The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 42, October 15, 2017, Article 24


Boggs One Euro note front

Boggs A Comedy of Values This item appeared on eBay last weekend. Although I knew "Money Artist" J.S.G. Boggs and had spoken to him not long before he died, I'd lost touch with him for many years. I wasn't aware of this note and it raised some questions. A lot of the elements seem genuine Boggs, but the portrait here is not by him - BEP artist Tom Hipschen did that for a book cover: Lawrence Weschler's BOGGS: A Comedy of Values.

I first reached out to Steve Davis of Numismatic Auctions LLC, who has sold Boggs works in his sales.

Steve Davis writes:

I have not seen this note before. I remember Boggs showing me the actual portrait engraving Hipschen did of him once, it was really nicely executed; now that is an item I wish I had. I just got two or three other unusual Boggs items offered to me as well, which seems to happen every time I sell one at auction. It will be a curiosity to see what happens with all the material in Boggs's studios.

A URL is listed on the note: . The Naples Bank Note Company (NBNC) sells high-quality fantasy banknotes for fundraising and souvenir purposes. It's Bob Bednar's company, and his name is on the note, too. A security paper executive, Bob is a member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS) and the Society of Paper Money Collectors (SPMC). He's also an E-Sylum subscriber, so I reached out to him next.

Bob Bednar writes:

NBNC was formed in order to obtain part of the European Bank printing contract. Utilizing some ex-United States Banknote Company personnel, the One Million Euro Commemorative was designed and printed in order to demonstrate that a US Security printer could provide the quality of a banknote printer.

I also provided special security paper to Boggs for years.

The piece is a Naples Bank Note design that Boggs showed me at the Orlando airport. He altered our One Million Euro note design and forged my signature. He made subtle changes to the note. For example, using "Apple Bank Note Company" instead of "Naples Bank Note Company".

Boggs included a front to back Register Mark in his design. On our website we purposely left out that security feature to be able to readily identify counterfeits. Basically it is a symbol, like a star on our note, that color is filled in on one side and no color on other side. It's located above the Treasurer's signature.

I thought Boggs had the piece so I'm not sure how it got on eBay.

Here's the original One Million Euro note (sans Register Mark):

One Million Euro note front

When Boggs made his "Boggs Bills", he would draw an original, scan it into his computer at high resolution, then use editing tools to refine or add design and security features. He would print limited runs at high resolution, then destroy his files. For this note, I imagine he used a similar process.

Boggs showing One Euro design with Hipschen portrait
Boggs showing his new version of the Euro note
Image courtesy Bob Bednar

Part of the serial number is added by hand: "443". So how many of these were made - 500? 1,000? Any information would be appreciated.

Craig Whitford writes:

I'm not aware of how this Euro note came about. I was with Boggs and Tom Hipschen at the meeting and handshake agreement to produce the engraving during the FUN convention in 1996. The casual meeting was held on 1/8/1996 at The Peabody. It was early in the morning. Boggs conducted the deposit on the transaction with a $1000 Project Pittsburgh note titled "Down Payment on a Portrait". The final transaction was paid for in Boggs Bills.

As I recall the engraved plate wasn't completed until 1998. I remember seeing the final plate and some Spider-Press prints from the plate in various colors. It was always Boggs' intention to have an engraved note produced with his portrait. The only image I was aware of utilizing this portrait was on the book.

Since Boggs' passing, collectors should be careful about unusual items offered relating to Boggs work. His work was counterfeited while he was alive by those hoping to make a quick profit.

Tom Hipschen writes:

It's fun to see an artist friend enjoying an afterlife.

Boggs would call me once in a while or visit me while traveling through Washington, but I never saw him more than once or twice a year. He wanted me to partner with him on many projects, but I was reluctant to put that much time into things that were essentially his artwork, not mine.

He pitched the portrait project many years ago as an exchange of artwork. I was never paid directly for it. I put in several hundred hours, and today creating something like that would cost $20,000 to $30,000. He pitched it at the time as an entry that I might make into the world of fine arts as I was looking towards retirement from my government job. There were other money artists involved, and there were several pieces of his own artwork created that included my name and even fingerprints. He even had a gallery arrangement in Florida. I probably never realized more than a couple of thousand dollars from any of it.

I hand printed working proofs and a few final proofs of my engraving for him on my own press at home utilizing security paper provided to him by Bob Bednar. It is a hand engraving made in the banknote manner on a piece of steel that was large enough to print a whole US Banknote sized piece of paper without showing a plate mark. He told me that the few prints that I gave him would go to his lawyers who were preparing a Supreme Court case to try and retrieve many of his artworks that were seized by the US Secret Service. Of course that challenge never went anywhere, and I heard no more of it. I assumed because of the paper size that he intended to paint or print artwork around my engraving to create some of his notes. I never saw the results.

I met Lawrence Weschler once at a book signing, and I was surprised to see the portrait appear on the cover of his book. I was never paid for that, either. I assume that Boggs gave it to him.

I unfortunately know nothing about this particular note. Is the portrait on this note printed in intaglio? If so, it would probably have been created with one of the proofs that I gave him. I assume not, as I once heard him tell another collector that the original engraved plate had been lost. I'm not sure why he maintained that.

As to using himself on his notes, I remember that one of his many ideas years ago was to create a series of bank notes similar in design the the US currency but different in every detail featuring artists for the portraits to be released at the face cost of whatever denominations the artists themselves would choose. For that program he wanted to use his own portrait on the $1 denomination so it would be the most common and available to anyone. I was still working at the BEP at the time. Such a thing would have been unthinkable for me then. Many friends there could not conceive how I could even talk to Boggs, let alone play with him in these artsy fashions.

Author and researcher Neil Shafer recently published Part One of a great article on J.S.G. Boggs article in Bank Note Reporter. He writes:

Thanks for writing about this unusual piece- not that they are not ALL unusual, just that this represents his attempt at keeping up with monetary events like the Euro. I had never seen or heard of anything like this coming from him.

Neil kindly provided an image of one other Boggs bill he incorporated his own portrait into. Thanks!

Boggs 2 German Boggs

Thanks, everyone. It's fabulous to have some many knowledgeable folks chime in on a topic like this - it's The E-Sylum at its best.

To read the complete eBay lot description, see:
J S G Boggs "One Euro" - 443 (


For more information on the One Million Euro notes, see:
One Million Euro Banknotables?Press Sheets (

HLRC E-Sylum ad04 In the Loupe

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster