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Writing a ransom note

Italian lira (euro), Italy

Italian lira (euro), Italy

Have all of you seen Austin Powers? You remember when Dr. Evil comes up with an evil plan to hold the earth ransom for the (in his mind) terrifying demand of ‘one Mi-llion dollars’? Remember how all his evil minions giggled at that amount because in the time that Dr. Evil had been frozen, the value of the one-million dollar ransom had become insignificant? Well in a weird way, that’s where I am in my research today. In 1930s Italy, just what ransom demand WOULD be considered daunting to Portia and her client?

Just as a point of comparison, the ransom note for the Lindbergh baby (Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. son of Charles Lindbergh) demanded $50,000 US dollars for his safe return in 1932.

Now since the Italian Lira no longer exists, there are some tricky calculations I am forced to make.

If I take data from this Fodor’s site that lists the historic value of the Italian Lira, and also this data that gives me the exchange rate for US dollar to various other international currencies, I find that $50,000 US dollars in 1930 is roughly equivalent to ₤1,000,000.

Interestingly, we arrived back at Dr. Evil’s ‘one mi-lion’ number.

That said, because the client in this case is a young girl, I think I will halve the demand (based on the amount of money she could actually readily get her hands on) and make it ₤500,000.

The internet is a fabulously informative place!

#writing #detective #ransom #portiaadams #lira #1930 #value

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