III. Why does this site make sense on
"The History of U.S. Paper Money" using the National
Numismatic Collection is particularly suited to the web for several
reasons. These include:
- Paper money is not suited to extended display in exhibits for
reasons of conservation and security - the web offers the ability
to display fragile and valuable objects without risk of deterioration
- The web offers low-cost access to a much larger audience than
otherwise available through print media or physical exhibits.
This potential of the web dovetails nicely with the Smithsonian-wide
goal of increased access to collections.
- The web offers the ability to include much more information
than possible with traditional media. This is particularly useful
in museum settings because it provides increased incentives for
fully documenting objects - thus making them more accessible to
the public and, coincidentally, increasing the curatorial control
over the objects and their usefulness to researchers.
IV. Reviews of similar sites/projects.
The following sites are similar in either their subject matter
or in the intended scope and structure of the site. The "'Parthia.com"
is the site I would like most to emulate in scope due to its success
as a resource to which anyone searching for information about Parthian
history and numismatics on the web will necessarily be drawn. The
site's open-ended structure lends itself to expansion, another characteristic
that will be useful in the "History of U.S. Paper Money"
Other sites reviewed are "Beyond
Face Value," "Ron's
Currency, Stocks & Bonds," and the Federal Reserve
Bank of San Francisco's "1995
Annual Report: A Brief History of Our Nation's Paper Money."
All of these present a part of the history of U.S. Paper money,
but all are limited in their coverage - this site is intended to
provide a more comprehensive presentation. The subheading link pages
for the Currency
Collection section of "Ron's Currency, Stocks &
Bonds" will provide a model for the Catalog
section of this site.
Created and maintained by Edward C. D. Hopkins
Last updated on November 11, 2002
Reviewed Oct. 5, 2002
This site is by far the largest of the sites reviewed in this essay.
It is also essentially a labor of love produced by by Edward C.
D. Hopkins, a retired Air Force Colonel, on an ongoing basis since
1998. This is a site that was designed from the beginning as an
open-ended project that would be continuously added to as time and
opportunity arose. It is the most complex
of the reviewed sites in terms of its function - it includes a large
database, has aspects of a gateway
in its large selection of links to related sites, it is presented
as a web essay on the history of Parthia as illustrated through
its coinage, and functions as the focus for a virtual community
for those interested in Persian history and Numismatics (directly
via its Feedback
page and indirectly through the Parthia-L
The scholarship on this site is excellent and has been reviewed
and extended by the contributions of many experts in the fields
of Persian history, archaeology, art history, and numismatics. The
coins are organized by ruler and by the Sellwood type ("Sellwood"
refers to David Sellwood's book "The Coinage of Parthia,"
which is the standard reference for the series.) within each ruler
heading. Each of the ruler
pages includes a short biography of the ruler and a listing
of known coin types from each. This data forms the basis for much
of the rest of the site and forms the nexus for an intricate web
of links from multiple pages. Hopkins continues to update his pages
with new developments in archaeology and new coin images as they
become available. He continues to receive, answer and post commentaries
making this a still dynamic site over four years after it was first
posted, an impressive achievement for an unsupported individual.
An interesting feature of the site is the Tech
Info link that leads to a page that discusses technical
issues associated with posting pages on the web - examples include
discussions of font compatibility, resolution and color settings
for optimal viewing of the site, automated translation, etc. - a
great place to learn more about potential pitfalls in web page design.
Parthia.com makes excellent use of the encyclopedic capabilities
of the web in pulling together a huge database of information. Despite
the huge amount of information, the site is well organized and documented,
including a search
engine and a site
map aside from the well organized navigational
links. A complete reading of the site would take days, if not
weeks, to accomplish. There are over 800 coins illustrated on this
site with mostly excellent images
designed to give examples of each type and variation of Parthian
coin known, making this invaluable to the collector.
Produced and maintained by the United States Civil War Center and
made possible by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
This site is a web exhibit focused on the images of slavery that
appeared on Southern states currency before, during, and after the
Civil War. The authors aim to display the images and encourage visitors
to ponder the questions of why images of slavery appear on Confederate
and Southern States paper money and what these images say about
the authorities that produced the money. The writers of the exhibit
approach the subject from a sociological viewpoint, interpreting
the images and denominations that appear on the notes as windows
into the psyche of the bankers, political leaders, towns, merchants
and corporations that issued paper money before and during the Civil
War. The intended audience is scholars and students of the American
exhibit begins by placing money in context
as culturally produced objects reflecting the identity of a people.
Money is identified as a powerful communication tool capable of
reaching larger audiences than any other available means.
The central core of the exhibit is the catalog
of currency and related documents. The site claims over 100 objects,
though I could confirm only 75, each of which has been scanned and,
in most cases, two images have been created - the whole notes as
well as close-up scans of selected vignettes within the notes. One-line
identifier labels accompany the images. The images are highlighted
in two out of the available seven sections within the site: the
and the Images.
Two sections are general essays giving an overview
of the Civil War and a sketch
of the economic environment of the period from 1830 to 1863. The
last three sections consist of information about the creators
of the exhibit, a bibliography,
and an informational section about
the exhibit and an electronic user-survey. The content of these
sections is solid, consisting of short essays by the authors accompanied
by links to off-site web pages with relevant information in further
depth. Interestingly, the 'Collection' section consists largely
of quotes from other reference works rather than any original work
by the authors.
The fact that only two of the sections of this exhibit actually
deal with paper money highlights a major problem with this site
- the authors do not seem to know how to use the notes at their
disposal to illustrate history. The discussions of the notes are
limited to descriptions of what is depicted on them with no attempt
to analyze them for what they could say about larger issues of social
and cultural attitudes, artistic conventions, or possible regional
variations in slave imagery, to name a few possibilities. The only
attempt to connect the notes to the social and cultural background
of the Civil War is reached through a link off of the introductory
paragraph of 'The Images' section. This is surprising as this essay
is well written and speaks directly to the thrust of the exhibit,
and yet is easy to miss among the choices presented to the visitor.
The site is also weak in its goal of creating an educational resource
- this consists of a word list at the bottom of the Overview
Essay and a set of three questions to consider while studying
the exhibit that are buried in the About
the Exhibit section.
The navigation and design of the exhibit is straightforward. However,
the form of the exhibit tends to dilute the exhibit's stated message.
It is difficult to figure out where to start - the eye is naturally
drawn to the center of the opening
page, which makes a certain amount of sense since this is where
the Images section is located - but this section does not state
the goals of the exhibit. Instead the closest approach to an introduction
appears in the 'About the Exhibit/Survey' section at the bottom
of the introductory page. Overall, this site does not make good
use of new media - it fails to even make effective use of the possibilities
inherent in enlarging the small images used on bank notes The bank
notes are shown at approximately life-size, while the vignettes
are shown in badly scanned enlargements.
For purposes of this proposal, the I would like to emphasize the
basic message of this exhibit; that paper money has more to say
than just its printed face value. This message will be emphasized
in the introduction to "The History of U.S. Paper Money"
as well as in the presentations included in the exhibits section
of the site.
Currency, Stocks & Bonds
Created and maintained by Ron Pfeister since 1996.
No current update information - the site does have a 2001 copyright
This site is a comrehensive website about paper money from a U.S.
Paper money collector's viewpoint. Ron Pfeister describes himself
as a collector who also buys and sell paper money, and his site
is designed to answer typical collector questions and provide a
knowledge of the ways in which collectors view and collect currency.
It contains relatively little history
and a lot of information regarding the types of U.S. Paper money
produced by the Federal government (he does not cover Obsolete or
Colonial currency.) as well as their value and rarity. The history
section is more of a timeline listing major events in the history
of American paper money with no attempt to put them in the context
of American history as a whole. The Currency
Collection and Stock
& Bond Collection portions of the site are neatly organized
to present a maximum of standardized information in a small amount
of space. The navigation for this site is straightforward, though
sometimes confusing due to certain sections (compare the two sections
above or the alternative home
page) having a completely different look - apparently they are
under construction and represent an experimental new look for the
site (including new Web
Site Credits and Who
am I pages not originally present on the website.).
"The History of U.S. Paper Money" site will incorporate
the good features of this site - especially its organization of
for the Currency Collection, which will be used in a slightly modified
form for the "Catalog" section. Other elements will appear
as well, such as a FAQ section within the "Collector's Corner."
The major difference between the sites will be that "History
of U.S. Paper Money" site will emphasize the history of
paper money and will greatly expand on the section provided in Mr.
Annual Report: A Brief History of Our Nation's Paper Money
Created and maintained by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
This presentation was written by Karen Flamme in 1995 and placed
the web in July, 2002.
Site reviewed November 29, 2002.
This site represents an effort by the Federal Reserve Bank of San
Francisco to reach out to a wider audience with information about
the history a subject inextricably linked to but not central to
their mission. The web page as a whole consists of an overview of
the history of U.S. Paper money divided into sections corresponding
to the major reforms of the currency system, with the addition of
a discussion of the future of money, the new look of U.S. Paper
(as of 1995) and a FAQ section. It is designed to function as an
on-line adjunct to an (currently closed) exhibit located in the
lobby of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank.
This site uses the format that will be used for the Categories
section of the History of U.S. Paper Money. Beyond that the history
presented is reasonably accurate, but sketchy on the reasons for
changes that occured in U.S. currency and skips or misinterprets
many parts of the history of paper money (most egregious is the
impression left that only the First and Second Banks of the United
States issued paper money during their charter periods - the "Free
Banking" period actually extended from 1791 until the last
State chartered banks stopped issuing notes in 1866). This presentation
offers little to guide the proposed site other than a clean and
straight-forward method of presentation.
V. Technical plan:
This site will use Dreamweaver 4.0 and Photoshop 6.5 to produce
its images and web pages. Initially the site will use only flat
html pages, though it is planned to use Access in conjunction with
the Museum of American History's Multi-Mimsy database to create
pages for the catalog section once the data and image files for
the U.S. Paper money become available. Images will be acquired using
both traditional and digital photography using the NNC collections
(thus avoiding issues of copyright).
The "History of U.S. Paper Money" site will use basic
part because more sophisticated tools will probably not enhance
this project - they will increase the time and effort necessary
to complete it. As mentioned above, I see the Parthia.com site as
a model for this site, particularly in the way the site creates
a focus for all things Parthian. I conducted an e-mail interview
with Mr. Hopkins, creator of Parthia.com, in order to determine
the difficulties that he encountered in creating his site. Based
forms, as well as a search engine once the NMAH database becomes
VI. The home page for this site is