Monday, October 1, 2007

Coins, Banknotes, Forgery Convertibility
Paper money originated in two forms: drafts, which are receipts for value held on account, and "bills", which were issued with a promise to convert at a later date.
Money is based on the coming to pre-eminence of some commodity as payment. The oldest monetary basis was for agricultural capital: cattle and grain. In Ancient Mesopotamia, drafts were issued against stored grain as a unit of account. A "drachma" was a weight of grain. Japan's feudal system was based on rice per year – koku.
At the same time, legal codes enforced the payment for injury in a standardized form, usually in precious metals. The development of money then comes from the role of agricultural capital and precious metals having a privileged place in the economy.
Such drafts were used for giro systems of banking as early as Ptolemaic Egypt in the first century BC.
The perception of banknotes as money has evolved over time. Originally, money was based on precious metals. Banknotes were seen as essentially an I.O.U. or promissory note: a promise to pay someone money, but not actual money. As banknotes became more widely used, they became more accepted as equivalent to precious metal. With the gradual removal of precious metals from the monetary system, banknotes evolved to represent fiat money.
Generally, a central bank or treasury is solely responsible within a state or currency union for the issue of banknotes. Historically, many different banks or institutions may have issued banknotes in a country. By virtue of the complex constitutional setup in the United Kingdom, two of the union's four constituent countries (Scotland and Northern Ireland) continue to print their own banknotes for domestic circulation, with the UK's central bank (the Bank of England) printing notes which are legal tender in England and Wales, and are also usable as money in the rest of the UK.

The use of paper money as a circulating medium is intimately related to shortages of metal for coins. In ancient China coins were circular with a rectangular hole in the middle. Several coins could be strung together on a rope. Merchants in China, if they became rich enough, found that their strings of coins were too heavy to carry around easily. To solve this problem, coins were often left with a trustworthy person, and the merchant was given a slip of paper recording how much money he had with that person. If he showed the paper to that person he could regain his money. Eventually from this paper money "jiaozi" originated. In the 600s there were local issues of paper currency in China and by 960 the Song Dynasty, short of copper for striking coins, issued the first generally circulating notes. A note is a promise to redeem later for some other object of value, usually specie. The issue of credit notes is often for a limited duration, and at some discount to the promised amount later. The original notes were restricted in area and duration, but the Yuan Dynasty, facing massive shortages of specie to fund their occupation of China, began printing paper money without restrictions on duration. By 1455, in an effort to rein in economic expansion and end hyperinflation, the new Ming Dynasty ended paper money, and closed much of Chinese trade.

Banknotes in Europe
Emergency paper money hand-written on playing cards was used in French Canada from 1685.
In the early 1690s, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first of the colonies to issue the permanently circulating banknotes. The use of fixed denominations and printed banknotes came into use in the 18th century.
In the United States, public acceptance of banknotes in replacement of precious metals was hastened in part by Executive Order 6102. This order carried the threat of a maximum $10,000 fine and a maximum of ten years in prison for anyone who kept more than $100 of gold in preference to banknotes. Similar measures were taken worldwide, with similar results.

Banknotes in the Americas

Materials used for banknotes
Most banknotes are made of dense 80 to 90 grams per square meter cotton paper (see also paper), sometimes mixed with linen, abaca, or other textile fibres. Generally, the paper used is different from ordinary paper: it is much more resilient, resists wear and tear, and also does not contain the usual agents that make ordinary paper glow slightly under ultraviolet light.
Early Chinese banknotes were printed on paper made of mulberry bark and this fibre is used in Japanese banknote paper today.
Unlike most printing and writing paper, banknote paper is impregnated with polyvinyl alcohol or gelatin to give it extra strength.
Most banknotes are made using the mould made process in which a watermark and thread is incorporated during the paper forming process.
The thread is a simple looking security component found in most banknotes. It is however often rather complex in construction comprising fluorescent, magnetic, metallic and micro print elements. By combining it with watermarking technology the thread can be made to surface periodically on one side only. This is known as windowed thread and further increases the counterfeit resistance of the banknote paper. This process was invented by Portals, part of the De La Rue group in the UK.
Recently this company has introduced many new features to the banknote world including Cornerstone, Platinum and Optiks, all registered trade marks of De La Rue. Cornerstone uses watermarking to reduce the number of corner folds by strengthening this part of the note. Platinum is a special coating to reduce the dirt picked up by banknotes. Optiks is a new thread based security feature that creates a plastic window in the paper which is very hard to copy.

Paper money Paper banknotes
The ease with which paper money can be created, by both legitimate authorities and counterfeiters, has led both to a temptation in times of crisis such as war or revolution to produce paper money which was not supported by precious metal or other goods, thus leading to hyperinflation and a loss of faith in the value of paper money, e.g. the Continental Currency produced by the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, the Assignats produced during the French Revolution, the paper currency produced by the Confederate States of America and the Individual States of the Confederate States of America, the financing of the First World War by the Central Powers (by 1922 1 gold Austro-Hungarian krone of 1914 was worth 14,400 paper Kronen), the devaluation of the Yugoslav Dinar in the 1990s, etc. Banknotes may also be overprinted to reflect political changes that occur faster than new currency can be printed.
In 1988, Austria produced the 5000 Schilling banknote (Mozart), which is the first foil application (Kinegram) to a paper banknote in the history of banknote printing. The application of optical features is now in common use throughout the world.

Counterfeiting and security measures on paper banknotes

Main article: Polymer banknote Polymer banknotes
Over the years, a number of materials other than paper have been used to print banknotes. This includes various textiles, including silk, and materials such as leather.
Silk and other fibers have been commonly used in the manufacture of various banknote papers, intended to provide both additional durability and security. Crane and Company patented banknote paper with embedded silk threads in 1844 and has supplied paper to the United States Treasury since 1879. Banknotes printed on pure silk "paper" include "emergency money" (Notgeld) issues from a number of German towns in 1923 during a period of fiscal crisis and hyperinflation. Most notoriously, Bielefeld produced a number of silk, leather, velvet, linen and wood issues, and although these issues were produced primarily for collectors, rather than for circulation, they are in demand by collectors. Banknotes printed on cloth include a number of Communist Revolutionary issues in China from areas such as Xinjiang, or Sinkiang, in the United Islamic Republic of East Turkestan in 1933. Emergency money was also printed in 1902 on khaki shirt fabric during the Boer War.
Leather banknotes (or coins) were issued in a number of sieges, as well as in other times of emergency. During the Russian administration of Alaska, banknotes were printed on sealskin. A number of 19th century issues are known in Germanic and Baltic states, including the towns of Dorpat, Pernau, Reval, Werro and Woisek. In addition to the Bielefeld issues, other German leather Notgeld from 1923 is known from Borna, Osterwieck, Paderborn and Pößneck.
Other issues from 1923 were printed on wood, which was also used in Canada in 1763-1764 during Pontiac's War, and by the Hudson Bay Company. In 1848, in Bohemia, wooden checkerboard pieces were used as money.
Even playing cards were used for currency in France in the early 19th Century, and in French Canada from 1685 until 1757, in the Isle of Man in the beginning of the 19th Century, and again in Germany after World War I.

Other materials
People are not the only economic actors who are required to accept banknotes. In the late twentieth century machines were designed to recognize banknotes of the smaller values long after they were designed to recognize coins distinct from slugs. This capability has become inescapable in economies where inflation has not been followed by introduction of progressively larger coin denominations (such as the United States, where several attempts to introduce dollar coins in general circulation have largely failed). The existing infrastructure of such machines presents one of the difficulties in changing the design of these banknotes to make them less counterfeitable, that is, by adding additional features so easily discernable by people that they would immediately reject banknotes of inferior quality, for every machine in the country would have to be updated.

Paper money collecting as a hobby

List of articles in the category "banknotes"
Polymer banknotes
Gallery of banknotes
Hell Bank Notes — bank notes used in afterworld
List of motifs on banknotes
Used notes
Banknote Counter
Federal Reserve Note
United States Note
Postal currency

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