Images of the Month Gallery|
Financial paper of the nineteenth century--banknotes, promissory notes, checks, stock certificates, and bonds being the most common--was often adorned with miniature works of art. Those who issued such currency sought to inspire confidence among the populace that those paper representations were acceptable substitutes for real wealth, i.e., gold, silver, commodities, etc. This was accomplished in part through the use of symbolic elements in the design of their legal tender. Portraits of governmental and financial leaders, drawings of banks and other institutions, images of the source of wealth--shipping, agriculture, manufacturing--and a variety of allegorical figures were used to decorate “money” in all of its many forms.