Sunday, August 18, 2013

The American Hundred Dollar Bill

Esquire - "How Money Is Made: The Benjamin"

"[Brian] Thompson likes money that tells a story — something that, despite the constraints of a note's size and technological necessities, could pass for narrative, for art. He's constantly looking at the cash of other countries for inspiration (current favorites include the Danish krone and the Botswana pula), but he cites two principal influences: Georgia O'Keeffe, whose paintings of landscapes and flowers taught him how to combine balance with flow, and Escher, whose intricate, mathematical drawings showed Thompson the importance of precision and the power of illusion. "He would have been an incredible banknote designer," Thompson says. "He would have freaked people out."

"A man named Edward Lowery is the special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Criminal Investigative Division. He looks and sounds exactly like a special agent, put-together and deep-voiced. Asked about the North Korean supernote, he won't say a word, refusing to acknowledge that it even exists. But he will acknowledge that the Secret Service shut down more than three hundred counterfeiting plants around the world in 2012, and for the agency, each one was a kind of school."

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