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Feb 21, 2011

It's just paper

A beautiful piece of paper, but just paper...

1896 $5 Educational Fr-269 VF30 S/n 25139605

The United States’ most beautiful piece of paper money, this note features an allegorical depiction of Electricity as the Dominant force in the world. The lavish vignette was originally drawn by Walter Shirlaw and hangs on the wall in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Thomas Morris redesigned the bill itself, and G.F.C. Smilie engraved the figures. The back features the heads of two Civil War generals: Ulysses S. Grant and Phillip Sheridan, flanked on all sides by ornate engraving.The female figure representing Electricity is clad in flowing robes, revealing a bare breast. This partial nudity was said to cause a disturbance nationwide, with Anthony Comstock, Secretary of the Society for Suppression of Vice, pressuring the U.S. Treasury to withdraw our obscene notes. Three years later, entirely new designs were issued replacing the controversial Educational series.

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