Forgery in the Early 19thC

In Jilting the Duke, the villain Charters hides forged bank notes in Lady Wilmot's possessions, then calls the magistrates to search her property.

The situation was a serious one: having forged notes in one’s possession was as much of a crime as forging them. The crime was called 'uttering' forged notes, and the penalty was either execution or transportation.

Whereas for us, 'to utter' means to speak or to put into expression, an older--and contemporaneous in the early 19thC-- meaning was 'to put goods on the market' or to 'put into circulation.'

Between the 1790s and the 1820s, the numbers of forged bank notes rose dramatically. By 1802, the Bank hired an additional 70 clerks… just to detect forgeries. On average, thirty or more people were executed each year for forging or holding forged notes.

There really was a Parliamentary committee charged with developing ways to make bank notes more difficult to forge, and their proposed solutions included special paper, special inks, more elaborate designs on the notes, special printing techniques—all things we are familiar with today.

If you want to know more about the bank crisis in the early 19thC, write me a note. I love to hear from readers!
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Published on February 09, 2016 13:16
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