Echoes of the WeekThe Illustrated London News, vol. 47, no. 1339, p. 382.
October 21, 1865
There is an old gentleman who keeps a bookstall under an archway close by the Bibliothèque Impériale, in the Rue de Richelieu, Paris; and who, in addition to rare old books and pamphlets, vends literary "curios."... At how much discount, I wonder, will Fenian bonds be quoted five years hence? The Times correspondent in New York has sent home a most graphically written picture of one of these fantastic securities. In the left-hand top corner is a harp, in the right a shamrock; then "£1," and the figure of Hibernia in the centre. The bond is to be convertible into cash "ninety days after the establishment of the Irish Republic," and are redeemable by --- Blank. This is judicious. In the left-hand bottom corner there is a "burst of sunbeams." Poor Fenians! Are they, indeed, the "hereditary bondsmen whom Daniel O'Connell was so fond of apostrophising?
It is worth noting that these shadowy shin-plasters are said to be engraved by the American Continental Bank-Note Company, a very wealthy corporation, doing an immense business. They have in their employ some of the very finest line engravers living, and their album of proofs, which I have seen, contains some really magnificent specimens of chalcography. But the subjects on which the burin has been employed form a most wonderful salmagundi. The banks in the United States way be counted by thousands; every bank is ambitious to have a distinctive and original form of note for its issue, and the result is a perfect chaos of ships in full sail, steam-engines, beehives, "bursts of sunbeams," star-spangled banners, cornucopias, caryatides, masks and faces, and allegories of commerce, confidence, and Columbia. Sometimes the president of the bank causes his own portrait to be engraved on the face of the note (as Messrs. Lincoln and Chase had theirs on the greenbacks); sometimes he has a pretty daughter, and has her effigy inscribed on the document. For the rest, the Continental Bank-note Company seem quite indifferent to politics, and will engrave notes for Canada, New Brunswick, Mexico, or the empire of Brazil, as blithely as for their own republic....