HC Deb 20 February 1821 vol 4 cc803-4
Mr. Curwen

rose to put a question to the hon. member for Bodmin upon a subject of great public importance. His question related to the steps now taken by the commissioners who were appointed to inquire into the best means of preventing the forgery of Bank notes. It was within the last few days rumoured that Mr. Applegarth's plan of a Bank note which was to render imitation almost impossible, had entirely failed: he hoped, on every ground of policy and humanity that this rumour was not correct. At all events, be hoped that the commissioners would not, on account of one discouraging circumstance, drop their proceeedings. He knew that it was impossible to get any plan which could be pronounced inimitable; but they might obtain a plan which would render forgery so extremely expensive and difficult, as to make that pursuit impossible for those who pursue it. He wished to know, whether the commissioners had any plan in a state of maturity; because if they had not, he must move for the appointment of a committee to ascertain the cause of the delay.

Mr. D. Gilbert

replied, that the Bank had taken the utmost pains to give effect to the exertions of the commissioners. The plan of Mr. Applegarth, did not consist of any superior improvement in the art of engraving, but in hardening a steel plate in such a manner, by a chymical process, as to give it that durability which would admit of any number of impressions being struck from it. But it was obvious that the perfection of the plate alone did not complete the process. The commission had to proceed upon a consideration of the greatest difficulty; namely, to consider whether it was possible to make, by human art, a plan which human art could not imitate. In the pursuit of their project they had corresponded with all quarters of Europe and America. They had availed themselves of all the means of obtaining information which they could possibly command, and had selected what appeared to them the best. Some which at first appeared inimitable were in the course of the inquiry, found capable of imitation; so that the commissioners had had repeatedly to change and vary their plans according to fresh circumstances.