London: Printed by Order of the Society and Sold by the Housekeeper at the Society’s House in the Adelphi, 1819. 8vo [20.5 by 13.5 cm], contemporary marbled boards rebacked in later dark blue calf; spine with four raised bands, ruled and lettered in gilt. 80 pages, as follows: (4), 1–59, (1), 57*, 58*, 59*, (1), (61)–72, complete as issued; text illustration; plate of T.C. Hansard’s Plan for a Typographic Bank Note; finely engraved plate of a Bank of England £1 note design submitted by Thomas Ransom; an exceptional engraved plate of bank note design elements submitted by R.H. Solly; a fine engraved folding plate, slightly trimmed, of a printing press for bank notes also submitted by Solly; and 2 finely engraved steel-printed plates of geometric designs submitted by Richard Williamson. Acquisition number inked in margin of first page; no other indications of previous ownership. Slightly trimmed but with very little browning or other signs of age. Near fine. Item #5585
A landmark work. In the three or four years preceding publication, “convictions before the criminal courts for the circulation of Forgeries of the Bank of England Note” had risen precipitously, resulting in the “increasing reluctance of Juries to visit with the extreme penalty of the law.” This handsome production presents the results of “an investigation for the purpose of ascertaining whether there exist any means, within the compass of the fine and the mechanical arts, not of totally preventing the Forgery of Bank Notes (for that is obviously impossible), but of increasing the difficulty of imitation, and thus of checking the prevalence of the crime.” The committee’s findings, largely penned by Thomas Curson Hansard, had great impact on the course of anti-counterfeiting measures and technology in America as well as Great Britain. Many of the suggestions for technological improvements were in fact derived from American sources. Discussed at some length in Hewitt & Keyworth’s 1987 As Good as Gold: 300 Years of British Bank Note Design. Quite rare: this is only the second copy we have handled since 2005. Goldsmiths 22503. Kress C 414. McKerchar 217.