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Have you seen these people? You might come upon them wearing historic period garb. The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), founded in 1966, is, according to its website, “an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe.” The members like to recreate life in an earlier time, which means using the technology existing at that time and eschewing later technology (not all the time, just when they are in “anachronism mode”).
Mary Roebling (1904-94) was the first woman to serve as president of a major U.S. bank. (She was also the first woman governor of the American Stock Exchange, among numerous other honors.) According to a New York Times obituary, she came into her position through a combination of happenstance and preparation:
Correction: In the original version of this post, a quote from the Museum of American Finance website stated that the telegraph arrived in the 1950s. This actually took place in the 1850s. The museum has now revised its site to reflect the correct year and we have revised the relevant text in our post. We regret the error.
One could say that Sesame Street character Bert’s extreme interest in paper clips is misguided, but his obsession with pigeons? Maybe not so much. Pigeons have played a role in financial history, with one such role described by Tony Chen during his walking tour of the Hutong district in Beijing. When his group of tourists reaches the Qianshi hutong (see video), he gives an almost unbelievable account of pigeons, exchange rates, and bank robbers during the Ming dynasty, as reported in Time Out Beijing:
Within the New York Public Library Digital Collections is the Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views. Stereoscopic photographs were viewed with a stereoscopic viewer or stereoscope. According to the “About” tab of the NYPL page for the collection, “During the period between the 1850s and the 1910s, stereos were a mainstay of home entertainment, perhaps second only to reading as a personal leisure activity.” They also functioned as a way for people to travel vicariously, or as an aid to the study of history and other cultures. You know you’ve found an image meant to be seen with a stereoscopic viewer when it is double, with the images slightly askew from one another. The kinds of images that were particularly suitable as subjects for stereoscopic photography were those involving objects at varying distances from the viewer (for example, landscapes and cityscapes). (This is only one form of stereoscopy, which incorporates other technologies.)
U.S. savings bonds were created in 1935 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt to assist the United States in raising funds for a variety of government programs.
One popular marketing tool was to enlist popular culture to sell the bonds, with television proving to be a natural outlet. An example was a commercial featuring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz encouraging people to buy U.S. savings bonds for Christmas.
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and we’re not asking you questions or dispensing advice about it—that’s not (yet) our business. However, we can offer two attempts at humor regarding the Bank of England and amorous activity. The first touches upon a central bank’s fear for its reputation and the second its fear of being “manhandled” by the government.
Did’ya ever notice how silly those Historical Echoes posts can get? Andy Rooney passed in November 2011 (see the New York Timesobituary and the obituary from CBS), so he missed his chance to comment on the Liberty Street Economics blog (although here’s a guy pretending to be Mr. Rooney talking about blogs). But while he was alive he sure had a lot of funny and insightful things to say on a lot of topics, including bank names.
Metaphors, similes, analogies—we know they’re not the same thing, but they can do pretty much the same job when illustrating what monetary policy is like (or what anything is like). Here are a few such monetary policy comparisons from some notable economists and commentators. For some reason, they all seem to involve physics. More exist, of course.
Note that monetary policy encompasses a range of concerns, not just a single issue. Therefore, the metaphors and analogies illustrate different phenomena.
On June 24, 1968, thousands of people swarmed assay offices in the United States, anxious to unload their holdings of silver certificates. The U.S. Treasury had deemed this the final date on which the certificates could be exchanged for silver bullion. People camped out overnight to ensure that they would beat the deadline, and the resulting lines stretched for hours. Life Magazine covered the story, and offered a history of silver certificates in the United States.
From 1793 until 1861, when the U. S. Treasury Department was given exclusive rights to produce legal tender, thousands of different styles of bank notes were created by U.S. banks. The banks all based their currencies on standardized units, but in most every other way the notes differed wildly—colorful versus monochromatic, and graphics ranging from stock images to almost any concept one could imagine.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from economists working at the intersection of research and policy. The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Donald Morgan.
The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
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