The Past is Present blog from the American Antiquarian Society mentioned an upcoming book on counterfeiting by Deborah M. Child.
Deborah M. Child (www.deborahmchild.com) has been at AAS for the past month researching her upcoming book on Lyman Parks (1788-1872). Parks' forged bank notes were so accomplished that even the experts could not tell his notes from legitimate currency. Part of Fraud Week on Past is Present, Deborah's post below gives tips on how to identify counterfeit currency, starting with a bill that features our man-of-the-week, George Washington.
Gilbert Stuart's bust portrait of George Washington continues to be a favorite subject for vignettes on American currency. Shown here is an example from the AAS currency collection.
This counterfeit bank note is an excellent illustration of what to look for when examining currency made before 1862 when the Federal Government began regulating the currency. Prior to that, each bank adopted its own distinctive design. Paper was not standardized and bank note plates were outsourced to private engravers.
Internal control of currency was just as loosely maintained. Each note was individually numbered and then signed by the cashier and the bank president. Denominations for currency were not standardized either and could range from five and half cents to 10,000 dollars. All these variations provided a myriad of opportunities for the counterfeiters aka koniackers to ply their trade.
The second example is another bank note from the AAS currency collection. Examined over a light box, it becomes immediately apparent this bill has been chemically altered. The ink is uneven and the lettering is not consistent with the rest of the text. The paper is thinner and lighter, the texture altered, making it obvious that the bank name "Hamilton" in the center has been substituted.
The bank for which it was originally printed was undoubtedly defunct so the counterfeiter removed the name of the original bank and substituted this name to place it back in circulation.
Not surprisingly, all this devious behavior corrupting the currency prompted a public outcry and a proliferation of anti-counterfeit guidebooks and newspapers. Trouble was the counterfeiters would study these guides as closely as the bankers and adjusted their practices accordingly.
To read the complete article, see:
Fraud Week, Part 3: Funny Money
THE BOOK BAZARRE
DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS
the Q. David Bowers Research Library Sale Part V on June 11, 2011, including:
Director of the Mint Reports 1851-1970
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