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Bank Notes

On the 13th of January, 1819, Mr. James Fergusson, of Newman Street, Oxford Street, printer, sent to the Commissioners for inquiring into the Prevention of Forgery of Bank Notes, his plan for that purpose, of which the following is his published description.

“My plan is reared upon the solid foundation of putting it in the power of every individual to be certain whether a Bank-note is genuine or spurious by inspection. I propose, in order to form the ground-work of Bank-notes, to cast a fount, or several founts, of types, formed of such a peculiar shape, that, when printed from, the impression would appear, at first sight, like a line engraving; while, at the same time, when examined more closely, every part of it might be easily read. Although it is not in my power, without going to considerable expence, to produce a specimen of such types as ought to be made for this purpose, yet no one will deny that they may be obtained by means of punch-cutters and letter-founders.

This being granted, let me suppose that I have got such types; I should then proceed to compose a page with them of the size of a Bank-note, consisting of such subject-matter as may be deemed advisable, — probably, an explanation of the way by which forgery could be detected. From this page of moveable types, I should make a stereotype plate; and I should then, by stamping or engraving upon the stereotype plate, put the promissory words of the Bank-note, with the addition of whatever ornamental lines might be thought proper. This stereotype plate, so formed, would give, by one pull at the letter-press, a completed Bank-note, unless it might be deemed requisite to add the numbering; and a signature or signatures, in writing.

Having got one stereotype plate in the way I describe, I should use it for no other purpose than to obtain others; and from them I could easily make plates to any amount that may be necessary, all which would yield impressions obviously alike. As the promissory and ornamental parts of the note, in white, will purposely be made to intersect the words printed in black all over the surface of the note, the intersections will prove an infallible guide to distinguish a spurious note from a genuine one. This contrivance of intersections being the leading feature in my plan, I have denominated it The Intersection Plan.

“Individuals, when familiarized to notes issued upon this principle, would naturally select some portion to which they might easily refer, to ascertain the genuineness of a note. And, for further security, if necessary, the Bank might print what I may call Standards, for the use of the public, to be sold for a trifle, merely to insure their preservation. The Standards to be printed from the same plates as the notes themselves, but on paper quite of another texture and colour from the note paper, for the purpose of proving the correctness of the intersections.” See Forgery.

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