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Friday, July 26, 2013

There’s “Money” in Being a Writer

Written by Kyle Slagley

Folks in the United States are accustomed to seeing dead presidents and other political figures on banknotes. Folks in Canada branch out a little bit to include more than just dead Prime Ministers, but with only one or two exceptions, most of the faces on Canadian bills are political figures as well.

The money is clearly a bit stuffy and stodgy here in North America.

Europe, on the other hand, seems to be a bit more open-minded with their funds. The other day I heard on the radio that the Bank of England recently released the proof for the new Jane Austen ten-pound note, which will go into circulation sometime around 2017, according to BBC News. Austen will replace famed naturalist and author Sir Charles Darwin.

Obviously on this side of the pond, we are unaccustomed to seeing authors and writers on the cash lining (or not lining, as the case may be) our wallets, but after my curiosity got the better of me, I found there are a surprising number of writers who graced various currencies at one time or another.

A couple of the more unsurprising faces are Benjamin Franklin and Nelson Mandela, who also happen to be famous for much more than just their writing. Franklin’s image currently graces the U.S. one hundred dollar bill, and also was pictured on the two-dollar note, which is now out of print. South Africa’s currency, known as the rand, issued five new notes in 2012 – all of which feature Mandela on the front.

From there we delve into writers who were primarily just writers and only delved into political satire on the side. Probably the most satirical of the bunch would be Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, who was pictured on the Irish ten-pound note issued in 1976. Swift was replaced in 1993 by Ulysses author James Joyce.

Though the Bank of England is the central bank for the United Kingdom, the crown permits eight different banks to issue legal currency. Scotland is home to three of those banks, and each of them has issued notes featuring a different writer. In 1994, the Royal Bank of Scotland issued a one-pound commemorative note picturing Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island. In 1998, Clydesdale Bank issued a five-pound note picturing Robert Burns, author of the poem “A Red, Red Rose.” Finally, in 2007, the Bank of Scotland released four notes featuring Ivanhoe author Sir Walter Scott – the bank had previously released one note in 1999 featuring Scott.

To wrap up, lets venture outside the realm of English-speaking nations to Denmark and Germany. From 1952 to 1975, Denmark, whose currency is the krone, circulated a ten-krone note picturing Hans Christian Andersen – author of such fairy tales as “The Ugly Duckling,” “Puss in Boots,” and other characters you would now find in Shrek films.

Finally, from 1992 until they joined the EU in 2002, Germany circulated two 1,000-mark notes featuring the Brothers Grimm, one of Jacob and one of Wilhelm. The Brothers Grimm are of course responsible for “Hansel and Gretel,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rumplestiltsken,” and the other half of the Shrek cast of characters.

If you’re as curious as I was, check out this Wikipedia page to see who is pictured on the currencies of nations across the world.

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