Mark D. Tomasko (author of Images of Value, the Artwork Behind US Security Engraving 1830s-1980s) submitted this information on the
identity of an American Bank Note Company female portrait. Thank you! -Editor
It's not Florence Nightingale
I have been intending to write an article for one of the paper money journals about a female portrait done by American Bank Note Company,
because the portrait has for years been described as depicting Florence Nightingale, a description repeated in last week's E-Sylum.
What made me curious about the portrait, engraved by James Bannister in the earliest years of American Bank Note's existence (and therefore used
on various obsolete bank notes), is that it didn't look like Florence Nightingale. A quick online search shows only one picture of the young Florence
Nightingale (who is usually shown as an older woman) that bears any resemblance to ABN portrait no. 151 (old series).
So who is it? Fortunately American Bank Note engraving records provide the answer. It is the Countess of Durham. She was originally Lady Beatrice
Hamilton, and after marrying George Frederick D'Arcy Lambton, the Second Earl of Durham, became the Countess of Durham. The Wikipedia entry for
George Lambton describes her as having married George in 1854, after which she had thirteen children, and died in 1871, at the age of 35, just three
days after the birth of her last child. Passing away at the age of 35 after having 13 children is both remarkable and sad.
Since there is no title on the die, and it is not a "Special" (i.e., engraved and paid for by one customer for their exclusive use), the portrait
appears to have been engraved solely to add a "Fancy Head" (the bank note industry name for a decorative female head) to ABN's engraving stock.
If readers would like to see a very nice pastel of the lady, as well as a print of the image that was engraved by James Bannister, use the links
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE ON OBSOLETE PAPER MONEY
NEW BOOK: IMAGES OF VALUE (https://www.coinbooks.org/v20/esylum_v20n09a03.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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