Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pounds into Dollars

On my way to Berlin riding the ICE again, digesting the previously described pot of coffee and Butterkuchen, reading the freely offered newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine I came across an article about early stereotypy. In this process pictures are transferred to metal plates that are subsequently used for printing.

Already in 1729 Benjamin Franklin had pleaded to increase the amount of money circulating in the colonies to fight consumer abstinence. Today the reason obviously is the indebtedness of the consumer, in those days the Brits apparently were the culprits prohibiting silver export from their colonies. Printing paper money: Franklin an early Bernanke?

In fact Benjamin started printing pound notes together with D. Hall as early as 1760. To avoid counterfeit the paper money had to be forgery-proof. Technically minded Franklin used stereotypy. Note the fine structures of those leaves on the 5 pound/100 shilling denomination. Printed in red: To Counterfeit is DEATH. Those good old times!

In 1776 one year after the War of Independence had broken out the dollar had replaced the pound in the thirteen colonies and - note the intertwined rings - bound together in an Olympic competition? The dollar was then divided into six parts. British heritage?

Already in 1778 Hall & Sellers printed a 50 dollar note as an early sign of inflation? Again the fine structure of stereotypy made forgery of the paper money difficult.

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