Tuesday, April 25, 2017

2016 Bank Note of the Year


The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) announced that its voting membership has selected Switzerland 50 Franen for the 2016 "Bank Note of the Year Award". With almost 120 new banknotes released worldwide during 2016, over half were of sufficiently new design to be eligible for nomination.

The Switzerland 50 Franc note is the first new design the Swiss National Bank has released in 20 years. Printed by Orell Fussli Security Printing Ltd., this note from the new 9th series features wind and national experiences. Incorporating the latest technological security standards, future notes will depict time, light, water, matter and language. Using three layer substrate Durasafe® technology, the bright green vertical banknote depicts dandelion seeds, a paraglider aloft in the mountains and a strikingly playful human hand. Slightly smaller than U.S. banknotes, this is the first hybrid note to win the coveted IBNS banknote award.




Friday, April 21, 2017

Fiji unveiled a new 7 dollar commemorative banknote


The Reserve Bank of Fiji has unveiled a new 7-dollar banknote commemorating Fiji Rugby sevens gold medal win at the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 5-21, 2016. The notes will be issued on April 21, 2017.




Front: Captain Osea Kolinisau with an inset picture of their English coach Ben Ryan

Back: Team posing with their gold medals after the final



Saturday, April 8, 2017

Canada unveiled a new 10 Dollar banknote commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Confederation


The Bank of Canada has unveiled a new commemorative $10 bank note to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation - and it will mark the first time a Canadian woman and an indigenous Canadian have been featured on the country's currency.

It is also just the fourth time in Canada's history that a special, commemorative bank note has been produced.

The new polymer note will be available June 1, 2017 when 40 million go into circulation.



The front of the bill depicts the faces of four federal political figures who helped shape the country: Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Etienne Cartier, Agnes Macphail and James Gladstone.

On the back, a range of images capture the country's diverse landscape, including the "Lions" or "Twin Sisters" mountains overlooking Vancouver, a Prairie wheat field, the Canadian Shield in Central Canada, Cape Bonavista on the East Coast and the Northern Lights.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kittens in China 100 Yuan banknote?


Do you see 3 kittens or it's only my imagination? The figure looks like two kneeling kittens with a third gazing with its mouth open in the center. The design appears on each side of Mao Zedong.



A leading banknote and coin expert has denied they are kittens. He said the design of Chinese banknotes adopt advanced anti-forgery technology that is a state secret. The figures in the banknote combine traditional elements and modern cartoon patterns.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Stolen 200-year-old bank note returned 33 years later


The banknote had been missing from the museum's collection since 1984


A 200-year-old bank note stolen from a museum 33 years ago has been returned anonymously after being posted from the Caribbean.

The £1 bank note, from 1819, was stolen from Padstow Museum in Cornwall in 1984.

It has been returned to the museum by airmail without any explanatory note or return address but bearing stamps from St Lucia.

Museum chairman John Buckingham said the tale was "worthy of a TV drama".

"I was very surprised," Mr Buckingham said. "It's just the length of time it's been since it went missing.

"It's a real puzzle. Who's had it all that time?

"It's not hugely valuable, but it's valuable from a local history point of view. I'm just very pleased that the note is back at the museum."

The note had been issued by the Padstow Bank of Thomas Rawlings - a wealthy merchant in the town in the early 1800s, who set up his own bank.

The 1984 museum ledger lists the banknote as "stolen".


Thomas Rawlings lived in the mansion Saunders Hill when the banknote was issued


The former site of Saunders Hill is now home to the Lawn Car Park


The Rawlings family lived in a mansion Saunders Hill, which is where Lawn Car Park is now, close to Padstow Social Club.

"It marked the pinnacle of the Rawlings family fortunes which seem to have collapsed in 1820 when Thomas Rawlings died aged 62," Mr Buckingham said.



Courtesy BBC News 7 March 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Uzbekistan plans to issue a 10,000 Sum note


Uzbekistan plans to issue a 10,000 Sum note on March 10, 2017. The highest denomination currently in circulation is 5000 Sum. The size of the new note is 144 x 78 mm.



Front: Coat of Arms

Back: Uzbek Senate building

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Bank of Ghana plans to issue a 5 Cedi banknote commemorating its 60th anniversary


The Bank of Ghana plans to issue a 5 Cedi banknote commemorating its 60th Anniversary on March 7, 2017.




Front: Dr James Kwegyir Aggrey (1825-1927), intellectual, missionary, and teacher

Back: Seaborne oil-drilling rig

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Iran plans to issue a new design 10,000 Rial banknote


The Central Bank of Iran plans to issue a new design 10,000 Rial banknote in June 2017. The new note is 140 mm X 71 mm, reduced in size from the previous issue.




Front: Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Khomeini (1900-1989), spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution

Back: Tomb of Hafez, Shiraz

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Secret Art History on Your Money


A $1 note from the Corn Exchange Bank of Wisconsin shows an illustration of a “fancy head” derived from a painting by the French artist Constant Joseph Brochart. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


Money talks. And these days, it also walks.

American currency is set for its biggest image overhaul in decades as an old face is demoted — that means you, Andrew Jackson! — and some new ones, less uniformly white and male, arrive.

The images on legal tender are perhaps the most widely circulated art in the world, but where do they come from? That’s the question explored by “Images of Value,” an exhibition at the Grolier Club in Manhattan devoted to the underpondered truism that financial art, like the bills it is printed on, doesn’t grow on trees.

The more than 250 items on view come from the collection of Mark D. Tomasko, a retired lawyer who became fascinated by the beauty of financial art at age 10, when his grandmother gave him an obsolete stock certificate from the old Marmon Motor Car Company. Today he is the rare collector who focuses on tracking down the original artwork behind the engravings on bank notes, stock certificates and other financial documents.

“It’s a bit of an Easter egg hunt,” Mr. Tomasko said during a recent interview in the gallery, taking out his smartphone to show a visitor the hundreds of engraved “fancy heads,” or decorative female heads, he keeps on hand for reference. “I enjoy putting together the puzzle.”

The show, on view through April 29, presents a kind of shadow art history, driven not by bohemians in their studios or working en plein-air but by a rarefied if staid-looking crew of artists and engravers who suited up every day to work at outfits like the American Bank Note Company. The company was the king of an industry that — like the dollar itself — ruled the world well into the 20th century, when financial “dematerialization” and other forces took their toll.

Today, going cashless is easy, but when paper is required Mr. Tomasko likes his lucre very clean.

“I only use new money,” he said, pulling a hyper-crisp Benjamin out of his wallet to point out its high-tech anti-counterfeiting features.

And what happens when he gets change?

He paused, then said, deadpan: “I try not to get change.”

Here is a sampling of items Mr. Tomasko has retrieved from the vast, gorgeous and sometimes bewildering dustbin of American financial art history.


A chromolithograph by Michele Fanoli based on a painting by Constant Joseph Brochart. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


So Fancy

Before the Civil War, American currency was a confusing welter of notes issued by state banks. The notes often bore pastoral vignettes heavy on cows, wagons, haystacks and other features of rural life, sometimes subtly adjusted. (In one bill from a South Carolina bank, a white fieldworker seen in the background of the source image was transformed into an African-American, presumably a slave.)

That dizzying demand helped create the American security engraving industry, while also leaving people uncertain whether the bills they held were any good. “It was a beautiful, difficult currency,” Mr. Tomasko said.

The “fancy heads” both prettied things up and made the documents harder to counterfeit. A $1 bill issued by the Corn Exchange Bank of Wisconsin in the 1850s or ’60s, shown at top, includes a head derived from a painting by the French artist Constant Joseph Brochart. Mr. Tomasko bought the lithograph shown above, which is based on Brochart, just because he liked it. Later he realized it had been engraved and used on a bank note. “It was entirely accidental,” he said.


A lithograph based on a Charles François Jalabert portrait of Martha Washington. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


The silver certificate bearing her likeness. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


Founding Mother

The first general-circulation United States currency appeared in 1861, when the government, to finance the Civil War, issued non-interest-bearing $10 demand notes, with Abraham Lincoln on the front. The United Stated Bureau of Engraving and Printing was created in 1874 and took over production of all American currency in 1877.

The faces on the front weren’t always the all-dude lineup we know today. Before there was Harriet Tubman (coming soon to the $20), there was Martha Washington, who appeared solo on the front of a $1 silver certificate in 1886 (shown above), and then alongside her husband on the back of another one issued in 1896. (Today, George has the $1 all to himself.)

The bureau has no record of the source image, but Mr. Tomasko said it was a portrait by Charles François Jalabert, which he also circulated via 19th-century cards, magazine illustrations and lithographs. Like all United States currency issued since 1861, these bills remain valid at their full face value, but if you want to buy an 1886 Martha, you’ll need to fork over as many as 1,500 Georges.


It’s not the Great Wall of China on this engraving, but the city walls of Beijing, which are no longer standing. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


A 1918 bill for the Asia Banking Corporation. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


Chinese Walls

After the federal government took over production of currency, American Bank Note focused on the foreign market. In the first half of the 20th century, its biggest customer was China.

Chinese bank notes, Mr. Tomasko said, generally did not feature faces. Instead, they showed buildings and landscapes, often drawn from photographs, which were becoming an increasingly important source of imagery for securities.

The image on the 1918 bill for the Asia Banking Corporation shown above depicted the old walls around Beijing, now gone; the image comes from a picture postcard, with a sky drawn in before engraving, to create a richer scene. “It’s not easy to engrave good skies,” Mr. Tomasko said.

The Chinese Revolution of 1949 put an end to that market. Two other major American Bank Note customers, Mexico and Brazil, also created their own industries in the 1960s, dealing another blow.


A photo of a work by the currency artist A.E. Foringer. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


Foringer’s work on a Canadian Bank of Commerce note. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


The Master

By the 20th century, American Bank Note and other companies commonly commissioned original art rather than taking images from the broader culture, partly because the salon art of the 19th century had given way to new movements whose images were “not suitable” for currency vignettes, as Mr. Tomasko’s catalog puts it.

If there’s a true maestro of this art in the show, it’s A. E. Foringer. Foringer, who trained with the muralist Edwin Blashfield, had his 15 minutes of fame with “The Greatest Mother in the World,” a Madonna-like Red Cross poster from 1918 — the only work mentioned in his 1948 obituary in The New York Times, Mr. Tomasko noted a bit forlornly.

But Foringer also had a long career as a vignette artist for American Bank Note, creating images that appeared on more than 50 international bills and many stock certificates, including a series for the Canadian Bank of Commerce in the 1910s and 1920s that Mr. Tomasko calls “the most beautiful bank notes of the 20th century.”

Mr. Tomasko acquired some of the large oil paintings Foringer made after American Bank Note sold the bulk of its archives at auction in 1990. Most of the original artwork Foringer did for the company is lost, but the engravings made from them have not entirely disappeared. The seated woman with grapes shown on a different Canadian Bank of Commerce note, a five-pound bill issued by its branch in Kingston, Jamaica, shown above, appears today on the label of the Maiden, a cabernet produced by Harlan Estate, a Napa Valley winery that has resurrected two Foringer engravings.


A painting by the artist Robert Lavin. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


A certificate for the Great American First Savings Bank. Credit Collection of Mark D. Tomasko


Capitalist Realism

In 1874, the New York Stock Exchange began requiring that all listed companies have their securities engraved by a reputable banknote company. The exhibition includes many examples, which themselves provide a kind of pictorial view of changes in the nature of American capitalism.

The trains and steam engines of the 19th century gave way to sometimes amusingly anachronistic allegorical figures (like a 1936 Foringer vignette showing a woman in neo-Classical drapery holding a telephone); in turn those gave way to a style Mr. Tomasko calls “capitalist realism.” The 1986 certificate for the Great American Savings Bank shown here features a quartet of ordinary workers by the artist Robert Lavin, including what Mr. Tomasko said was probably the first image of an African-American professional used on a financial instrument.

The stock market boom of the 1980s and ’90s was good for the picture engraving business. But other shifts in the economy — including the rise of the tech-company-heavy Nasdaq exchange, which did not require engravings — finally caught up. In 2001, the New York Stock Exchange dropped its engraving requirements, dealing what Mr. Tomasko called “a final blow” to nongovernmental security engraving in the United States.

Today, he said, the only picture engravers in the United States are the handful working at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Mr. Tomasko called them “unsung heroes.” One of them, Thomas Hipschen, a retired engraver whose portraits of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Franklin may be in your wallet, will be speaking on a panel at the Grolier on March 7.



Courtesy Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times February 23, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Uzbekistan to issue 10,000 Sum banknotes



The Central Bank of Uzbekistan plans to issue 10,000 Sum banknotes. The exact date of issuance of the high-denomination banknotes has not been yet reported.

To date, the largest denomination banknotes of the national currency is 5,000 Sum issued on July 1, 2013.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Jane Austen £5 note worth £50,000


The Jane Austen portrait. Brits are being urged to check their new fivers after engraved bank notes worth as much as £50,000 were circulated in a Willie Wonka-style 'Golden Ticket' giveaway.


An artist who helped mastermind a Willy Wonka-style treasure hunt for four bank notes, worth an estimated £50,000, admits the only still-hidden fiver could be anywhere in the world.

Micro-engraver Graham Short etched Jane Austen's face into the transparent part of the new plastic Bank of England £5 notes.

But true to Roald Dahl's classic tale of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, while three were quickly discovered, no one has yet publicly laid claim to the fourth.

Mr Short's friend and fellow artist, Tony Huggins-Haig, who launched the project, said around 5,000 people have called up falsely claiming to have found it.


A picture showing the serial numbers of four new plastic Bank of England £5 notes engraved with a 5mm portrait of author Jane Austen on the transparent part of the notes.


"If I can easily change sterling for Euros at the airport, then it could just as easily be anywhere in the world," said Mr Huggins-Haig, who owns a self-titled gallery in Kelso, Roxburghshire.

Mr Short, from Birmingham, etched on a unique serial number and quote onto each note, and in December, quietly spent them in shops in each of the four home nations. The series number of the remaining note is AM32885554.

That same month a woman found the first, and promised to give it to her granddaughter, after Mr Short spent it on a sausage and egg sandwich in a south Wales cafe.

A Scottish student found the second in a Christmas card, and the third was found by an "old lady" after he spent it in a pub named "Charlie's Bar" in Northern Ireland.

She has since donated it back to the gallery and the team want it to be auctioned off for Children in Need.


Micro-engraver Graham Short from Birmingham. Brits are being urged to check their new fivers after engraved bank notes worth as much as £50,000 were circulated in a Willie Wonka-style 'Golden Ticket' giveaway.


The fourth was spent in the Dickinson & Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, whose employees say they are are clueless over its whereabouts.

"It would be wondrous if someone finds it who is deserving, who is blown away by it, and who wants to do something worthwhile with it," said 53-year-old Mr Huggins-Haig.

"It's been an incredible and humbling story thanks to Graham, who goes to incredible lengths to create artwork.

"It really is a Willy Wonka story, and one day all four stories will be told, of which the first three are incredible."

All of Mr Short's work is insured for at least £50,000, but Mr Huggins-Haig believes the notes could actually sell for up to £100,000.



Courtesy Peter Walker, The Telelgraph News February 19, 2017


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Australia reveals new $10 note


The Reserve Bank has revealed the design of the new $10 banknote to be circulated from September 2017.

The $10 banknote celebrates two famous Australian writers, Dame Mary Gilmore and AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson.



Saturday, February 11, 2017

Poland releases a new 500 Zlotych note


Poland releases into circulation a new 500 Złotych note on February 10, 2017.




Front: John III Sobieski (1629-1696), King of Poland 1674-1696

Back: Wilanów Palace in Warsaw; Arms

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bhutan plans to issue a new 100 Ngultrum commemorative banknote


Bhutan plans to issue a new 100 Ngultrum banknote in late 2017 to commemorate the First Birth Anniversary of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey, Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck.




Front: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema; Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck

Back: Mountains; dragon; Watermark: Jigme Singye Wangchuck with electrotype swirl

Mexico issued a new 100 pesos commemorative banknote


The Banco de México reportedly issued a new 100 Peso note on February 5, 2017 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the Mexican Constitution.




Front: Venustiano Carranza (1859-1920), Mexico's president 1917-1920 and Luis Manuel Rojas, chairman of Congress

Back: An assembly of congressmen

Friday, February 3, 2017

Zimbabwe has released new 5 Dollar bond notes


The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has released five dollar bond notes worth fifteen million dollars into the domestic market starting February 2, 2017.

The new note comes two months after the introduction of $2 bond note meant to help solve acute cash shortages in the country.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Israel unveils new banknotes featuring women


The Bank of Israel on Tuesday rolled out its new designs for the 20 and 100 shekel bills, both of which feature portraits of acclaimed Hebrew poetesses.

None of the new Israeli shekel banknotes currently in circulation — which come in denominations of NIS 20, 50, 100 and 200 — feature women. The NIS 10 bill issued in 1985 featured a portrait of former prime minister Golda Meir, until it was removed from circulation in the 1990s.

Meir was also featured on the 10,000 shekel bill prior to the replacement of the shekel with the new Israeli shekel in 1985. Numerous women were featured on the Israeli pound before it was supplanted by the shekel in 1980.

The new NIS 20 note’s design is red and will have an image of Rachel Bluwstein — known in Hebrew as Rachel the poetess — and the back of the bill will contain words from her poem “Kinneret,” known in English as the Sea of Galilee, alongside a picture of the shore of the same lake.



The new NIS 100 is orange and bears the portrait of Leah Goldberg, one of Israel’s most acclaimed poets and writers, and the back of the bill will have an image of deer with an excerpt from her poem “White Days.”


The new NIS 20 and NIS 100 banknotes will join the NIS 50 and NIS 200 bills, which were released in 2014 and 2015, respectively, to complete the release of the third series of notes of the new Israeli shekel.

The NIS 50 note has an image of Shaul Tchernihovsky, a Russian-born Hebrew poet, while the NIS 200 bill has a portrait of Natan Alterman, a Polish-born playwright, poet and journalist who wrote in Hebrew.

Although the Bank of Israel did not provide a date for the release of the new banknotes, it said that both bills will enter circulation by the end of 2017.



Courtesy Times of Israel February 1, 2017

Saturday, January 28, 2017

J.S.G. Boggs, Artist, Dies at 62; He Made Money. Literally.


J.S.G. Boggs holding both a $20 bill he painted and an actual government-issued bill.


Sitting in a Chicago diner in 1984, the artist Stephen Boggs began doodling on a paper napkin as he consumed a coffee and a doughnut. He started with the numeral 1, then transformed it into the image of a dollar bill.

His waitress, impressed, offered to buy it. Mr. Boggs refused, but presented it in payment for his 90-cent tab. The waitress handed him 10 cents in change.

An idea was born.

For the next three decades, Mr. Boggs, better known by his artistic signature, J. S. G. Boggs, kept money on his mind. Extending the logic of the diner transaction, he painstakingly reproduced British pounds, Swiss francs and American dollars, with quirky deviations.

On American currency, for example, he might use the signature “J. S. G. Boggs, Secret of the Treasury,” or inscribe “Kunstbank of Bohemia” on a $5,000 bill, or append the motto “In Fun We Trust.” At first he created the notes one by one, a time-consuming process. Later he ran off limited-edition prints.

He presented his currency to merchants as payment for goods and services. If the bills were accepted, he asked for a receipt and, when appropriate, change. He noted the details of each transaction on the backs of his “Boggs bills,” which were blank, and sold the receipts to collectors. It was up to them to track down the merchant — for a fee, Mr. Boggs would assist — and negotiate purchase of the note.

Mr. Boggs never sold his bills. He only spent them.

The assembled elements were, in the opinion of Mr. Boggs and his admirers, artworks, exhibited as such in galleries around the world and included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington.

“I create images that say things and ask things,” Mr. Boggs said in the 2013 Discovery Channel documentary “Money Man.” “I take them out into the real world and try to spend them, not as counterfeits, but as works of art that ask us about the nature of money.”

Law enforcement agencies in several countries took a different view. They regarded Mr. Boggs as a forger. They expressed this opinion, on several occasions, by seizing the notes or putting Mr. Boggs on trial.

“They said I was a counterfeiter,” an indignant Mr. Boggs told The Associated Press in 1992, when agents in the counterfeiting division of the Secret Service raided his apartment near Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he was an artist in residence, and took possession of more than 100 of his artworks. “They don’t understand the difference between art and crime.”

The Tampa police discovered Mr. Boggs’s body on Sunday in a motel near the Tampa airport. He was 62. Robert Salmon, manager of operations for the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office, said the cause of death had not been determined.

He was born Stephen Litzner in Woodbury, N.J., on Jan. 16, 1955. (He later added the names James and George.) His mother, the former Marlene Dietrich Hildebrandt, divorced his father when Stephen was an infant, and nothing is known about him.

She joined a carnival, performed as “Margo, Queen of the Jungle,” and in 1961 married a Tampa businessman, Jim Boggs, with whom she ran the Brahman Lounge, a bar and package store. She later wrote a neighborhood column for The Tampa Tribune, reporting on the doings in Brandon, the Tampa suburb where she lived.

Mr. Boggs attended Brandon High School but was expelled in his junior year. “I was accused of starting a riot in the auditorium, but it was somebody else who threw the book at the principal,” he told the journalist Lawrence Weschler, who wrote a profile of Mr. Boggs for The New Yorker in 1988 that evolved into a book, “Boggs: A Comedy of Values,” published in 1999.

He took courses at Miami University in Ohio, Hillsborough Community College in Tampa and Columbia University, pursuing, vaguely, a career in accountancy. In the late 1970s, he decided to study art and moved to London.

He enrolled in the Camden Arts Center there and began producing conceptual paintings — some consisting of repeated versions of his signature, others filled with elaborately embellished numbers.

After his fateful visit to Chicago, for the International Art Exposition at Navy Pier, he returned to London and pursued the money trail with little success until he exhibited “Pined Newt,” an oversize pound note, at the International Contemporary Art Fair in London in 1986. It sold for 1,500 times its face value and attracted the attention of Rudy Demenga, a Swiss art dealer, who invited him to Art Basel.

The Swiss turned out to be ideal customers. Wherever he went, Mr. Boggs found that his handcrafted bank notes, executed with a fine pen on expensive paper, were, so to speak, legal tender. He began dining in fine restaurants and moved into a five-star hotel.

“All money is art,” Mr. Boggs told The Orlando Sentinel in 1997. “If you look at a dollar, it’s portraiture, it’s landscape art, it’s abstract designs.

“I think people need to think more about money. If they did, they’d think more about what they do to make it and what they do with it once it is made.”

The British were less accommodating. As he was preparing to exhibit four bank notes at the Young Unknowns Gallery in London in 1986, three constables raided the gallery and hauled Mr. Boggs off to jail. He was charged with four counts of violating the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act.

The civil-rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson mounted a successful defense. Mr. Boggs paid him in Boggs notes. In his book “The Justice Game” (1998), Mr. Robertson wrote that the Bank of England, in response to the Boggs case, added a copyright notice to its paper currency.

Three years later, Mr. Boggs was arrested in Sydney, Australia. This time the judge dismissed the case and awarded him $20,000 in damages.

While in residence at Carnegie Mellon, Mr. Boggs planned to photocopy $1 million in Boggs bills and release them into the local economy, relying on others to keep them in circulation.

“I’ve been spending this money for eight years,” he told The Associated Press. “I’ve learned so much. I wanted to share the experience.”

Secret Service agents made it clear to local merchants that anyone using the bills as currency would face prosecution, and the grand experiment ended.

Mr. Boggs filed suit to regain possession of his notes — he had lost more than 1,300 artworks in raids between 1990 and 1992 — and to win legal recognition of his work as art. In 1993, Federal District Judge Royce Lamberth dismissed the suit.

“This court accepts Mr. Boggs’s belief that money is valued, in part, because of our trust in political institutions,” Judge Lamberth wrote in his ruling. “To that end, these political institutions should be given the means by which to establish and maintain the value of United States currency.”

He added: “It is often said that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ Unfortunately, Mr. Boggs’s works are often worth a thousand dollars.” Further appeals were unavailing.

“It’s all an act of faith,” Mr. Boggs told Mr. Weschler for his New Yorker profile. “Nobody knows what a dollar is, what the word means, what holds the thing up, what it stands in for. And that’s what my work is about. Look at these things, I try to say. They’re beautiful. But what the hell are they? What do they do? How do they do it?”

Over the years, Mr. Boggs, who leaves no immediate survivors, traded his bills for goods and services, from candy bars to motorcycles, whose worth he estimated at several million dollars.

In the mid-1990s, when Worth magazine asked him to design a note using the Treasury Department’s new guidelines, Mr. Boggs produced a $100 bill with the image of Harriet Tubman as a young girl, anticipating by 20 years the announcement that Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson as the new face of the $20 bill. In 2001, he ran off a series of 100,000 plastic Sacagawea dollars, stamped with his own mint marks and paid for with a $5,000 Boggs bill.

Speaking to ARTnews after Mr. Boggs’s death, Mr. Weschler said, “He was just short of being a con man, but no more than anyone in the art world, or for that matter in the world of finance — which, of course, was his whole point.”


Courtesy The New York Times by WILLIAM GRIMES JAN. 27, 2017