Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Banknote Vignettes

Young woman at centre. Decorative patterns with number 5 at upper and lower centre. Male profile portrait at top centre. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Young woman at centre. Decorative patterns with number 5 at upper and lower centre. Male profile portrait at top centre. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Vignette with number 5 and with female profile portrait as background at centre. Decorative patterns at upper and lower centre. Male profile portrait at top centre. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Vignette with number 5 and with female profile portrait as background at centre. Decorative patterns at upper and lower centre. Male profile portrait at top centre. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Vertical format. Female profile portrait at centre. Ornamental patterns at lower and upper centre. Design printed in black on tan paper. (19th c)
Vertical format. Female profile portrait at centre. Ornamental patterns at lower and upper centre. Design printed in black on tan paper. (19th c)



Two young boys as blacksmiths at centre. Decorative patterns with number 5 at upper and lower centre. Male profile portrait at top centre. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Two young boys as blacksmiths at centre. Decorative patterns with number 5 at upper and lower centre. Male profile portrait at top centre. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Standing female figure with mirror on the one hand and sunflower on the other. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Standing female figure with mirror on the one hand and sunflower on the other. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Letter X at centre and two female figures surrounding it. Design printed in black on tan paper. (19th c)
Letter X at centre and two female figures surrounding it. Design printed in black on tan paper. (19th c)


Female figure seating at a V letter (Victory), holding staff with snakes. Design printed in black (19th c) - numismatics: banknote vignette
Female figure seating at a V letter (Victory), holding staff with snakes. Design printed in black (19th c)


Blacksmith at centre. Second male fiugre in the background at left. Banknote design printed in black. (19th century)
Blacksmith at centre. Second male fiugre in the background at left. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Allegorical female figure holding scales. Eagle next to her. Bank note design printed in black. (19th c)
Allegorical female figure holding scales. Eagle next to her. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Female figure holding winged staff with snakes. Design printed in black. (19th c) banknote illustration
Female figure holding winged staff with snakes. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Neptune in a shell at centre. Sailing ships in the background. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Neptune in a shell at centre. Sailing ships in the background. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Allegorical female figure. Design printed in black. (19th c numismatics)
Allegorical female figure. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Two female winged figures and two children surrounding a large number 20. Design printed in black. (19th c.)
Two female winged figures and two children surrounding a large number 20. Design printed in black. (19th c.)


Allegorical winged female figure at centre. Sailing ships in the background. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Allegorical winged female figure at centre. Sailing ships in the background. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Two female figures with the one holding scales. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Two female figures with the one holding scales. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Two female figures at centre. Horse in the background. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Two female figures at centre. Horse in the background. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Eagle sitting on a branch at centre. Canal scene and train in motion in the background. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Eagle sitting on a branch at centre. Canal scene and train in motion in the background. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Female figure at left. Cornucopia standing on a base at centre. Child at right. Design printed in black on tan paper. (19th c)
Female figure at left. Cornucopia standing on a base at centre. Child at right. Design printed in black on tan paper. (19th c)


Female figure standing next to a large number 5. Design printed in black. (19th c)
Female figure standing next to a large number 5. Design printed in black. (19th c)


Hunter accompanied by dog. Design printed in black. (19th c)

Hunter accompanied by dog. Design printed in black. (19th c)


[The first half of the images above are displayed at their full size, in some cases the image was cropped; click through on the second half of the images for somewhat enlarged versions. A few of the images have been lightly background cleaned.]


The above paper money engraved vignettes were produced in the United States in the 19th century. They all come from the British Museum Prints Database and no other information beyond the captions above was supplied. (At least, I don't think there was any general overview but I collected most of these images a couple of years ago and I haven't come across any outline while revisiting the collection today: sometimes they provide curator's notes without citation in related material)
I think the search terms were "banknote" and "banknote +USA" and "Made in USA". I seem to recall there are about two hundred or so vignettes available.
"Elaborate engravings, called vignettes, and color, were originally used as measures against counterfeiting. As the 19th century progressed, the variety and intricacy of vignette subjects exploded-with the most elaborate designs created at the end of the century. The great variety of U.S. paper money designs disappeared after U.S. Government paper currency was introduced in 1861." [source]

I know very little about numismatics but I found the following links worthwhile:

11 comments :

Tristan Alexander said...

Ah, lovely! Back when money was artistic and not the crap stuff we have now!

vanderleun said...

British Museum server is off-line.

Simona Ardelean said...

the allegorical feminine figure reminds me a bit of Goya's Caprichos.
thank you for the link you gave me a while ago.

peacay said...

It's back up now. That's the first time I've seen the site down (it was unavailable for about 6hrs in total).

aardvark61 said...

Regarding the staff with snakes: that must be caduceus, the staff of Mercury, symbol of merchants and trade.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caduceus

peggyfussell said...

These are all so beautiful! I could examine the detail for hours.

KFM Gallery said...

nice! wish we had money like that these days!

Bryony Dick said...

The winged wand with the snakes wrapped around it is called a caduceus. In Greek mythology Apollo gave it to Hermes in exchange for the lyre. The reason you see it on doctors' offices all the time is because it was also carried (in Greek mythology) by the healer Asclepius.

The Selma Intelligencer said...

I'd still rather have the gold the 20 was backed by... $20 worth of gold back then is worth $1200+ now.

Ray D said...

I produced these commercials for the New York Lottery that dealt with the history of the dollar bill. You might find the imagery relevant.

http://vimeo.com/15110029
http://vimeo.com/15110037
http://vimeo.com/15110051

peacay said...

Thanks!

Ray, on balance I agree that Changes, Lucky 13 & Materials are on point (and pretty cool too, thanks!)

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