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A Crime Like No Other: The Portugal Banknote Affair

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Then Reis forged the signatures of Bank of Portugal officials (he traced them from the currency in his pocket). He appended two new Portuguese banknotes—one for 1000 escudos and another for 500 escudos.

Reis’ key associates, Dutch trader Karel Marang, German trader Adolph Hennies, and José Bandeira (brother of António Bandeira, the Portuguese Ambassador to the Netherlands) later claimed to have believed the project was legitimate throughout.

Karel Marang approached Joh. Enschedé, an old and respected Dutch printing firm for the job. Reviewing the attached sample notes, they said they were the work of Waterlow and Sons of London. Waterlow was a major worldwide printer of currency, postage stamps, stocks and bond certificates. It had around 7,000 employees.

A promotional stamp produced in 1925 by Waterlow and Sons for the British Empire Exhibition
A promotional stamp produced in 1925 by Waterlow and Sons for the British Empire Exhibition
A dividend coupon printed by Waterlow and Sons
A dividend coupon printed by Waterlow and Sons (c. 1900)

On 4 December 1924, Karel Marang approached Sir William Waterlow with a letter of introduction from the Joh. Enschedé company. The two notes Alves Reis had appended to the contract were of the so-called “poet” series; they bore the faces of Luis de Camoes, Portugal’s great epic poet of the 16th century; and Joao de Deus Ramos, a 19th century romantic poet.

When Sir William saw the two banknotes he knew they had been made for the Bank of Portugal by his great London rival, Bradbury Wilkinson. Ordinarily he might have cut short the discussion with the foreigner by advising him to visit the nearby offices of the rival banknote printer. But why throw any more business their way? The two poet notes, he told Marang, had been done by “an American banknote firm.” Technically, he was correct: Bradbury was a subsidiary of the American Bank Note Company.

“A pity,” Sir William went on, “that you didn’t bring us a note that we have made for the Bank of Portugal—the Vasco da Gama 500 escudos note.” He had his secretary bring in a specimen book of banknotes which contained the 500 escudos note.

“This note would do very well,” said Marang.

500 Escudos with a portrait of Vasco da Gama
500 Escudos with a portrait of Vasco da Gama

The visitor stressed the importance of secrecy in the whole affair, particularly since the Banco Ultramarino normally was the only agency that could issue banknotes for the Portuguese colonies. Complicating matters, he went on, was the fact that two brothers, the Ulrichs, were serving as directors of the Bank of Portugal and the Ultramarino. For this reason only the governor of the Bank of Portugal and the deputy governor knew of this deal.


YouTube Videos
Images
Images
Joh. Enschedé [videos]
Royal Joh. Enschedé (Dutch: Koninklijke Joh. Enschedé) is a printer of security documents, stamps and banknotes based 
Joh. Enschedé - Logo on Johan Enschedé Hof
Joh. Enschedé - Title page of Enschedé gedenkschrift 1743-1893.
Title page of Enschedé gedenkschrift 1743-1893.
Joh. Enschedé - Image: Enschede men at work in Haarlem type foundry in 1892
Joh. Enschedé - Image: Steen Johan Enschede bij rechtbank Haarlem
Image: Enschede men at work in Haarlem type foundry in 1892
Image: Steen Johan Enschede bij rechtbank Haarlem
Waterlow and Sons [videos]
Waterlow and Sons Limited was a major worldwide engraver of currency, postage stamps, stocks and bond certificates 
Waterlow and Sons - A promotional stamp produced in 1925 by Waterlow for the British Empire Exhibition.
Waterlow and Sons - Image: Modderfontein B. Gold Mines Limited dividend coupon
A promotional stamp produced in 1925 by Waterlow for the British Empire Exhibition.
Image: Modderfontein B. Gold Mines Limited dividend coupon
Waterlow and Sons - Image: Bolivia 1c Waterlow specimen revenue stamps
Waterlow and Sons - Image: North Borneo 1911 Specimen Stamps
Image: Bolivia 1c Waterlow specimen revenue stamps
Image: North Borneo 1911 Specimen Stamps
British Empire Exhibition [videos]
The British Empire Exhibition was a colonial exhibition held at Wembley Park, Wembley, Middlesex in 1924 and 1925, 
British Empire Exhibition - Exhibition poster
British Empire Exhibition - British Empire Exhibition postage stamps
British Empire Exhibition - "London Defended" 1925 Official Programme
British Empire Exhibition - Image: Palace of Industry British Empire Exhibition 1924 1
"London Defended" 1925 Official Programme
Image: Palace of Industry British Empire Exhibition 1924 1
Luís de Camões [videos]
Luís Vaz de Camões (Portuguese pronunciation: [luˈiʒ ˈvaʒ dɨ kaˈmõjʃ]; sometimes rendered in English as Camoens or 
Luís de Camões - Portrait by Fernão Gomes, c. 1577
Luís de Camões - Monument to Luís de Camões, Lisbon
Portrait by Fernão Gomes, c. 1577
Monument to Luís de Camões, Lisbon
Luís de Camões - Camões' tomb in the Jerónimos Monastery, Belém, Lisbon
Luís de Camões - A statue commemorating de Camões in Havana, Cuba
Camões' tomb in the Jerónimos Monastery, Belém, Lisbon
A statue commemorating de Camões in Havana, Cuba
ABCorp (American Banknote Corporation) [videos]
ABCorp (American Banknote Corporation) is an American corporation and world leader providing secure payment, retail and 
ABCorp (American Banknote Corporation) - The American Bank Note Co. Ottawa, Ontario Canada 1897–11
ABCorp (American Banknote Corporation) - Printing plant in the South Bronx
The American Bank Note Co. Ottawa, Ontario Canada 1897–11
Printing plant in the South Bronx
ABCorp (American Banknote Corporation) - 100 pesos Banco Italiano del Uruguay (1887)
ABCorp (American Banknote Corporation) - American Bank Note Company, Share certificate (1944)
100 pesos Banco Italiano del Uruguay (1887)
American Bank Note Company, Share certificate (1944)
Vasco da Gama [videos]
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvaʃku ðɐ ˈɣɐmɐ]; c. 1460s – 24 December 1524), was 
Vasco da Gama - Image: Lisboa Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga Retrato dito de Vasco da Gama 20140917
Vasco da Gama - Statue of Vasco da Gama at his birthplace, Sines, Portugal
Image: Lisboa Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga Retrato dito de Vasco da Gama 20140917
Statue of Vasco da Gama at his birthplace, Sines, Portugal
Vasco da Gama - Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama - Vasco da Gama leaving the port of Lisbon, Portugal
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama leaving the port of Lisbon, Portugal
Banco Nacional Ultramarino [videos]
Banco Nacional Ultramarino (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈbɐ̃ku nɐsiuˈnaɫ uɫtɾɐmɐˈɾinu]; Chinese: 大西洋銀行; English: 
Banco Nacional Ultramarino - BNU logo
Banco Nacional Ultramarino - Bas-relief at Banco Nacional Ultramarino, Lisbon, of the coats-of-arms of the Portuguese Empire and various of its colonies
BNU logo
Bas-relief at Banco Nacional Ultramarino, Lisbon, of the coats-of-arms of the Portuguese Empire and various of its colonies
Banco Nacional Ultramarino - BNU Macau
Banco Nacional Ultramarino - BNU Tower in Macau
BNU Macau
BNU Tower in Macau
Coupon [videos]
In marketing, a coupon is a ticket or document that can be redeemed for a financial discount or rebate when purchasing 
Coupon - Food stuff ration coupons types I–V for direct laborers and workers in Vietnam, 1976–1986
Coupon - Food Coupons
Food stuff ration coupons types I–V for direct laborers and workers in Vietnam, 1976–1986
Food Coupons
Coupon - Image: 19th century Coca Cola coupon
Image: 19th century Coca Cola coupon
Bradbury Wilkinson and Company [videos]
Bradbury Wilkinson & Co were an English engraver and printer of banknotes, postage stamps and share certificates. — History... 
Bradbury Wilkinson and Company - 1906 Romanian stamp printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson
Bradbury Wilkinson and Company - Image: Seychelles 1968 1975 25 Rupee Note
1906 Romanian stamp printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson
Image: Seychelles 1968 1975 25 Rupee Note
Bradbury Wilkinson and Company - Image: Centenario de la Declaración de Independencia de México
Image: Centenario de la Declaración de Independencia de México
João de Deus [videos]
João de Deus Ramos (March 8, 1830 – January 11, 1896), better known as João de Deus, was one of the greatest Portuguese 
João de Deus - João de Deus Ramos (from O Ocidente, 1878).
João de Deus - Portrait by Félix Vallotton
João de Deus Ramos (from O Ocidente, 1878).
Portrait by Félix Vallotton