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Boggs: A Comedy of Values

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  172 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In this highly entertaining book, Lawrence Weschler chronicles the antics of J. S. G. Boggs, an artist whose consuming passion is money, or perhaps more precisely, value. Boggs draws money-paper notes in standard currencies from all over the world-and tries to spend his drawings. It is a practice that regularly lands him in trouble with treasury police around the globe and ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published November 15th 2000 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1999)
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Sep 19, 2010 Doug rated it it was amazing
Dovetails, serendipity...another book taken off the shelf in the interest of other interests, heh. Subject: the money artist JSG Boggs's trials (literally) and travails as he probes society's understanding of value and worth. Here's a key quote:

"In God we trust," he said. "Did you know that that phrase wasn't always part of our currency? They only started putting it on during the twenties and thirties as they withdrew the dollar's gold backing. It used to be that you could redeem a ten-dollar b
Fuzzy Gerdes
Jun 21, 2011 Fuzzy Gerdes rated it it was ok
J.S.G. Boggs* is an artist whose work has often revolved around money. His best known works are hand-drawn replicas of bills which he will try to exchange for goods valued below the face value of the bill and get change for his pains--the change from the bill, the receipt, and the goods then become the work that he will sell to a dealer or collector. Because his work sorta kinda involves forgery and/or counterfeiting, is work has occasionally gotten him governmental attention, both in the US and ...more
Aug 06, 2007 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A hilariously entertaining book, whose charm is nearly impossible to convey adequately. This partial description is taken from one of the editorial reviews on I include it here just to give an idea of what the book is about, and to encourage you to check it out for yourself:

James Stephen George Boggs is not a con artist, he's a talented artist who deftly renders his own currency and "spends" it. Struck by the value of money, and what paper notes represent, he draws U.S. dollar bills,
Jan 05, 2009 Emily rated it it was amazing
A lot of books about money have long hold lists at the library right now (go figure!), but somehow this isn't one of them. Maybe this title is a few years old, but the questions raised by Boggs's art (and Weschler's investigation of it) are definitely relevant to the financial situation today. The only passages that feel dated are some that deal with electronic transactions and/or credit cards. This book left me feeling enlightened (dude, money really is all in our heads!!!!!!!!), interested (es ...more
Mary Jo
This is a really quirky book about the relationship between art and money, about how our culture determines the monetary value of a work of art. I had never heard of Boggs, but you gotta love someone who draws bills (American and otherwise)with slight deviations from the real thing, and only on one side of the paper. He then attempts to, often successfully, "spend" them. He makes it clear to those he does tranactions with that these are drawings,rather than actual currency. Still, they often end ...more
Mar 23, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Great to read some Weschler again -- he always expands my mind.
Here we have the story of Boggs, an artist who draws pictures of currency and then values them identically to the bill he has drawn. So if he draws a $100 bill, he "sells" it for $100 and records the transaction.
Interesting meditations on the history and role of money with Weschler's expansiveness and light touch and an engaging, larger-than-life central character in Boggs.
Some of the "Is money even real?" questions seemed like they
Mar 20, 2009 Paul rated it really liked it
Weschler is an unusually sympathetic journalist whose work always delights. Here he profiles J. S. G. Boggs, an artist who uses his hand-drawn currency in place of 'real' money. The transactions themselves become performance art. It is a wonderful meditation on money as a belief system and our willful confusion surrounding the buying, selling, and collecting of money and art. A powerful corrective to all the business page blather about our current financial crisis.
Mar 02, 2008 Eunice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: free spirits bucking the system
Recommended to Eunice by: Cover-to-Cover Booksellers in San Francisco
Shelves: art
i love Lawrence Weschler. he has an eye and ear for details that allude the unobservant and conveys it with a sense of marvel and wonder that shows respect and understanding for his subjects. and his ability to make the connection between the capricious nature of the valuation of art and the currency note using the art of Boggs is brilliant. great starting point for discussions about how things are "valued".
Feb 24, 2013 Lea rated it really liked it
This book is very interesting, I enjoyed reading it. I had to read it for school, so maybe that was why at times it was difficult to get into and the writing style seemed a bit dry. The material itself is fascinating though.
Nov 02, 2009 ThienVinh rated it it was amazing
great book about how money's made up. it explores the relationship between money and art. really short + funny -- based on the life and work of boggs, a real-life artist who draws beautiful money and exchanges it for goods, beyond the actual face value of the forged bill.
David Bird
Apr 22, 2013 David Bird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weschler benefits from the brilliance of his subject, who is much more memorable than the author's own insights.
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Nov 25, 2007 Matthew rated it really liked it
I wrote a great review for this book but Goodreads lost it.
Caitlin rated it it was amazing
Jun 04, 2011
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Lawrence Weschler, a graduate of Cowell College of the University of California at Santa Cruz (1974), was for over twenty years (1981-2002) a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award (for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992) and was also a recipient of Lannan Lit ...more
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