New Doty Book on Obsolete Paper Money

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April 4, 2013 – Whitman Publishing announces the release of a new book by Dr. Richard Doty, senior curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection. “Pictures From a Distant Country: Seeing America Through Old Paper Money”, a 296-page hardcover with dustjacket, retails for $24.95 and will be available from bookstores and hobby shops nationwide in April 2013.

Richard Doty, Pictures From a Distant Country. Seeing America Through Old Paper Money, Whitman Publishing, Atlanta (GE), 2013. 296 p. full color. Hardcover. ISBN 0794832555. Price: $24.95.

 “For much of our nation’s history there was no federal currency in circulation,” Doty observes. “Instead, currency was issued by private banks and other businesses.” These pieces of private money, called obsolete bank notes, form the basis of his narrative. Doty interprets what their designs and images tell us about the United States of the 1800s – the “distant country” of the book’s title. Hundreds of detailed close-ups illustrate his engaging text, exploring how Americans viewed women, children, family, the workplace, the frontier, slavery, racial minorities, new technology, entertainment, and our national identity. “A finer view of life in America in the early 19th century could not be imagined,” says Q. David Bowers in the book’s foreword.

Doty’s ten main chapters are illustrated mostly with individual vignettes and enlarged bank-note engravings. In the back of the book, a 147-page appendix shows at full size the notes discussed in the text, cross-referenced to the narrative. A five-page index, organized by state, city, and bank, also links researchers to individual notes.

“My great love of this type of currency and my deep respect for its (largely) nameless engravers made this book possible,” said Doty. “If ever there were a case of standing on the shoulders of giants, this is it.”


  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Constructing a National Identity
  • Chapter 2: The People in the Way
  • Chapter 3: The People in the Middle
  • Chapter 4: Temptress, Saint, and Helpmeet: Woman’s Identity
  • Chapter 5: Childhood and Family
  • Chapter 6: Making a Living
  • Chapter 7: Whimsy
  • Chapter 8: “You Can Trust Me”: Images of Worth
  • Chapter 9: Progress
  • Chapter 10: An Age Now Ending
  • Epilogue: And Then What Happened?
  • Appendix: Full-Size Bank-Note Images
  • About the Author / Acknowledgments
  • Index to Bank-Note Issuers, by State

For more information please visit the Whitman’s website.