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All Posts Tagged With: "Princeton"

Money on Paper Exhibit at Firestone Library, Princeton University Opens August 30th

Bank Notes and Related Graphic Arts from the Collections of Vsevolod Onyshkevych and Princeton University – August 30, 2010, to January 2, 2011

Paper money as a form of art might seem the makings of a rather small exhibition, to judge from the modern bills of the United States and Europe. Bank notes, however, have constituted one of the dominant forms of visual communication for the past two centuries, and in many cases can be seen as works of art in their own right. Princeton University’s Numismatic Collection is featuring currency worth looking at in the exhibition “Money on Paper” on view in the August 30, 2010, through January 2, 2011.

New Jersey, 1 shilling, December 31, 1763.
Printed by James Parker, Woodbridge.

Because British colonial policies resulted in a dearth of circulating coins, the American colonies were the home of the earliest regular issues of paper money. Illustration was applied to colonial currency as an anti-counterfeiting device as well as for aesthetic purposes. Not surprisingly, the most inventive printer of paper money of the time was Benjamin Franklin, who devised a system of transferring the vein patterns of tree leaves to printing plates to foil counterfeiters. The Princeton exhibition includes a large selection of Franklin’s nature-print notes, as well as issues of Paul Revere and the South Carolina engraver Thomas Coram, who brought classical imagery to that colony’s bank notes.

One of the highlights of the exhibit will be the first public display of the recently discovered banknote engraving of a grouse by John James Audubon, the great wildlife illustrator’s first published work. On display with a sample sheet containing the vignette will be an original watercolor by Audubon, a steel printing plate from The Birds of America, and the Princeton first edition of the elephant folio book open to the page with Audubon’s drawing of the pinnated grouse.

Asher B. Durand, one of America’s greatest painters, was also a major figure in the development of bank note art in this country. Along with his brother Cyrus, who invented a highly decorative series of anti-counterfeiting devices, he developed a classical, patriotic approach to bank note design that dominated the medium for the first half of the nineteenth century.

Montgomery $1,000
Confederate States of America, $1,000, Montgomery, May 22, 1861.
Portraits of John C. Calhoun and Andrew Jackson

A section of the Princeton exhibit will explore the divergence of imagery on the bank notes of northern and southern issuers before and during the Civil War. Collectors of paper money will be especially interested by the complete set, in Extremely Fine condition, of six notes printed by the National Bank Note Company in New York and smuggled into the Confederacy in 1861 for distribution as notes of Montgomery, Alabama, and Richmond, Virginia. The American section of the exhibition ends with the high point of American bank note art, the Educational Series of 1896, designed and engraved by some of the most important illustrators of the day. (more…)

Princeton University Numismatic Collection Acquires 7th Century “Jesus” Coin

From The Times of Trenton, NJ

It’s not the kind of coin you’d want to plunk into a soda machine, nor is it the kind you’d find while digging around under your couch cushions.

pinceton_jesus_coinIt’s a Byzantine gold coin from the seventh century with an image of Jesus Christ on its face, issued by Emperor Justinian II. It’s the first known coin to have a Christ image, and it now has a new home in the Princeton University Numismatic Collection.

It’s a high quality specimen that Alan Stahl, the university’s curator of numismatics, said he had been seeking for several years, only to be outbid at auction again and again.

“Finally, a dealer with whom I’d placed a bid a couple of times found one in a private collection and offered it to us at a reasonable price.” The coin has been dated to the year 692.

According to Stahl, the Princeton University’s numismatic collection contains about 100,000 items and is reputed to be the oldest institutional collection in the country.

He said the gold coin was a specimen valuable not only in terms of the coinage of the eastern Mediterranean in the Middle Ages, but in the history of all coinage.

“The most important thing is that it’s the first time the image of Christ is used as the main image on the coin,” Alan Stahl – Curator of Numismatics

Until this time, most coins had only featured portraits of the period’s ruling emperor. In this case, Justinian II was cast on the reverse of the coin.

And while this may seem like a benign bit of imagery to us today, it sent shock waves across the region in its time.

“This was considered really shocking in its time, and it got reactions all over,” he said.

To read the complete article, see: Princeton acquires coin with an image of Jesus from the 7th century (