Since his death on Friday at the age of 83, there have been countless tributes and memorials for the late Leonard Nimoy, including ones from costar William Shatner and President Obama. These range from inventive to genuinely moving, but this one may be my favorite. It may not be the most obvious tribute to the man, but it is really funny, and you have to imagine that the beloved Star Trek icon would be amused. It seems that many Canadians have taken to “Spocking” their $5 bills in tribute to Nimoy.
The bills in question are adorned with an image of former Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, who, with a few slight modifications, bears a striking resemblance to Nimoy. The Canadian Design Resource tweeted to their followers to modify their money in tribute to the actor.
While this is fun, it’s not an entirely new phenomenon. Apparently Canadians have been performing this feat for years, and not only with our favorite Vulcan. Professor Severus Snape of Harry Potter fame has also been the subject of such an artistic endeavor.
Defacing money, and urging people to do so, can be legally dubious. In the U.S., according to the Department of Treasury:
Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
That sounds grim, but who among us hasn’t drawn on a dollar bill a time or two?
Apparently it’s not illegal to mark on the bills North of the Border, but one of the concerns is that altering the images in such a manner will interfere with the built in security features and degrade the lifespan of the bill. A CDR publisher, Todd Falkowsky, explains why this practice is not such a big deal, saying:
People have always played with money this way… love notes, return to sender, birthday greetings and remixing the images. I am not sure if it makes them harder to use but I’ve tried one in a parking garage and it worked no problem.
The Canadian $5 bill apparently changed back in 2013, which makes it much more difficult to make these alterations, but intrepid citizens still find away. This new portrait of Laurier doesn’t resemble Spock nearly as much as the previous version, but with a little ingenuity, you can still make a decent likeness.