Friday, May 19, 2006

Old Money

Is beautiful.

[Hat tip: Jack Grant at The Moderate Voice]

When I was in West Berlin in the '70s, I bought in an antique shop a stack of old German World War I-era currency. You could get it by the fistful, out of a cardboard box, for, I think, 5 for the Mark or something (about a quarter apiece). I have kept them as fascinating specimens of the engraver's art.

The fact that most are well-worn and creased from folding down to wallet size only makes me appreciate them more and imagine where they've been. Perhaps Joseph Roth peeled off this bill for admission to the theater or the steam bath.

Here are a few of them. Click for larger views. Interesting the change in design sensibility between Wilhelmine and Weimar.