Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Remember When . . . The Money Was Fake?

I'm always amazed by how long counterfeiting has been around. Don't know why it surprises me, but yeah. Pretty much ever since there was paper money, there have been counterfeiting.

The big counterfeiting rings, however, often seem to be official. Ever heard the story about how Hitler had a massive operation set up to counterfeit British pounds and American dollars? Well, he sure wasn't the first leader who decided that was another way to fight a war. The British did it to the Americans too.

During the Revolution, the British began counterfeiting Congressional dollars pretty much as soon as Congress started printing them. The result? Well, a dollar was, shall we say, not off to a great start. In many parts of the young country prices had already risen to absurd numbers because of the boycott. In New York, they had the opposite problem--imported goods were still reasonably priced, but they couldn't get staples. The price of a pound of beef raised something like 800% in three years. And if you tried to pay with dollars? Ha!

They were, literally, using the dollars as wallpaper.

The British were so set on this plan to undermine the new American economy that they set up a counterfeiting headquarters on a ship the New York governor used as a floating state house. They'd sprung a forger from jail and put him to work. Nice, eh? The one flaw--their paper was too thick.

Until, that is, they stole several reams of paper from the press in Philadelphia.

It's a wonder our economy ever recovered, isn't it? Well, I'll now leave you hanging as to what happened and get to writing the novel about what happened. ;-) Happy Wednesday, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. What a devious plan! I've never heard of the full-scale governmental counterfeiting operations. Love that forger on the ship. Must have been nice to get back to doing what he loved!!