The Art of Currency – The Imagery of Presses

As a coin collector, it’s very easy to appreciate the art, colors, and designs of all the national currencies in our world. And when a beautiful currency note reveals a printing press? It doesn’t get much better than that.  We have two examples of small but oh so detailed works of art depicting presses and pressmen.

On the Colombian Cien Pesos Oro – circa 1990 – is a little jewel in the corner of a common press.  There is an interesting story behind this currency and explains why a press image.  On the front is General Antonio Nariño, who was a political activist and founded a political newspaper in the 1800’s.  He was a great admirer of Benjamin Franklin and translated the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which he printed and distributed from his own private press, much to the ire of his government.

On the 50 Kronur from Iceland, circa 1981, is a wonderful illustration of two pressmen on a Gutenberg Press. On the front is Bishop Gudbrandur Thorlaksson, who lived from 1570 to 1627.  He edited and published over 80 books including the first complete Icelandic translation of the Bible.  He set up a press in his home and was also the engraver of the woodcuts in this Bible.  A rare first edition of this Bible is in the National Library of Scotland.

Not only can we appreciate the art but the stories remind us that people today are still printing books and broadsides from similar presses.

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