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Is paying with hand-drawn banknotes artistry or forgery? The knotty case of J S G Boggs

In the 1980s, the American artist J S G Boggs (1955-2017), who was then living in London, began drawing his own banknotes and attempting to pay with them. If that sounds more like forgery than artistry, it’s worth mentioning that his drawings, while skilful, were obviously not the real thing, and nor did he try to pass them off as such. Instead, Boggs’s project to blur the boundary between art, money and functionality meant that, if his hand-drawn banknote was accepted, he would later attempt to track it down, buy it back, and display it alongside his change and receipt. In this entertaining account of Boggs’s audacious art experiment, Tom Hockenhull, curator of medals and modern money at the British Museum, details how the work ran afoul of the Bank of England, Scotland Yard and even the British Museum itself, before Boggs forever altered the look of English banknotes.

Video by the British Museum

2 June 2022

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