George Cruikshank, Bank Restriction Note, a satirical note


British Museum

British Museum

In Britain the act of forgery, or sometimes even just the use of a forged banknote, was punishable by death until 1832. In the early nineteenth century the number of death sentences rose, as the forced circulation of notes for one and two pounds increased the temptation to forgery.The British Government and the Bank of England were both heavily criticised for the harsh application of the law and for the issue of notes which were easily counterfeited. One of the most eloquent and unusual protests was this 'banknote' designed by the satirical cartoonist George Cruikshank (1792-1878). Standard features of the Bank of England's notes are replaced by gruesome ornaments such as skulls, a hangman's noose, ships for transportation (a common punishment for those found in possession of a forged note) and a terrible Britannia gobbling infants. Cruikshank claimed to have sketched the note in ten minutes after seeing a woman hanged for passing a forged note.The note is signed J. Ketch. This was a byword for the hangman. The original Jack Ketch was a seventeenth-century executioner who had a notoriously bad aim with his axe.

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  • Title: George Cruikshank, Bank Restriction Note, a satirical note
  • Date Created: 1819/1819
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 130.00mm; Width: 205.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: satire; allegory/personification; punishment
  • Registration number: 1984,0605.11958
  • Production place: Published in London
  • Producer: Print made by Cruikshank, George. Published by Hone, William
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Barrett, W L S


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