1New York Times, April 5 1891 p. 10.
2NYT May 19 1891 p. 10; Murray Tiegh Bloom, Money of their Own (Port Clinton, OH 1982) p. 38, NYT May 17 1892
3New York Herald, April 2 1896 p. 3.
4Ninger told the Secret Service that it took him two to three weeks to make a note, working three hours a day. Murray Teigh Bloom, a journalist and numismatist who has made the most detailed study of Ninger's life, suggests that he made as many as five or six a month. See Bloom, Money of their Own p. 40. On Ninger's hero status see the New York Sun, Ap. 4 1896 p. 3
5Maurice L. Muhleman, Monetary Systems of the World (NY 1895) 19. The United States notes were the greenbacks issued during the Civil War. About $345 million worth of them remained by law in circulation. Gold and silver certificates were redeemable in those respective metals, but Treasury notes were a peculiar hybrid. Issued by the government to pay for silver bullion following the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, they were redeemable in gold. It is also clear that by 1896 demand deposits, or checking accounts, accounted for roughly 90% of business transactions.
6Richard Hofstadter, "Coin's Financial School and the Mind of `Coin' Harvey," in William H. Harvey, Coin's Financial School (1894: reprint ed. Cambridge, MA 1963) p. 12-13. The system's "openess," as has been relentlessly pointed out since, was extraordinarily hedged; in fact openess for whites came only at the expense of openess for women and African Americans.
7Though in law on a bimettalic standard, the nation had in fact been on a de facto gold standard after the change in the mint ratio in 1834.
8John Kenneth Galbraith, Money: Whence it Came, Where it Went (Boston, MA 1975) 88-89
9On the intensification of racism in the 1890s see Joel Williamson, A Rage for Order (NY 1986), esp. chapter IV; Robert Rydell, All the World's a Fair: (Chicago 1984); Alexander Saxton, The Rise and fall of the White Republic (NY 1990) The emphasis on race appears everywhere in this period, from Hofstadter's "Social Darwinism" to Theodore Roosevelt's confusion of natural and human history in The Winning of the West, (NY 1889-1896) to Thomas Dixon's bestsellers enshrining the Klan.
10Michael O'Malley, "Specie and Species: Race and the Money Question in the Nineteenth Century," forthcoming in American Historical Review, (Spring 1994).
11See Anne Fabian, Card Sharps, Dream Books and Bucket Shops: Gambling in Nineteenth Century America (Ithaca, NY 1990); Karen Halttunen Confidence Men and Painted Women, (New Haven, CN 1982); John Kasson, Rudeness and Civility: Manners in Nineteenth Century Urban America (NY 1990); Miles Orvell, The Real Thing: Imitation and Authenticity in American Culture (Chapel Hill, NC 1989), and Philip Fisher, "Democratic Social Space: Whitman, Melville and the Promise of American Transparency" in Fisher ed., The New American Studies Berkeley, CA 1991)
12Secret Service Division, United States Treasury Department, "Daily Reports of United States Secrets Service Agents," Report of William P. Hazen, April 1 1896, p. 3 (marked p. 1253 on microfilm reel). In National Archives, Washington National Records Center, Suitland, MD. Hereafter abbreviated as "SSD," with original page number first and microfilm frame number in parentheses following.
13SSD, report of Hazen, 5(1261)
14Ninger told the agents that he first took high quality bond paper, soaked it in a solution of weak coffee so it looked worn, then placed the wet blank sheet over a real note. He traced the general outlines with a sharp lead pencil, then went over the tracings with pen, ink and brush after the new bill had dried.
15SSD, Report of G. Raymond Bagg, 4-6(1276-1278); report of Hazen, 13(1285).
16SSD, Report of Hazen, 13-14(1285-1286)
17"Jim the Penman" was James Townsend Saward, a working barrister who also led a check forging ring in London in the 1850s. But "Jim the Penman" was also the title of "one of the greatest triumphs in the history of the New York stage," a society drama by Charles L. Young. Young's version of Saward's career imagined "Jim" as part of an international forgery ring, a man of outward respectability who forged letters to marry under false pretenses. The play ran in New York in 1886-87, and was running in Boston at the time of Ninger's arrest. Quote above from George C. D. O'Dell, Annals of the New York Stage v. 13 (NY 1942) 217. Thanks to Jay Cook for this reference. On Saward see George Dilnot ed., The Trial of Jim the Penman (London 1930); and Charles L. Young, Jim the Penman: a Romance of Modern Society (NY 1912).
18New York Herald, April 2 1896 p. 3; New York Press, April 2 1896 p. 1; New York Sun, April 5 1896 p. 3
19Elaine Abelson, When Ladies Go A-Thieving: Middle Class Shoplifters in the Victorian Department Store (NY 1989) p. 135
20Cesare Lombroso, L'Homme Criminel, (Paris 1895); Abelson, When Ladies go A-Thieving 136-138
21Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (NY 1981) 30-72;
22Ysabel Rennie, The Search for Criminal Man (Lexington, MA 1978) 74; Cynthia Eagle Russett, Sexual Science: the Victorian Construction of Womanhood (Cambridge, MA 1989) 74
23Arthur MacDonald, Criminology (NY1893) 41; and Abnormal Man (Washington, D.C. 1893) 94. Lombroso's introduction to MacDonald's Criminology (p. iv), notes that his work has taken deeper root in the U. S. than in Europe. See also Russett, Sexual Science 73-74.
24Charles E. Rosenberg, The Trial of the Assassin Guiteau: Psychiatry and Law in the Gilded Age (Chicago 1968) 224, points out that Guiteau's 1881 trial became a national test case for, among other things, the virtues of criminal anthropology.
25Though these were never without room for environmental factors. Rosenberg, Trial of the Assassin Guiteau 244-248
26Ninger was unique in many ways. Most counterfeiters worked in gangs, and used mechanical means. Even in cases where an obssessive "artist" took charge of the actual production--fairly common in instances of counterfeitng--he usually received financial backing from a ring, who were needed to pass the bills effectively. See Bloom, Money of their Own passim. For a modern example see Charles Black and Michael Horsnell, Counterfeiter (NY 1989).
27Rosenberg, Trial of the Assassin Guiteau p. 244; Abelson, Ladies Go A-Thieving 184-196. On the bestial black rapist stereotype see Williamson, Rage for Order pp. 82-89; Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, "The Mind that Burns in Each Body: Women, Rape and Racial Violence," in Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell and Sharon Thompson eds., Powers of Desire: the Politics of Sexuality (NY 1983) 337. Ida B. Wells also clearly saw lynching as a dual message, one aimed especially at black men and another aimed at cricumscribing white women's behavior. Wells, On Lynchings (1892; reprint ed. Salem, NH 1987). Manias might also be treatable, which would suggest not a biological but a social cause. But in the popular culture of the late nineteenth century as well as in much formal psychiatric literature they tended to be linked with biological essentialism--Abelson notes especially how often manias were connected to women's anatomy by men like S. Weir Mitchel and George Beard, while the only treatment ever apparently considered for the alleged tendency to rape was lynching or relentless oppression.
28Thomas Byrnes, chief of New York City Police Detective Bureau, first introduced forensic photography to America in the early 1880s, in his famous "rogues gallery." Byrnes had mixed feelings about the connection between appearance and criminality. A reporter asked "Is physiognomy any guide?" and Byrnes replied "a very poor one." But he also argued that popular opinions of criminals' appearancew were not all wrong, and that experienced men could see a propensity to crime, especially in "low" criminals. Thomas Byrnes, Professional Criminals of America (1886: reprint ed. NY 1969) 55. On the introduction of forensic detection in Europe and America see Jürgen Thorwald, The Century of the Detective (NY 1964), esp. pp. 90-103. Thorwald claims that as late as 1900 American law enforcement agencies relied on versions of Bertillon's sytem of identification, a painstaking filing method that demanded a number of measurements and classifications of facial and body size and shape.
29Secret Service Division, United States Treasury Department, Description and Information of Criminals v. 25, p. 544. Ninger's file did not include fingerprints. Francis Galton's pioneering work on fingerprinting did not appear in the United States until 1892, and apparently the Secret Service was slow to adopt the new techniques, which were not generally accepted in American courts until after 1910--although Mark Twain had anticipated their use in Life on the Mississippi and Puddin'head Wilson. See Thorwald, Century of the Detective 90-103. The Secret Service began keeping its descriptions of criminals between 1869 and 1874. See above and Walter S. Bowen and Harry Edward Neal, The United States Secret Service (Philadelphia, PA 1960) p. 147
30Fabian, Card Sharps, Dream Books and Bucket Shops; Halttunen Confidence Men and Painted Women; Kasson, Rudeness and Civility.
31John Higham, Strangers in the Land (New Brunswick, NJ 1955) chapter six; Gwendolyn Mink, Old Labor and New Immigrants in American Political Development, (Ithaca, NY 1986) chapter 4.
32New York Sun, Ap. 4 1896 p. 3. New York Herald Ap. 6 1898 p. 6
33In 1896 most people's first impulse was to pass the bad bill to someone else. The Secret Service agent's reports offer a fascinating account of how Ninger's bills moved around. See SSD, Report of Hazen, especially p. 11(1267)
34The ten dollar National Gold Bank Note note of 1871 made this relationship clear. Its reverse side depicted a pile of gold coins. See Chester Krause and Robert E. Lemke, Standard Catalogue of U. S. Paper Money, 9th edition (Iola, WI 1990) p. 17
35Alfred Frankenstein, After the Hunt: William Harnett and other American Still Life Painters, 1870-1900 (Berkeley, CA 1975) 117
36Frankenstien, After the Hunt ; Doreen Bolger, Marc Simpson, and John Wilmerding, William M. Harnett (NY 1992); and Wilmerding, Important Information Inside: the art of John F. Peto and the idea of still-life painting in Nineteenth-Century America, (Washington 1983). The Secret Service may have been right in this suspicion, since according to Bloom, Money of their Own p. 47-48, the Treasury's files held pen and ink notes which predated Ninger's 1882 arrival in America
37Anne Soukhanov et. al. eds., American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (NY 1992) 216; Hiram C. Whitely, Three Years with Counterfeiters, Smugglers, and Boodle Carriers, (Boston, 1870?) pp. IV-V.
38Harnett wrote "As a rule, new things do not paint well...I want my models to have the mellowing effect of age...the rich effects that age and usage gives." Quoted in David M. Lubin, "Permanent Objects in a Changing World," in Bolger et. al., William M. Harnett 49. As Lubin points out, Harnett's work hung in places associated with modern industrial culture--saloons, department stores, hotel lobbies and offices. It doesn't strain interpretation to suggest that the word "rich" in his description of the effect of age and usage calls attention to an alternative basis for value, one rooted in history and memory. On sentiment and value see Gillian Brown, Domestic Individualism: Imagining self in Nineteenth Century America (Berkeley, CA 1990) 39-62.
39For a similar interpretation see Bruce Chambers, Old Money: American Trompe L'Oeil Images of Currency (NY 1988) 67-77. Chambers offers the most comprehensive account of the money painters; see also Edward Nygren, "The Almighty Dollar: Money as a Theme in American Painting," in Winterthur Portfolio 23, (Summer/Autumn 1988) 129-150. Nygren notes the similarity between the painted "frame" with its portraits of the Presidents and similar iconography in lithographs by Currier and Ives, among others.
40Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (Cambridge, MA 1988) pp. 219-231
41John Ruskin, "The Political Economy of Art," (1857) in Unto this Last and Other Essays (London 1907) p. 14. Ruskin argued gracefully for a "higher" standard of evaluation than money or market forces, but in this he echoed the gold bug insistance on the intrinsic or essential value of certain standards of reference.
42New York World, April 2, 1896 p. 1.
43Chambers, Old Money p. 67
44Bruce Palmer, Man Over Money (Chapel Hill, NC 1980) 85; Lawrence Goodwyn, Democratic Promise (NY 1976) 14-15, passim.
45George H. Yeaman, "A Currency Primer," in Sound Currency v. 3 (Feb. 15 1896) pp4 and 5. A group of wealthy businessmen and economists, "The Sound Currency Committee of the Reform Club," published Sound Currency as an answer to popular arguments for silver and greenbacks. On its extraordinary reach and effectiveness see James Livingston, Origins of the Federal Reserve System: Money, Class and Corporate Capitalism (Ithaca, NY 1986) 98-100.
46Charles H. Swan Jr., Monetary Problems and Reforms (NY 1897) 12.
47Austin W. Wright, "Unwarranted Government Interference," in Sound Currency v. 3 (Sept. 15 1896) 4
48Even the most sophisticated arguments for gold tended to become fuzzy and strained when the issue of gold's value came up. Economists like Francis A. Walker could admit that value was an ideal thing, but also argue for the universal desirability and intrinsic superiority of gold. Edward Wisner's bimettalist Cash vs. Coin: An Answer to "Coin's Financial School" (Chicago 1895) often asserted that value originated in labor. But it began by stating "All money is a medium of exchange, but intrinsically valuable money, only, is a measure of values." What can such a statement possibly mean?
49On the peculiarity of gold bug arguments see also Walter Benn Michaels, The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism, (Berkeley, CA 1987), especially the title essay, which suggests that most gold bugs fantasized gold's final removal from circulation--it's value as money stabilized by its never actually being used as money.
50Mink, Old Labor and New Immigrants p. 97
51Mink Old Labor and New Immigrants 125-126; See also Alexander Saxton, The indispensable enemy; labor and the anti-Chinese movement in California (Berkeley, CA 1971); Higham, Strangers in the Land chapter 6.
52"Sound Currency Illustrated," in Sound Currency v. II (Oct. 1 1895) p. 429. Also in the same issue: on page 426 a cartoon depicting the silver forces as Indians attacking the forces of sound money, led by Grover Cleveland, and a picture of three workers labled "China," "Mexico" and "India," standing near a buzz saw: all have had their fingers cut off by the "free coinage" saw. These cartoons were distributed in a special volume of Sound Currency and were then made available, print ready, for reproduction in newspapers and other periodicals, for shipping costs only. See Livingston, Origins of the Federal Reserve p. 94.
53J. Howard Cowperthwait, Money, Silver and Finance (NY 1892)18; 22
54Yeaman, "A Currency Primer" 2; Edward Atkinson, "The Money of the Nation: Shall it be Good or Bad," in Sound Currrency v. 3 (July 1 1895) 2.
55William "Coin" Harvey, as Hoftstadter pointed out, shared the tendency of certain Populist extremists to link gold with the "Jewish race" and silver with real Americans. But where Hofstadter saw this as an anamoly, a product of an extreme "paranoid style," I see this tendency pervading American politics and culture. On the centrality of paranoid thinking to American politics see Michael Paul Rogin, Ronald Reagan, the Movie (Berkeley, CA 1987), chapters 1, 2 and 9.
56Frederick Perry Powers, "A Financial Catechism," in Sound Currency v. II (May 1895) p. 3.
57 Frederick W. Taylor, Principles of Scientific Management. (NY 1911) p. 43. From U.S. Congress, Special Committee to Investigate the Taylor and other Systems of Shop Manangement, (Washington, DC 1912) 1456: "For each man some line of work can be found in which he is first class. There is work for each type of man, just, for instance, as there is work for the dray horse and work for the trotting horse, and each of those types is first class for his particular kind of work." Taylor clearly moves here between and individualist and a racialist position, as in Principles of Scientific Management when he abuses "Shmidt"and calls him a worker of the type of an ox. That Taylor never resolved the issue I take as proving the point of the article--that a crisis in the nature of individualism existed in the 1890s, and that it appeared in political and cultural economy as a concern with the problem of essential character and value.
58An admittedly glaring comparison, since Ruskin so fervently opposed the "dehumanizing" qualitites of factory labor and mass production. But the link is especially clear in some of Taylor's followers, who began to appply the principles of scientific management to fieds other than manual labor--medicine, music, and art--hoping to ferret out essential skills and aptitudes in the quest for greater social efficiency. This interpretation, which owes a great deal to Walter Benn Michaels, "An American Tragedy, or The Promise of American Life," in Representations 25 (Winter 1989) 71-98 appears most clearly in the work of Frank and Lilllian Gilbreth, especially Applied Motion Study (1916: reprint ed. Easton, PA 1973) and Fatigue Study (NY 1919).
59New York Times, Ap. 5 1891 p. 10.
60New York Sun, April 3 1896 p. 6, April 4 p. 3
61Daniel T. Ames, Ames on Forgery, (Boston 1901) p. 29; New York Sun, April 4 p. 3
62New York Sun, April 5 1896 p. 3
63Daniel T. Ames, Ames' Guide to Self Instruction in Practical and Artistic Penmanship (NY 1881) p. 4, 9. See also A. R Dunton, B. Harrison, J. W. C. Gilman, John D. Williams, and S. S. Packard, Manual of Free-Hand Penmanship (Boston 1877);
64Herald Ap. 6 1986 p. 6. For a similar account of the relation between penmanship, realism and individuality see Michael Fried, Realism, Writing and Disfiguration (Chicago 1987). For a fascinating discussion of the historical confusion between writing, drawing and value in paper money see Marc Shell, Money, Language and Thought (Berkeley, CA 1982)
65Ames, Ames on Forgery pp. 9; 10.
66United States vs. Emanuel Ninger, U. S. Circuit Court, Criminal Docket vol. C (Mar. 1895-Feb. 1904) 2121, in National Archives--Northeast Region, Bayonne, New Jersey. Bloom, Money of their Own p. 55, claims that Ninger counterfeited two British pound notes sometime before he died in 1924, passing them successfully in Philadelphia, but that his wife enjoined him to stop.