Tuesday, January 26, 2021

American Calligraphy #5: Greenbacks

 ABCs of the USA: The stories behind America's most distinctive calligraphy styles.  

Early American paper currency, issued first by the states and later by the federal government, was printed in various colors of ink on one side
of the paper. In 1861, Demand Notes (essentially government IOUs) first came out out printed on both sides in a distinctive tone of ink; they were nicknamed “greenbacks.” Today, in addition to watermarks, fine detail, and subtle multi-color printing, American dollars are protected against forgery with such high-tech  tactics such as microdots, embedded threads, and holograms.* 
Examine any dollars that you still carry around--they may not be so common much longer in an all-digital, pandemic economy--and note their detailed letters and borders and images. While you're at it, keep your eyes open 👀 for those early Jacob Lew signatures on the dollar, described last week, January 19, 2021. 

"Old Money" writing paper. 
*Since around 1990, to combat counterfeiting, U S currency printing paper has had inorganic inclusions. Before then, Crane & Co used to recycle worn out U S dollars into a beautiful writing paper called “Old Money.” It had a sage green tone, and the pure cotton and linen fibers gave it a velvety texture. Though now discontinued, it is still a much-sought-after collector’s item among calligraphy and pen enthusiasts. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this interesting note about how "old money" was recycled into letter paper. Beautiful!