Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
PaidTales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Bill Maurer and Lana Swartz

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035750

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035750.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021



(p.155) 13 Leaves

Whitney Anne Trettien

, Bill Maurer, Lana Swartz
The MIT Press

In the early 18th century, the American colonials were awash with both paper currency and its twin: counterfeit bills. Benjamin Franklin became a proponent of using leafs prints in currency as an anti-counterfeiting measure. Duplicating a leaf print is difficult not just because the resulting patterns are so complex, but because the original leaf is destroyed in the process. Franklin’s innovation, then, is that he shifts the burden of counterfeiting from copying the content of a note to discerning and iterating the process of its reproduction—even as that very process prevents the thing, the leaf, from ever being reproduced in the same way again. In this, we can see a kind of environmental nationalism: authority inheres not in the material substance of the paper itself but rather in the land that prints it and it printed upon it.

Keywords:   Benjamin Franklin, Leaf prints, Wood block prints, Counterfeiting, Paper money, State currency, American Colonial era

MIT Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.