Featured Political Graffiti on Banknotes

Discussion in 'Paper Money' started by BRandM, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. BRandM

    BRandM Counterstamp Collector

    Political Banknote 1.jpg Political Banknote 2.jpg During the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland (1960s-1990s) a lot of these defaced banknotes circulated as did many Irish and English coins stamped with political slogans. These banknotes are rare as they were destroyed by the government when they came to light. Other than two others with handwritten slogans on them, these are the only ones I've ever seen. I bought one and was given the second by a trusted source living in Belfast. The larger note I acquired in September, 2012 and the smaller just a week or two ago.

    The slogan on the first reads "Fig(h)t Back / Join The RA / Marty TL 72" The "RA" is commonly used slang for IRA (Irish Republican Army) a Nationalist paramilitary. "TL" stands for Turf Lodge, a strongly Nationalist housing estate (project) built in the 1950s in West Belfast. I believe the number is "72"which may indicate the date 1972 or possibly something else. Apparently, "Marty" is the man who stamped the slogans.

    The second note, stamped "IRA /1916" is also a Nationalist issue and is a remembrance of the bloody 1916 revolt against English rule over Ireland. It occurred during Easter week and is known as the Easter Uprising or the Easter Rising.

    Although there's nothing pretty about these notes or the slogans, they're important pieces of history. If anyone else has any notes...any country...with political messages on them please post them. I'd be interested in seeing them.

    geekpryde, Jwt708, krispy and 3 others like this.
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  3. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD [Insert Clever Title]

    I think they are very interesting. A clever way of trying to get your rebellious propaganda out.
  4. BRandM

    BRandM Counterstamp Collector

    That was the purpose Camaro. The typical note probably didn't circulate for too long, but the counterstamped coins did, sometimes for quite awhile. As you can see, these two are still in decent shape, although the first one was torn at some point and taped. Someone probably was offended by the slogan and decided to destroy it, but thought better of it because of the monetary value. A pound was worth a lot more then than it is today.

  5. funkee

    funkee Tender, Legal

    Galen59 and Lanny like this.
  6. BRandM

    BRandM Counterstamp Collector

    Great link funkee. I knew there were WWII propaganda notes but never really saw any that I recall. Some interesting pieces, but along with the Troubles notes, NJ obsoletes and counterstamped coins I already collect, I don't have the funds to branch out any further. Thanks for the info.

  7. Lanny

    Lanny Mr. Nice Guy

  8. JBK

    JBK Coin Collector

    Great topic. I have a small pile of this sort of thing (none from the UK/Ireland, though) and am actively collecting it when I can find it (which is not often, for the reasons you noted). If I can get some good photos I will post a few.

    I was living in Germany when the change was made from marks to euros, and it was a tough time for consumers due to inflation caused by the changeover. The government insisted for a couple years that there was no such inflation, but they finally acknowledged that the introduction of the euro did cause some increase in prices especially at the retail level for consumer goods and everyday items (such as schnitzels and beer!).

    I had two rubber stamps made up to use on 5 euro notes. One said "ZEHN DEUTSCHE MARK" (ten DM) in the same font as on the old DM notes. I added it to the 5 euro notes in the same position it appeared on the old DM notes. (Five euro was roughly equivalent to 10 DM).

    I also had a stamp that said TEURO. The German word for expensive is “teurer” and TEURO was a combination of that word and “euro”. (I did not invent the term – it made its way onto the lexicon when the euro was introduced). On the 5 euro notes at the time, there was a large “5” followed by two stacked words (the word “euro” and also the Greek translation written in the Greek alphabet ), and I added TEURO to the list. If I got a good impression then it looked pretty authentic.

    These messages were a bit more subtle than the IRA notes but were meant as a political statement just the same. I am not sure if anyone noticed or was inspired by my 5 euro banknotes, but I had a lot of fun putting them into circulation.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  9. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector Supporter

    Another term which is important in that context is "perceived inflation". There have been several studies about this phenomenon - people only notice price hikes, and tend to ignore stable or lower prices. Sure, some restaurants did abuse the cash changeover. Guess what, once they found out that this had an effect on the number of customers, some thought again.

    And when prices for certain foods go up, it sometimes help to check what is going on in countries with different currencies. ;) But again that did not count for those who fought against the common currency. Hope you had some fun.

    BRandM likes this.
  10. BRandM

    BRandM Counterstamp Collector

    I like the concept Jeff, but never thought about doing anything like that myself. I've had a good time counterstamping coins with my personal stamps, but used them almost exclusively to trade with or give to other collectors. I suppose you could say they were my business card. I did put a handful of coins into circulation for no particular reason other than I thought I might someday get one in change. Never did of course. Anyway, I like your idea but think I'll stick to coins for now.

    As far as the political slogans on the UK notes go, I would like to pick up a few more if I ever have the chance. My one concern is the authenticity of such pieces. These are the only two examples I have, and were acquired from a trusted source in Belfast. I have no hesitation in believing that they're authentic. The only other two I've seen were handwritten slogans on pound notes, but the seller wasn't known to me so I passed. Absolutely no way to know if they were legitimate or not.

    BTW Jeff, anything going on with your "Boston" stamps? I'd love to get a copy.

  11. JBK

    JBK Coin Collector

    There is no doubt that the euro was a great thing for Europeans (and tourists, for that matter), but it came with a small cost. I did love the old DM but it was also hard to argue with the euro’s convenience.

    I am sure that “perceived inflation” is a real phenomenon, and we do see it here in the US all the time. For example, as has happened recently, when gas prices go up a few cents a gallon everyone notices and complains, but when they drop 5 cents a gallon it somehow gets overlooked. In any case, what I was referring to in Germany was very much real, at least for me. I was looking at the immediate impact of the euro on prices, and in no case did I ever see a price go down as a result of the conversion (with the exception of businesses that raised prices in the months prior to the euro so they could round down after the exchange and still be ahead of the game.) For example, the 6 DM cost of a doner kebap around the corner from my apartment translated to 3.07 euro, but when the changeover came it was priced at 3.50 euro. I felt similar “nickel and dime” hits to my wallet at every turn. At the time, I could easily live on 200 DM a week and have a little left over if I did not go crazy on the weekend. After the conversion, the same amount in euros – 100 euro – never lasted me the entire week. That was ultimately the evidence for me that the euro was costing me more for daily transactions.

    As I understood it, the insistence by the government that there was no euro inflation was based on their examination of a pre-determined basket of goods and services. It was heavily weighted with high-end items like a house, car, etc., which did not see any inflation with the introduction of the euro. They finally acknowledged that the impact on lower-end, everyday items was indeed greater.

    Of course, you may have had a different experience, and since I was in Munich it is very possible that the local businesses thought the residents had more money to spend and took advantage of the situation.
  12. JBK

    JBK Coin Collector

    That is for sure...

    Right now on eBay there is a WWII era European banknote (I forget which country) with a hand-drawn/written anti-Hitler message, but theer is no way to know if it was done 60 years ago or last week.

    As for stamping currency modern day, it can be fun but is not nearly so fulfilling as counterstamping coins. With the coins we can be sure that some examples will survive for many generations to come, but with banknotes it is entirely possible that the entire production will be shredded or burned within a few years.
  13. JBK

    JBK Coin Collector

    Well, there are (100) 2013 Native American dollars and (200) 2013 half dollars (100 P, 100 D) in existence. I had expected to focus on the half dollars and I planned to counterstamp 1000 of them. The dollar coins were going to be an unannounced variety. However, the Mint sold out of the 2013 half dollar bags and the premium on the rolls that are still available is way too high for coins that I intended to put into circulation. So, unless he Mint releases the 6 million 2013 half dollars it struck for the Federal Reserve before the Fed cancelled the order, it looks like the 2013 half dollar production will remain at 200.

    I also plan to do some 2014 half dollars – probably 200 – and put them into circulation in Boston around the time of this year’s Marathon as a tribute to the one year anniversary of the bombings.

    Having failed in my plan to counterstamp (1000) 2013 half dollars, I was looking for ways to leverage the stamp for a few other projects. I added it to about (45) 1918 Lincoln cents. There were three major events in Boston in 1918 – the Boston Police Strike, the influenza outbreak that cost more lives around the world than WWI, and the Red Sox victory in the 1918 World Series. I am not quite sure what this counterstamp issue commemorates – chaos, death, or baseball. I guess you can take your pick.

    I’ll be sure to set aside a set of these for you – no need to worry about that.
  14. BRandM

    BRandM Counterstamp Collector

    Thanks Jeff, I appreciate it.

  15. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector Supporter

    As I tried to point out, there were many factors. For example, as from June 2001 the Institut für angewandte Verbraucherforschung "observed" prices for 700 everyday goods. In several cases they found out that retailers had raised the prices before the Jan-2002 cash changeover, as they expected to be under scrutiny after the euro cash introduction.

    However, as you mentioned, many items that did not become more expensive or even had lower prices, such as household appliances or electronics, do not really influence the perceived or felt inflation: We don't buy them that often, and they are not standardized products. Our perception focuses on other items.

    Between early 2001 and late 2005 for example the inflation rate was at roughly 2 percent. The perceived inflation rate was roughly between 8 and 15 percent, depending on the parameters. (Source: Prof. Hans W. Brachinger, Université de Fribourg/Switzerland: Der Euro als Teuro? Die wahrgenommene Inflation in Deutschland). After 2005 that gap was slowly closed again. Today it is roughly as it was before 2000.

    In mid-2004 Prof. Stefan Schulz-Hardt, a "financial sociology" expert (Dresden Technical University), published a study with about 1,500 participants in Germany and 250 or so in Austria. These people had to read restaurant menus with prices in DM and later in €, then they were asked to estimate how the prices had changed. If the euro price was 15% higher than the mark price, people guessed an average 20% raise. If the prices were not changed (just converted and rounded), people believed that prices had gone up 10%. Stable prices were assumed only if the euro prices were about 15% less than the mark prices. :rolleyes:

    Errm, back to the topic ... Here are parts of two "first generation" €5 notes with stamps. One is from a tracking site (eurobt.net), so the poster hid the serial number. Both notes circulated in Spain, I suppose - one promotes Asturian as an official language, the other one is, well, obvious.



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  16. saltysam-1

    saltysam-1 Junior Member

    That is the bottom line. Reports don't mean much if your standard of living is negatively affected.
  17. BRandM

    BRandM Counterstamp Collector

    Thanks for the interesting discussion guys, as well as the two 5 Euro notes Christian. Are they part of your collection?

  18. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector Supporter

    I don't actually collect paper money, but of course there's things about them (or some of them) that I find interesting. :) The "Freedom for Catalonia" is one that a friend of mine came across; the other one is from Eurobilltracker (kinda like Wheresgeorge).

    The more obvious a message on a note is, the more likely it is to be taken out of circulation, from what I have read. So a tiny stamp for "technical" reasons, such as those little numbers in circles you sometimes see on notes, will probably not be affected. But a bigger stamp, be it political or commercial advertising, may not survive that long ...

  19. BRandM

    BRandM Counterstamp Collector

    That's the exact reason for the quick "departure" of the Troubles notes. Some were kept just out of curiousity while others were saved by note collectors. The government, for obvious reasons, didn't want them circulating so removed and destroyed examples that came to their attention. The same with the counterstamped coins, except there were many, many more circulating and thus harder to confiscate.

    chrisild likes this.
  20. JBK

    JBK Coin Collector

    Chrisild, etc. - thx for the posts. It is all a very interesting discussion. I fully expect that the "real" inflation caused by the euro is a far more subtle and diffcult thing to define, especially when pre-conversion tactics are factored in (perhaps some businesses needed to raise prices anyway, but did it in advance or waited, depending on their perspective). For me, it was a case of, as they say in politics, "perception is reality". If the doner kebap (a sort of sandwich) guy and the Irish pub owner had not raised their prices on the 1st day of the euro then I might well have had a different perspective. It is funny how small things can impact one's overall perception. Still a further complication is the emotional attachment that many people had for the legacy currencies.

    As for the two stamped euro notes - those are great examples. I was especially fascinated by the Catalonia message, or more specifically, the fact that it was written in English. I visited Barcelona and I had the impression that the Catalonians did not even particularly like speaking Spanish, so to have their message printed in English on the euro note is very interesting, but done I suppose so that it would get a wider audience.

    I do know that in Germany I saw few if any marked or heavily worn banknotes - they did not stay in circulation long there.
  21. chrisild

    chrisild Coin Collector Supporter

    Guess that the English slogan promoting Catalonia's independence makes sense because there are so many visitors and residents in Barcelona who understand English better than Catalan, hehe. And of course a note stamped this way get its message across more easily in other euro countries. :)

    And yes, the paper money that circulates in this area (Western Germany/Eastern Netherlands) is usually not that worn. Maybe the banks - und ultimately the "local" central banks - stop re-issuing notes in bad shape earlier than banks in, say, Italy. As far as I can tell, the old (first generation) €5 notes are actually taken out of circulation a little earlier than usual, now that the second generation is there. Which would also mean that the average "lifetime" is even shorter than the usual 1 to 2 years - and that would of course affect any messages on those notes too ...

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