The Standard Catalogue of the Provincial Banknotes of England & Wales

The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) has awarded its 2011 Book of the Year, for a book published in 2010, to The Standard Catalogue of the Provincial Banknotes of England & Wales by Roger Outing. The announcement was made at the Annual General Meeting of the IBNS in Memphis, Tennessee, USA in early June.

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Already considered an essential guide for collectors of English and Welsh paper money, Roger Outing’s book covers a wide range of bank note and banking information. While the book carries on the pioneering work of Geoffrey Grant’s The Standard Catalogue of Provincial Banks and Banknotes, there is much more to Mr. Outing’s work. The main section of the new work is an alphabetical listing of issuing banks by town, which also incorporates the multi-branch joint stock banks. This is followed by a full listing of the London private and joint-stock banks; most of which never issued banknotes, but the comprehensive coverage is a boon for bank historians, as well as collectors of cheques and other financial ephemera. A further section lists all non-bank issuers by town of origin – mostly collieries, ironworks and the like, which issued notes in the early years of the nineteenth century. The final section covers Skit Notes, an area not previously researched in detail. Skit Notes were often prepared for advertising, entertainment or political purposes, and quite often were designed to look similar to genuine notes. While only items issued prior to 1900 are included, there are still details of some 63 ‘issues’.

The Standard Catalogue of the Provincial Banknotes of England & Wales is an impressive work – not only is the information of great value, it is very well presented. A large format, hard-back publication of 520 pages, with over 850 colour illustrations, the book has been prepared to a high standard by its publishers – Token Publishing of the United Kingdom. This catalogue and price guide is a wonderful example of the investment of time and effort into the research of paper money and the IBNS congratulates Roger Outing on a valuable achievement and contribution to the world of paper money.


Moneymakers: The Wicked Lives and Surprising Adventures of Three Notorious Counterfeiters by Ben Rarnoff

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This 396-page hardcover was a bit of a disappointment for me, perhaps because I am very interested in the subject of counterfeiting from a technical perspective and this book focuses more on the forgers themselves and the economic state of America during the times in which three “most successful counterfeiters” operated, starting in Colonial times, then the early 1800s, and finally during the Civil War. Also, I found the attempts to draw parallels to the recent Wall Street scandals a bit of stretch.

Austrian Papermoney after 1759

Katalog der österreichischen Banknoten ab 1759 (Austrian Papermoney after 1759) by Johann Kodnar and Norbert Künstner
384 pages, soft cover, 210 x 147 mm, color illustrations, German with English translations, self-published by Kodnar and Künstner, ISBN 978-3-200-01957-7

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This paperback is the best specialized catalog covering all the banknotes of Austria. This second edition was published in 2010 and vastly improves upon the first edition by stretching coverage all the way back to 1759 and up through the euros in 2002. Also new in this edition are specimens and additional variations, making it the single best source for information on all Austrian notes issued for general circulation as well as specialized issues and unissued designs.

Much of the new material covers the early notes which collectors rarely see in person due to their extreme scarcity. I appreciated the explanation and inclusion of “formulares,” which were issued from 1762-1849 to serve the same purpose as specimens, but overprinted with a large X on different paper from the actual notes, or with design elements omitted. From 1880 onward, Austria used specimens instead, and both are thoroughly documented in this catalog.

For the most part, the layout features one note per page, with the front and back of the note appearing in full color, along with its nominal value, year (not the full date) of the note, a very terse description of the front and back design, size in millimeters, watermark, name of designer, dates in circulation, and value in euros for four grades of condition. The note images are detailed and printed on high-quality coated stock, making for an attractive book. I would have appreciated more detailed descriptions of the people, places, and objects depicted on the notes and their significance to Austria, as well as additional information on security features and signatories.

Breaking up the data on various issues are introductions written in German which help put the notes in historical context. There are cross references to English translations which appear at the back of the book. The English text is rather good, with only minor awkward phrasing that belies the translation from another language. More troubling is that the blocks of English text are not in chronological order, which can lead to confusion if read consecutively. In the next edition I would like to see the German and English appearing side-by-side along with the notes described. I’d also recommend against renumbering the notes again, although I can understand the authors’ desire to start fresh assigning numbers from the very beginning given that the coverage went from 150 types in the first edition to 269 in the second edition.

The back of the book has two things I particularly like. First, it’s full of advertisements from dealers who specialize in banknotes from Austria and the region. Many of these dealers were not ones with which I was already familiar, so they may prove to be useful sources in the future. The other feature I like is the 20-page section containing thumbnail images of the fronts of all the notes and their valuations. This can be used as a quick-reference guide to notes in your collection or on your want list.

Everyone with a serious interest in Austrian notes should own this catalog which is well worth the cost of just under US$30.