Most people would claim they pay attention to money but it’s mostly in the abstract sense not the physical. What I mean is, how much attention do you really pay to the items we call money? I mean other than to see if you have any in your pocket, wallet or purse?
Attempting to deter people who would literally make their own money, governments have created works of art on coin and paper using old-world craftsmanship and new age technologies. Take a bill out of your pocket and truly look at it if you don’t believe me. Look at all the scroll work, the detail on the faces, the sculpturing of the letters and numbers. On top of that, at least in other countries, there is a myriad of colors used to enhance features or compliment designs.
Yes the actual manufacturing of our money is a pretty simple affair of striking blank coins or paper with engraved dies or ink. But the effort leading up to that is almost pure art as the craftsmen use their tools to render a flat surface with the illusion of three dimensions.
With credit cards being the medium of exchange for transactions of all sizes, online purchases being all about moving electrons swiftly and securely, and mobile devices becoming proxies for our wallets and purses, we may be losing our appreciation for the fine art carried around with us. And the skills of the people capable of producing it for our benefit.
More information on the actual making of currency can be found here while international examples of currency as an art form are here. For more reading about currency as art check out David Standish’s book.