The Forged Treasury Notes
THREE MONTHS AFTER THE DECLARATION OF WAR England was threatened with a creeping paralysis which, in its possible effect upon morale, was more deadly than the air raids. Every Englishman had been reared upon a gold currency, and he was to have gold in his pockets no more. He had accepted the first Treasury note rather unwillingly, as one of the necessities of war, and was just becoming accustomed to it, when I learned from the Treasury that its notes were being forged. The Treasury note of those early days was a plain invitation to the forger. It was printed on paper little better than the best typewriting paper, with the facsimile signature of Sir John Bradbury (hence its early nickname, "Bradbury"), and there was nothing in the body of the paper to defeat the forger except the watermark: "ONE POUND." They brought me specimens to see and compare with genuine notes; the differences between them were so slight that most people would have accepted the counterfeit without question.
"It's a very serious matter," said the Treasury official. "The forgeries that have already come in exceed £10,000, and if public confidence in our notes becomes shaken, the country will be in the soup. Oh, yes; I admit that the note is easy to forge. We are now at work upon a new one, and we shall recall all these, but it takes time, and in the meantime the forger must be caught."