Throughout the course of history, currency has assumed many forms. From carefully carved and polished shells to the paper and coin we know today.
Colonial America began creating their own currency much to the dismay of the Brits but their system and currency were flawed. Most colonies had developed their own coins and some had even experimented with paper currency. However, the money was not universal and many found that in some areas their money was next to worthless. To make matters worse, it was easily replicated and therefore counterfeiters had an abundance of readily available money, further damaging an already feeble economy.
Benjamin Franklin, the innovative genius, and jack-of-all-trades he was, developed a new and creative way to help secure the ever-evolving new nation’s currency by masterminding a new anti-counterfeiting method.
Franklin printed money for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware and beginning in 1739, in efforts to throw off counterfeiters, Franklin would deliberately misspell Pennsylvania on the bills. With the idea at the forefront that any person attempting to recreate the new currency would believe the real bill was a fake, they would then correct the spelling on their phony money.
To further protect the integrity of the new paper currency, Franklin had lead casts made of actual leaves, which he used to print the said foliage’s’ image onto the back of the bills. The leaves also contained finely detailed copper engravings of the intricate veins in leaves chosen for this revolutionary idea. His ingenious creation was not discovered until the 1960’s when a historian stumbled across the information and shed light to the public.
Benjamin Franklin was a brilliant polymath who contributed much of his intelligence to the nurturing of our nation. A founding father whose efforts to secure a prosperous ideal is still reflected today.
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