Read Boggs: A Comedy of Values by Lawrence Weschler Online


In this highly entertaining book, Lawrence Weschler chronicles the antics of J. S. G. Boggs, an artist whose consuming passion is money, or perhaps more precisely, value. Boggs draws money-paper notes in standard currencies from all over the world-and tries to spend his drawings. It is a practice that regularly lands him in trouble with treasury police around the globe andIn this highly entertaining book, Lawrence Weschler chronicles the antics of J. S. G. Boggs, an artist whose consuming passion is money, or perhaps more precisely, value. Boggs draws money-paper notes in standard currencies from all over the world-and tries to spend his drawings. It is a practice that regularly lands him in trouble with treasury police around the globe and provokes fundamental questions regarding the value of art and the value of money....

Title : Boggs: A Comedy of Values
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780226893969
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Boggs: A Comedy of Values Reviews

  • Doug
    2018-10-19 12:45

    Dovetails, serendipity...another book taken off the shelf in the interest of other interests, heh. Subject: the money artist JSG Boggs's trials (literally) and travails as he probes society's understanding of value and worth. Here's a key quote: "In God we trust," he said. "Did you know that that phrase wasn't always part of our currency? They only started putting it on during the twenties and thirties as they withdrew the dollar's gold backing. It used to be that you could redeem a ten-dollar bill for ten dollars in gold [...] On the back of the five-dollar silver certificate, put out in 1886, there was a picture of five silver dollars. If you wanted to know what a five dollar bill represented in those days, all you had to do was look at the picture on the back. But anyway, when they started withdrawing the dollar's metal backing [...] that's when they started putting that phrase on the currency. When you could no longer trust in gold, they invited you to trust in God. It was like a Freudian slip."

  • Philip
    2018-11-13 18:40

    In general a very interesting book, but with a few too many stretches that focus on the history of money/banking, or "what is art?" digressions. But otherwise, a very readable story of Boggs' unique, personality, art and unavoidable legal problems.J.S.G. Boggs made really nice drawings of banknotes - all drawn by hand but insanely detailed enough to pass for the real thing, (except for the intentional errors or changes he makes in the bills). From this "fine art" stage he then moved on to "performance art," where he actually tried to spend these drawings at their face value - not trying to pass them off as money, but explaining that these are drawings worth at least as much money as the bills they represent...too long and complex a process to describe here, but interesting in itself and one that does raise questions on money/art/value/etc. However, this process also brought him to the attention of both the U.S. and British governments, and he eventually went on trial in 1988 for, basically, forgery (although it's called something else in England). Won't spoil the result of his trial, but the last two (short) sections of the book then pick up again in 1993 and 1998, where it ends. Sadly, when I looked up Boggs on Wiki to see what he's been up to since then, I found that he just passed away this past January at age 62 - although I could find nothing on his cause of death, or anything at all since his various death announcements; odd.PERSONAL NOTE: I was originally interested in this story because my grandfather was also a "money artist," working for the American Bank Note Company as an engraver from the 1920's-1940's, (the ABNC did not make American money, but sold it's gorgeous notes to the rest of the world - I will include a few samples as "more photos" to this page). As a result, I began collecting ABNC's Asian banknotes when I moved to Taiwan in 1978, and they are some of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.WRITING NOTE: Weschler has, for me, a fairly dry style; but he does include a few of the correctly if ridiculously over-comma'ed sentences of which I am so fond, my favorite being: "End of that case, bows all around, and, a bit later, bows all around, resumption of ours."

  • Fuzzy Gerdes
    2018-10-30 13:30

    J.S.G. Boggs* is an artist whose work has often revolved around money. His best known works are hand-drawn replicas of bills which he will try to exchange for goods valued below the face value of the bill and get change for his pains--the change from the bill, the receipt, and the goods then become the work that he will sell to a dealer or collector. Because his work sorta kinda involves forgery and/or counterfeiting, is work has occasionally gotten him governmental attention, both in the US and the UK.This slim book is expanded from a magazine profile of Boggs. There's some interesting stuff here about process as art, and some overwrought stuff about the nature of money, and some dialog that drove me crazy. I'm guessing one of two things is true: either Weschler designates as quotes things that are actually paraphrased through his own stilted style, or everyone who spoke to him really does speak in the same awkward way. So there's that.* Doesn't that sound like a made-up name for a mad steampunk genius?

  • David
    2018-10-27 13:38

    A hilariously entertaining book, whose charm is nearly impossible to convey adequately. This partial description is taken from one of the editorial reviews on I include it here just to give an idea of what the book is about, and to encourage you to check it out for yourself:James Stephen George Boggs is not a con artist, he's a talented artist who deftly renders his own currency and "spends" it. Struck by the value of money, and what paper notes represent, he draws U.S. dollar bills, English pound notes, Swiss francs, and other forms of paper money; then he barters his illustrious artwork in lieu of cash to willing merchants who agree to honor his currency for services and products. In Boggs: A Comedy of Values, Lawrence Weschler, documents Boggs's whimsical antics, offering a quirky and lively meditation on the value of currency and workmanship and a richly informative (albeit brief) social history of money.

  • Emily
    2018-10-19 17:38

    A lot of books about money have long hold lists at the library right now (go figure!), but somehow this isn't one of them. Maybe this title is a few years old, but the questions raised by Boggs's art (and Weschler's investigation of it) are definitely relevant to the financial situation today. The only passages that feel dated are some that deal with electronic transactions and/or credit cards. This book left me feeling enlightened (dude, money really is all in our heads!!!!!!!!), interested (especially the sections on the history of commerce/capitalism), and enraged (the courtroom scenes are seriously, seriously outrageous). Also it made me want to read every other book Lawrence Weschler has ever written. That is all.

  • Mary Jo
    2018-10-24 12:39

    This is a really quirky book about the relationship between art and money, about how our culture determines the monetary value of a work of art. I had never heard of Boggs, but you gotta love someone who draws bills (American and otherwise)with slight deviations from the real thing, and only on one side of the paper. He then attempts to, often successfully, "spend" them. He makes it clear to those he does tranactions with that these are drawings,rather than actual currency. Still, they often end up worth far more than the face value of the bill would have been! A lot of the book details his adventures with banks and government agencies who are often unamused.

  • Matt
    2018-11-09 15:28

    Great to read some Weschler again -- he always expands my mind.Here we have the story of Boggs, an artist who draws pictures of currency and then values them identically to the bill he has drawn. So if he draws a $100 bill, he "sells" it for $100 and records the transaction.Interesting meditations on the history and role of money with Weschler's expansiveness and light touch and an engaging, larger-than-life central character in Boggs.Some of the "Is money even real?" questions seemed like they could lead to some of the hard-money crankery we see in some politics, but the questions are interesting and this thin book is entertaining.

  • Paul
    2018-11-05 10:48

    Weschler is an unusually sympathetic journalist whose work always delights. Here he profiles J. S. G. Boggs, an artist who uses his hand-drawn currency in place of 'real' money. The transactions themselves become performance art. It is a wonderful meditation on money as a belief system and our willful confusion surrounding the buying, selling, and collecting of money and art. A powerful corrective to all the business page blather about our current financial crisis.

  • Eunice
    2018-11-03 17:27

    i love Lawrence Weschler. he has an eye and ear for details that allude the unobservant and conveys it with a sense of marvel and wonder that shows respect and understanding for his subjects. and his ability to make the connection between the capricious nature of the valuation of art and the currency note using the art of Boggs is brilliant. great starting point for discussions about how things are "valued".

  • Lea
    2018-10-28 17:26

    This book is very interesting, I enjoyed reading it. I had to read it for school, so maybe that was why at times it was difficult to get into and the writing style seemed a bit dry. The material itself is fascinating though.

  • ThienVinh
    2018-11-19 10:31

    great book about how money's made up. it explores the relationship between money and art. really short + funny -- based on the life and work of boggs, a real-life artist who draws beautiful money and exchanges it for goods, beyond the actual face value of the forged bill.

  • Matthew
    2018-10-22 12:34

    I wrote a great review for this book but Goodreads lost it.

  • Natalie
    2018-10-22 14:46

    This wasn't a terrible book but not good enough to keep reading.

  • Ben Schaffer
    2018-11-15 15:47


  • David Bird
    2018-11-16 10:28

    Weschler benefits from the brilliance of his subject, who is much more memorable than the author's own insights.