‘I entered into the service of a “Change Buck”, one of the many Jews and Gentiles, Loungers about the Rainbow and Batsons, from eleven ‘till four daily, (Sunday not excepted) manufacturing and throwing upon the public the nauseous foam of the day, commonly called news’, began a story of 8 July 1815 in the Intellectual Regale; or Ladies’ TEA Tray. The story, an ‘extract from a satirical work, [and] supposed to be the adventures of a bank note, or piece of money …’, was a first-person narrative by a bank note about its life and its master, ‘Change Buck’. Change Buck's chief quality was ‘blowing’ – ‘this swell of the cheeks and distortion of the countenance is undoubtedly very graceful, there is sublimity in it, suitable to the union of riches and ignorance, and it is as necessary to an overgrown trader, or stock jobber, as a chaise and country house are to him who has been in business six months: they equally give him consequence, they are equally as respectable …’. Change Buck's chief occupation was news, or ‘fabrications’ so ‘plausible, that they have been known even to effect more than once, that criterion of national wealth, the Stocks …’. Upon this foam rode the stocks, the nation's prosperity, and Change Buck's fortune too.
This and other similar fantasies scattered throughout Early Republic popular culture emphasize the volatility of paper-credit instruments, their easy imitation and their tendency to ride, or be puffed and swollen by, the wind of opinion. The notes' subjective posturing and volatility in these popular narratives speak to tensions about the nature of money, knowledge and value in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Anglo-American society.