Competition for US Dollar note design in 1850s

Natasha Ahmedaj of Central Bank if Albania in this speech says:

In mid 1800s, announcing the competition on American banknote, the US Secretary of the Treasury, specified two obligatory requirements to participants about the design:

  • it had to be original, and unpublished previously, and
  • have a national character.

Since at the beginning, the banknote is thought as not only a means of exchange, but also as an education tool for the public. As such, it should bear important moments of the history. The banknote performs this function through complicated techniques of subtly fine lines, to prevent reproduction, attributable also to robust security features.

Although we frequently have these valuable papers on our hands, seldom do we concentrate for a few minutes and enjoy the art embedded in them. We very rarely focus on examining how the work of a talented painter is intertwined in a sort of a miniature canvas with that of a talented engraver, turning that piece of paper into an elegant expression of creative art. The image is familiar, but it is hard to believe that 14% of interviewers in advanced countries are able to remember recognise the picture designed on each banknote. Even less people may recognise the portrait depicted on 1000 Leke or 2000 Leke Albanian banknotes.

Museums and various activities organised in light of promoting national values and raising the public awareness help to better transmit the message embedded in banknotes, and educate the public through the art in banknotes, featuring elements of our national identity.

For this particular reason, numismatists take delight in the subtleties of colours and images of the banknotes. In the apparently just pieces of paper, they are able to distinguish and recognise different ages, and the degree of social freedom.

In addition, banknotes may also depict concerns of a society, of course, when the artist was able to properly read this concern. Hence, the green of US dollar was chosen as a symbol to express the need of the stability in the period of civil war. The 2017 series of Norwegian currency reflects the concern on the return to the human basic needs, which are taken away by digitalisation. In reflection to this concern, the portraits of distinguished people of art and science are replaced with the symbols of natural resources, strongly related with the identity of the Norwegian people, such as the Viking ship, fish or the lighthouse.

All these facts show that nothing has threatened the educational and national mission of the banknote….

Competition on the 1850s sound really interesting..


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