The monetary density of things

It’s a common figure of speech to say that x is worth its weight in y, where y is usually (but not always) gold. But most of us don’t buy and weigh gold very often, so how do you connect that to real life? Does “worth its weight” in pennies or $100 bills make any more sense?

We have collected here a bunch of examples for different things that represent a wide range of monetary value per unit weight, in what might make a useful
calibration chart for your future idiomatic usage.

Let’s start this off with a down-to-earth question. Which has a higher monetary density: dimes or quarters? In other words, if you had to carry around $1000 worth of either dimes or quarters, which should you ask for?
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Quick hack: The $1 C-to-D adapter

Quick C to D adapter

Here’s a common problem: You want to power your gizmo that runs on D cells, but all that you have handy are C cells.

In many (but not all) circumstances, you can solve this problem by using the C cell and making up the battery length difference with a few quarters– typically three or four. There is a 12 mm length difference between a C cell and a D cell, and quarters are about 2 mm thick, so if your gizmo has a really weak spring it could take up to six quarters to do the job.

Yes, commercial battery size adapters are available.

They typically cost between 1.5 and three dollars and can only be used for the one purpose– adapting battery sizes. (Well, that, and as a set of matryoshki.) Using quarters can also potentially end up costing as much as $1.50, but it can go straight back into your wallet when you’re finished! Much more importantly, when you really need it, you can probably find a few quarters no further away than your pocket.