LIBERTY BELL MADE OF MACERATED GREENBACKS

$195.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1202-144

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This is a miniature Liberty Bell with a label having some minor losses on the edges but clearly reading: “Made of U.S. National Greenbacks / redeemed and macerated at the U.S. / Estimated $1,000. Made / at Washington, D.C.”

Souvenirs molded from macerated U.S. currency were popular among tourists in Washington, D.C., from about 1875 into the 1920s. Instead of burning old currency taken out of circulation, which still left some fragments floating around that might be found and redeemed, the government switched to maceration in 1874, which ground it while wet into pulp. The prospect of seeing many  thousands of dollars destroyed was a novelty and the resulting pulp itself, containing small bits of paper and traces of ink, became the medium for molded souvenirs for sale to tourists of the Capital, with several producers creating portrait busts of notables, patriotic Lincoln or Uncle Sam top hats, miniature buildings like the Washington Monument, but also a wide variety of knickknacks like small animals, shoes, etc. They remained for sale in souvenir shops well into the 1920s, but lost a lot of appeal after 1908 when the government added chemicals to the pulp, destroying the bits of color, though a few entrepreneurs then added their own bits of paper.

This is a good example of the genre and has an applied US flag in color. The flag appears to have 48 stars, which would date it 1912 or later and this is lighter in color than other examples, which would fit with a post-1908 date of manufacture.     [sr][ph:m]

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