro in circulation, then comes the Vatican euro," the Holy See spokesman told Reuters.

Italy has had difficulties getting the new notes and coins into circulation and in terms of actual cash transactions in the new coinage, was bottom of the class among the 12 countries that introduced the euro, the European Commission says.

On the whole, however, Drachmas, Liras and Deutschmarks are smoothly sliding into obscurity and are being replaced with the euro. Apart from a man in Greece, who... But that is another story.

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