Paper Money

Sketch by note artist, muralist Blashfield in auction

The muralist Edwin H. Blashfield is known among paper money collectors for creating Science Presenting Steam and Electricity to Industry and Commerce, the vignette on the face of the Series 1896 $2 silver certificate. The vignette for this note in the “Educational Note” series was engraved by Charles Schlecht and G.F.C. Smilie, while Thomas F. Morris engraved the rest of the face and the back with its portraits of Robert Fulton and Samuel Morse. 

Blashfield was one of four noted late 19th century artists charged by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing with the task of enhancing the artistry on U.S. currency. The other three were Will H. Low, C.S. Reinhart and Walter Shirlaw.

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Just as Augustus Saint-Gaudens was much more than a coin designer, Blashfield’s art went beyond paper money design. His charcoal on paper Study of a Head for a Mural Panel offered by Heritage Auctions in its June 24 to 27 fine art sale, though, bears a remarkable stylistic similarity to his work on paper currency, despite its different purpose.

Blashfield was also on the commission regarding redesign of coinage in 1916 and, according to Heritage, was instrumental in pushing for Hermon A. MacNeil’s Standing Liberty quarter dollar design.

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