Cash Moves Everything Around Me

Here's a selection of bank notes, part of the Wells Fargo Bank corporate archive that I photographed for the book, Time Well Kept. 

Of course, it's presidents on the bills now, but back then it was any old Treasury Secretary they could find.

Old Ben Franklin on this one (and his drinking buddy, I guess). I always pictured this scene being far less pastoral, you know, driving rain and lightning flashes and Ben's pince-nez threatening to fly away in the wind. On the right, that lady is Electricity, and I'm not really sure what she's doing with America there - is she rescuing or wrestling?

The main picture here is De Soto Discovering the Mississippi by William Henry Powell. I was pretty disturbed by the apparent baby crucifixion happening in the right corner, but in the color version, it's clear that's a decorative crucifix. Whew.

For you conspiracy buffs out there, the inscription is an abbreviation for the phrase Thesauri Americae Septentrionalis Sigillum, which translates to "The Seal of the Treasury of North America". North America!

They went nuts with the typography on this one. I love the font for the words "United States", and the fact that it actually says "Wells Fargo". Finally, those are actual signatures, of the bank president and the bank cashier, on the note.