The first banknotes in Europe were issued in Sweden by the Stockholm Banco. The bank was set up in 1656 by a merchant, Johan Palmstruch. It produced its first notes a few years later, in 1661, as an alternative to the huge and inconvenient copper plate money which was then in circulation in Sweden.Though the designs of these early notes were simple, they were carefully printed on hand-made paper. They were given official authority by impressions of several seals, including the seal of the bank, and no less than eight handwritten signatures. Johan Palmstruch's own signature can be seen here at the top of the list on the left of the note.The Stockholm Banco was a private business, but it had close connections with the Swedish Crown and the Government. It was very successful at first, but then lent too much money and issued too many notes without proper backing. Palmstruch was blamed for the difficulties and imprisoned for mismanagement. He died in 1671, less than a year after being released from jail. Despite the failure of his bank, he is remembered now for introducing notes which were passed freely as money, just like the banknotes that we use today.