Unusual and Fascinating Currency

Graphical Marvels, Forged Notes, Hyperinflation "Riches" and Propaganda Bed Sheets

"Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value - zero." (Voltaire, 1694-1778)

World's historical bank notes often provide the clearest and unique view on country's political and design sensibilities. For example, old Russian Empire bank notes were pretty elaborate and some of the largest in size:

German crisis money around 1921 "Serienscheine" (series notes) are especially fascinating from a graphical viewpoint - see more here:

Imaginary (thank God!) Bank of Cthulhu:
Polish bank notes with Frédéric Chopin - an epitomy of culture:
A humble squirrel is featured on bank notes from Belarus:

The world’s oldest known banknote

The earliest recorded use of paper money is in China around 800 AD, although the Chinese abandoned paper money in the mid fifteenth century. This Chinese Kuan note is the world’s oldest known banknote, from around 1380.
European paper money as we would recognize it today seems to have its origins in the seventeenth century. In 1633, English goldsmith certificates were being used as receipts for customers to reclaim deposits, and also as evidence of someone’s ability to pay. By 1660, these receipts were recognized as a convenient alternative to handling coins or bullion, a forerunner perhaps of the banknote in England.

The Bank of Sweden was founded in 1656, granting loans and mortgages, issuing bills of credit and taking deposits. In 1661, it was the first chartered bank in Europe to issues notes. This hundred Daler note was issued in 1666:

In the UK, the Bank of England has been issuing banknotes since 1694, but didn’t have a legal monopoly until 1921. Decimal currency was introduced in the UK on February 15, 1971. The fifty pence coin, one of the first new ones issued, is very familiar to the people of Britain since its introduction almost four decades ago, but still seems odd to the outsider with its heptagonal shape (below, left).

The British public, however, had seen a multi-sided coin before. The threepenny bit was introduced in the mid-thirties, although a threepenny coin had been minted in silver since 1547. The twelve-sided version would remain in circulation until 1970 (above, middle). However, the new decimal system wasn’t without its oddities. The half penny coin enjoyed a surprisingly long and increasingly pointless existence, before it was withdrawn from the monetary system in 1984 (above, right).

Scotland has a number of distinct institutions, quite separate to England and Wales, and this includes currency. Scottish banknotes are recognized as currency in Scotland and usually in other parts of the UK, but may be refused by people in stores who are unfamiliar with such notes. However, they are of the same value as English notes and financial institutions will accept them without question:
Banknotes issued by Northern Ireland banks have similar status to Scottish ones and can technically be used anywhere in the UK. However, they are rarely seen outside Northern Ireland and are thus equally rarely accepted in England and Wales, although once again, financial institutions will readily take them. This limited edition banknote from 2006 commemorates the soccer legend George Best:
The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are somewhat confusingly possessions of the British Crown, but not part of the UK. Consequently, although they have currency unions with London, they each issue their own banknotes. However, unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, these notes cannot be used in the UK.

This Isle of Man banknote displays the island’s famous three-legged symbol:
These examples are from the islands of Jersey and Guernsey, located off the northern coast of France:

The Channel Islands were the only British territory to be occupied by Germany during World War Two. These are pictures of currency used during the German Occupation. The top ones were used by the people of Guernsey, while the lower one shows the military currency used by German army:
Also from World War Two, here is this great example of forged currency. Operation Bernhard was the German plan to destabilize the British economy by printing phoney banknotes in various denominations. In 1943, 500,000 notes were produced, which were planned to be parachuted over Britain. The Allies retrieved most the notes at the end of the war, but forgeries still occasionally appeared for several years after 1945:
Remnants of a once mighty empire, there are fourteen British Overseas Territories which all issue their own currencies, including Gibraltar, Saint Helena and the Falkland Islands, none of which are legal in the UK or outside the territories of origin (below, left):
In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne of England and was never actually crowned. As a result, coins bearing his head are collectors items. In the 1930’s, the British Empire spanned the globe and here’s a sovereign minted for the new king in Canada (above, right)

Also from North America, no article on currency would be complete without some mention of banknotes issues by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Here are two examples of Confederate twenty dollar bills from 1861 and 1864:
There was of course another independent country in the southern part of what is now the United States a few decades earlier. Here’s some money issued by the Republic of Texas in the 1830’s:
Although the shape of the British three penny and fifty pence coins may seem somewhat odd to non-UK residents, how about these coins minted in Zambia in honour of the 2000 Sydney Olympics? -
Also in Africa, the economic troubles of Zimbabwe in recent years have been reflected in the currency, such as this ten million dollar banknote from 2008:
However, it has been exceed by far with this one (click to enlarge):
Zimbabwe is not the first country to experience such hyperinflation, of course. After the First World War, Germany endured a severe economic crisis. In 1914, the highest denomination German note was for 1000 Mark, which was worth approximately 238 US dollars or 50 British pounds. In early 1922, the government issued 10,000 Mark notes, but by February 1923, Germans were using banknotes in denominations of 100,000 and 1 million Marks. Notes reached 50 million in July, 10 billion in September and 100 trillion when hyperinflation peaked in October 1923.

Just to give you an idea of what this meant for the average German, on November 1 1923, you could buy a loaf of bread for a measly three billion or truly splash out and get three pounds of meat for 100 billion. By November 15, 100 billion would get you two glasses of beer, not really enough to make you forget your troubles, while that loaf would now cost you 80 billion.

When it was all over, these huge banknotes were worth around 5 pounds or 24 US dollars. On November 15, the government introduced a new currency, one unit of which was worth a trillion of the old Marks. Prices eventually stabilized, but most of the population had nevertheless seen their wealth vanish.

5 Million Mark Note issued in Dresden on August 21, 1923:

Ten million:
50 million:
100 million:
100 trillion, Nov. 3 1923 - see this site for more:
Later in the interwar period Germany got a new government who’s head actually resisted having his own head on the national currency. However, with victory seemingly within sight, Adolf Hitler decided that his head should indeed adorn the country’s money, after the anticipated final triumph. This design for a five reichsmark coin was struck in 1942, but never issued:
The following banknotes were created by the Nazis for the infamous concentration camp, at Theresienstadt in what is now the Czech republic. The camp served as a showpiece for the Nazis to demonstrate to the Red Cross and other agencies how Jewish prisoners were being well treated, took part in cultural events and had schools for their children. In reality, over 30,000 people died in Theresienstadt and almost 90,000 were sent from there to extermination camps further east. These 10 and 20 Kronen notes were part of the propaganda ploy presented to the Red Cross, but were simply papers with no value and never used:

Hitler’s fellow dictator, Josef Stalin, got his head on the 100 Kronen coin in Soviet occupied Czechoslovakia 1949:
In Asia, World War Two resulted in what turned out to be temporary occupation currency in a number of different countries. This ten military yen note 1941 was issued during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong:
This one is from the Philippines occupation:

This 1944 100 Yuan banknote circulated in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, better known as Manchuria, in north west China:

And finally, also from Asia, probably the largest banknote in the world - 16cm(6.3in) by 16cm(6.3in) - issued in Thailand in 1987:
Bank note origami from a Japanese artist Hasegawa Yosuke - see his site for more:

Delicious and Utterly Irresistible Robot Sculptures

Back to the army of cute little robots:

Mike Slobot is a sculptor and painter, sculpting his own brand of robots called “the slobots” for about the last 5 years. Here is the "slobot" created for the Stitch Experiment 626 project: the original figure was a 10” tall Disney Stitch character from the Lilo and Stitch movie.

More slobots, including this cute SloBart, can be seen at Mike's website:

Here is a cool update from Lockwasher: "Roaming" Mobile Phone Man (left) and a head of the Phil Robot (made from an old railroad lantern!) -
Snuggly Little Robots and Obnoxious Huge Ones

When are robots NOT required to be efficient, super-smart, or uniquely useful? When robots are art, of course. More and more robots are being created from used and found parts all over the world for sheer viewing and cuddling pleasure of general public and lucky collectors. Here are some of them:

We featured chrome-delicious robot sculptures and ray-guns art before (read the whole series here). Now's the time for another groovy installment.

Toys? Not Toys?

This "Space Patrol" by UltraJunk is made from "a vintage boat motor gas tank, 60's auto seats side trim plates, Studebaker emblem and vintage microphone for the grill, old van interior lights for head lights, BBQ gas grill parts for the engine exhaust pipes, bicycle head light with a cut down 1960 Chevy tail light for the rear light, part of a ballerina toy for the bubble shield with a 50's Chrysler headlight ring for the bubble trim, Electrolux vacuum cleaner parts, antique wood burner top and clothes rack ring for the base, and other odds and ends." Gorgeous, isn't it?
"Even Robots Get the Blues":

Cars turn into wicked robots... so what else is new?

(think Toyota). OK, here is the real thing: a robot (full-size!) sculpture made from crashed BMW 645CI car parts by sculptor Bruce Gray
"This robot features a movable head, pivoting (simulated) energy pulse gun with movable joystick/fire button controller, movable upper arm and a forearm that raises and has a swiveling multi-positionable hand" - more info.

Don't stand in its line of sight! -

How "outcast robots find new loving homes"

Brian Marshall (aka Adoptabot) makes robots out of kitchen utensil and every other piece of used cutlery - with fascinating results:

Caroline Le Breton also uses kitchen utensils and cookware for her cute robot creations:
Quite funny and offbeat work by Clayton Bailey:
And don't forget to check updates at Bennett Robot Works!
Can't get enough tin toy robot art prints? Try illustrations by Karl Egenberger:
This is the Boilerplate Robot, the date is 1893, and yes, this photograph is a fake:

Misc. robot occupations... Some require more "right brain activity" than others (or is it "left brain activity", really?) - for example, conducting an orchestra:

Aaron Ristau's whimsical metal art projects include this "Frontier Cartography Robot":

Just be careful around some vintage tin toy robots - they can turn into the real thing in the blink of an eye! -
Robots bringing donuts? why, yes!

Incredibly whimsical, award-winning art of Eric Joyner is all about robots, giant and small collectible ones - you also may recognize some vintage toy robots in his artwork, like the ones we featured here.
Robots as teachers and teaching assistants:
Robots making/fixing other robots:
Ray Guns are still stuff of the future. How come?

Not that we want to promote development of weapons, but it just seems so incredible that we can build Large Hadron Collider but not a single working concept of a ray gun. In the meantime, Dr. Grordbort is busy creating ray gun "replicas":

Weta Digital Forum is probably the best place to hunt for wicked-looking ray guns and possibly collectible purchases.

To build a proper ray gun, you need precision view-finders and instruments. Zoom in... Enhance!

Why build only small cuddly robots? Build a HUGE exoskeleton for a badass robot, ready to dominate the world (or at least Alaskan town of Wasilla, where it was spotted - more info):

Amazing Miracle seagull shot by attackers SURVIVES despite having dart lodged in its head

With a dart lodged in its head after being shot by attackers, it’s a miracle this seagull has survived.

The distressed bird is still managing to fly even though the bolt, of which both ends are visible, pierced it between the eyes.

It was spotted by Graham Rhodes, a photographer who lives in Scarborough, who was left shocked. It’s the second recent case in the Burr Bank area after another seagull was found with an injured wing.

Mr Rhodes, who runs Aakschipper Gallery, said he believes the dart is a bolt from a crossbow – and he was concerned the attacks could result in an increase of violence in the town.

‘My main worry is that there is someone walking the streets of Scarborough with a crossbow and shooting at birds,’ he said.

‘If they are shooting at gulls in the sky and miss, the bolts have to go somewhere and could take someone's eye out.

‘It is incredibly hard to believe that the bird is still flying with a bolt in its head because you would think the weight of the object would restrict its movement.

‘However the bird seems absolutely normal,' he told the Scarborough Evening News.

‘The gulls are coming up to the breeding season and I always see this one with its mate when I walk my dog in the area. It is such a sad sight.’

It comes after the introduction of two harrier hawks in the area to clear gulls from the town’s Grand Hotel.

Geoff Edmond, RSPCA inspector for the Scarborough area, said it was ‘appalling’ and ‘completely illegal’ to shoot birds.

‘It is remarkable that the gull with the bolt in its head is still flying because the object could have hit the brain or fractured its skull,’ he added.

Awesome Underground House in Switzerland

Stunning house, designed by SeARCH and Christian Muller Architects, is fully embedded in the alpine landscape of Vals, Switzerland.

The viewing angle from the building is slightly inclined, giving an even more dramatic view of the beautiful mountains.

10 reasons why Goats are the most beautiful animals

10. A goat can rock an emo haircut and be cool. So what, goats can listen to emo rock and have cool profile pictures on myspace, can’t they?
9. The goat’s eye – the biggest bad ass eye of them all. The slits give the goats 340 degrees of vision without moving. People have 210 degree at most
8. Strange nap time. Nope, the goat has not passed away, it’s just pretending. This is how the goat takes afternoon naps, and it’s probably even having nice dreams while others are worried for its condition.
7. The goat is breaking the rules. It doesn’t care whether the gate is open or not, it enters wherever it wants.

6. Goats love bikes! Why should the goat bother walking when it can choose the easy way and rather ride a bike with a friend?
5. Goats on a tree. Isn’t that something you see every day? It’s pretty cool that they can chill wherever they want with their other goat friends. They probably have a great view from up there.
4. Egyptians loved goats. They attribute the strongest copulation drive to these animals and consider the member, which all living thing owe their existence , to be worry of veneration . Not everyone can be on hieroglyphics inside Pyramids
3. Movie star. The goat is a talented actor as well. Not everyone can be in the same big Hollywood movie with George Clooney.
2. Peeking is OK. Nobody minds when a goat is peeking under a girl’s skirt and it just never gets in trouble.

1. Goat can climb on cliffs that are steeper than you ever can imagine. Only the goat itself knows how it got up there, and just being on the top of a cliff like that must be pretty awesome.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Powered by Blogger