cover image The Art of Money: The History and Design of Paper Currency from Around the World

The Art of Money: The History and Design of Paper Currency from Around the World

David Standish, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $19.95 (132pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-2805-5

Beginning with the sunflowers on the Netherlands' 50-gulden note (Standish loves them) and ending with the redesigned American fives, tens and twenties (hates them), Standish's handsome, offbeat and color reproduction-stuffed volume displays and describes the world's various paper moneys. Standish, a journalist and former Playboy articles editor, sometimes looks at currency design as a matter of pure aestheticsDwhat colors, where? What kinds of lines, and why? But he also shows how ""countries project their self-image through their money,"" recording their history and deciding what they want their visitors to see. He includes the ""tough guys""Dmythic rebels and pre-Columbian godsDon much Latin American dinero; the engraved airplanes on Singapore's money, which promote its national airline; and the countenance of Queen Elizabeth, which graces more nationalities' cash than any other phiz. A ""Short History of Money"" explains, and depicts, the evolution of coinage and then of bills in Greece, Rome and medieval China, whose reliance on bills gave it, in the 10th century, ""the world's first hyperinflation."" A final chapter surveys American money, which at various points depicted Washington crossing the Delaware, Ben Franklin with a kite, and ""Pocahontas getting baptized."" The careful photography of Tony Armour and Joshua Dunn and an unusually fine job of productionDcrisp, fine-grained paper and true-to-bill colorsDreproduce the experience of handling all this exotic cash. (Nov.)