For all debts, public and private
December 13, 2012 8:41 AM   Subscribe attempts to collect and classify images of all the world's paper currency, both historical and modern, whether it's sublimely beautiful or utterly worthless. If you prefer your banknotes with snarky commentary, hasten to James Lileks' Engraveyard.
posted by theodolite (15 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I like Engraveyard. Thanks for this post.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:00 AM on December 13, 2012

I have this note. I use it as a bookmark. The pictorial engravings and guilloche patterns really put U.S. currency to shame.
posted by phrontist at 9:00 AM on December 13, 2012


posted by legospaceman at 9:01 AM on December 13, 2012

This French note states that 'conterfeiters will be punished by a life sentence of forced labour.'
posted by Flashman at 9:25 AM on December 13, 2012

The U.S. used to take some more pride in our currency. For my money (ha!) the best were the Silver Certificates of 1896:

$1.00 - History Instructing Youth
$2.00 - Science Presenting Steam and Electricity to Commerce and Manufacture
$5.00 - Allegorical Figures with America at Center (plus boobies!)
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:28 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll take Engraveyard for Lithuania.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:30 AM on December 13, 2012

$1.00 - History Instructing Youth

Super cool. Bonus: Martha and George Washington on the other face.
posted by saturday_morning at 9:35 AM on December 13, 2012

The lettering on this 1890 five-dollar bill looks like it belongs on a casino marquee in Reno, Nevada. I wonder if casino signs share that look because that style of lettering used to be much more closely associated with money.

The 1880 five-dollar bill looks like someone gave up on the reverse side halfway through. Also, the front of the bill features a dog, which I like.

It looks like the woman with the bared chest on the 1896 five-dollar bill is holding a light bulb. Which I suppose suggests that we were pretty jazzed up about electric light back then.
posted by compartment at 10:08 AM on December 13, 2012

It looks like the woman with the bared chest on the 1896 five-dollar bill

That would be a good image to wheel out the next time someone goes on about "prudish Victorians." Think of the shit storm there'd be today if someone tried to put a naked boob on a US banknote. Apparently there was something of a controversy back in the day; but no one would even think to try it nowadays.
posted by yoink at 11:01 AM on December 13, 2012

Can i complain about how ugly, cack handed, misogynst, and icky canadian money is recently. Also, the prettiest note I have ever seen is the 10 pound British note.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:25 AM on December 13, 2012

Needs a search engine, and a "current value" ticker.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:55 AM on December 13, 2012

Kinda weird to see all these pictures of money without SAMPLE ONLY printed across them in bold.
posted by Jimbob at 12:03 PM on December 13, 2012

Nice to see they have the polymer banknote issued in Northern Ireland by Northern Bank to commemorate the Millennium. I always found it weird that it had a space shuttle on it.
posted by knapah at 12:22 PM on December 13, 2012

The best bill. It's almost surreal to hold this. It's about $25 – a little less, actually.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:20 PM on December 13, 2012

I bought a bunch of those $100 trillion Zimbabwe notes and used to include them in birthday cards. They make great bookmarks.
posted by edeezy at 8:03 PM on December 13, 2012

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