Whitman Publishing announces the release of a new book by Dr. Richard Doty, senior curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection. Pictures From a Distant Country: Seeing America Through Old Paper Money, a 296-page hardcover with dust jacket, retails for $24.95 and will be available from bookstores and hobby shops nationwide in April. It can also be ordered from online book sellers, including at www.whitman.com.
“For much of our nation’s history there was no federal currency in circulation,” Doty observes. “Instead, currency was issued by private banks and other businesses.”
These pieces of private money, called obsolete bank notes, form the basis of his narrative. Doty interprets what their designs and images tell us about the United States of the 1800s – the “distant country” of the book’s title. Hundreds of detailed close-ups explore how Americans viewed women, children, family, the workplace, the frontier, slavery, racial minorities, new technology, entertainment, and our national identity.
Doty’s 10 main chapters are illustrated mostly with individual vignettes and enlarged bank note engravings.
“My great love of this type of currency and my deep respect for its (largely) nameless engravers made this book possible,” said Doty. “If ever there were a case of standing on the shoulders of giants, this is it.”