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Academic Seminars


Lemons and Diddles:
The Culture of Early Republic Paper Money


Joshua R. Greenberg

(Associate Professor of History, Bridgewater State University)

Thursday, February 24, 2011, at 5:00 p.m.
Elmarion Room, Goddard-Daniels House
190 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts

PRÉCIS: The proliferation of unregulated banks in the early republic fashioned more than the skeleton of a financial infrastructure, it saturated the nation with more than 5,000 unique legal bank notes, the connective tissue of the urban market revolution. To best explain how paper money circulated from person to person in this chaotic system, my paper utilizes George Akerlof's "The Market for 'Lemons'," which probes how dishonesty affects used car sales. I balance this economic model with a close reading of Edgar Allen Poe's "Raising the Wind; Or, Diddling Considered As One Of The Exact Sciences," which meditates on the intimacy of economic dishonesty.

NOTE: The paper for this seminar will be precirculated, and is available for download after you register online. Please read the paper in advance.


Refreshments will be provided after the paper, which will be followed by a dutch-treat dinner in Worcester. If you plan to attend, please register by Monday, February 21. After you complete the online registration the paper will be available to download.

For more information, please contact Paul Erickson, Director of Academic Programs, at perickson[at]

The Society regrets that it is unable to make refunds after that date.

Reservations are suggested (and deeply appreciated) for attending the seminar. Reservations are required to attend the supper.