“One thing to realize about the fractional reserve banking system is that, like a child's game of musical chairs, as long as the music is playing, there are no losers.”

Andrew Gause


Newsletter May 2012 - May 24, 2012


Opening KRBThe official opening of the Art Reserve Bank was a big succes. Bill Drummond, the designer of the first series, took everyone on a surprising walk in a large circle around the bank. This cirle enclosed all our neighbours including about every important financial organisation at Zuidas. In a relay the word ´MONEY´ was passed around.

After this remarkable performance, which left the public somewhat aghast, the first coin was minted. However, due to unforeseen logistic troubles, this was not Drummond's first coin, but a special design with the bank´s integrity declaration on it. Immediately private biddings were made for this unique collector´s item. Determined buyers had to be disappointed though: this design is not intended for public release, but solely meant for those businesses and organisations that helped build the bank.

Finding a daily routine

loket KRBThe bank is open but the headoffice isn’t completely finished yet. By and by hard labour is put into the terrain: information signs, security cameras, lighting etc. This delayed work on the new website, which should incorporate the all important dealing room. We expect to launch the new website by next week.

Meanwhile new clients apply daily. Either at the counter, where the teller in charge has a full-day's job minting, numbering and selling coins and explaining the bank’s purpose. Or online where pleople can order individual coins or the whole series. We have decided to send off the individually ordered coins at the end of each week. The dispatch of series will follow at the end of the month when all 4 coins have been minted. So gradually the procedures are getting clearer and a kind of routine comes into sight.

The financial workers at Zuidas are still a bit puzzled by the Art Reserve Bank, but even so regularly apply at the counter. Usually for information about this odd neighbour, but every now and then people offer their help to think, work and bring up new ideas. Apparently even people deep down in the banking world realise that the era of unrestrained banking has passed and it is time for a fundamental recalibration of the financial system. Obviously our practical experiment with a new reserve currency is appealing to many. Not only because of the remarkable appearance of our bank, but most of all beause of the well thought out monetary ideas that are visualised by it.

In that sense the bank is already quite succesful. Is everything going smoothly? Not really, due to some start-up trouble. Producing a new stamp weekly is, not only technically but also logistically and organisation wise, an almost impossible task. We obviously didn’t master this those first few weeks. As a result Bill Drummond’s 2nd, 3d en 4th coin were produced later than planned. By working weekends we hope to win back lost time in order to dispatch the ordered series in the first week of June.

Also the coin press is an old man that doesn’t pound as hard as we would want. The coins are now minted in alpaca. This appealing copper-nickel-zinc alloy has a fine silvery shine but is actually too tough for our press. Certain designs must therefore be adapted. The next series of roundels will be fired in the factory, to expell the tension so the metal can flow into the stamps more easily. In the meantime we are testing alternative alloys.

Participating artists

For a long time already we have been contacting artists to design coins. Almost everyone is enthousiastic about the idea of the experiment about the introduction of currency of which the value is determined by art. They aren’t the least of artists who have volunteered to design a series of coins.

The list is still growing and not yet definite, but the following artists will certainly participate: Sylvie Zijlmans, Hans van Houwelingen, Marte Röling, Ted Noten, Merijn Bolink, Jonas Staal, Erik van Lieshout, Marlene Dumas, Lily van der Stokker en Anne de Vries. All of them people who have earned their merits and can give a very special interpretation of the idea of a new reserve currency. Who will contribute when is not yet clear as it depends on the often busy schedule of these well known artists.

Artist of the month: John Körmeling

John KörmelingSurely June’s series will be designed by famous artist, architect and inventor John Körmeling from Eindhoven. His work is highly regarded and appreciated nationally as well as internationally – both by art institutions and the public.
Although trained as an architect Körmeling manifests himself primarily in visual arts assignments bordering on functional buildings and architectional sculpture. In clear and minutely engineered designs he applies almost cartoon-like architectional forms, in combination with banal additions like fair lighting and advertisments. The richness of his ideas also expresses itself in his work as an inventor or city planner. For the 2010 Expo in Shanghai Körmeling designed the Dutch pavilion Happy Street. This extremely succesful desing lead to his nomination as Officer of the Order of Oranje-Nassau later that year.

Friday 1st June 18:00 hrs : First minting

For the reserve currency of the Art Reserve Bank Körmeling has created four designs that refer to basic values and calibrating points. The first of this series will be minted on Friday 1st June at 18:00 hrs by the artist himself.

Everyone is welcome  from 17:30 at the headoffice
v Mahlerlaan, Zuidas for drinks and a snack

Art Reserve Bank and the media

The question is often asked why the media report so little about Art Reserve Bank. Don't we do anything about publicity? To be frank: no - we don't. On the one hand this is due to time and money: which we both lack. On the other hand we rather like the fact that we are hovering below the radar of the main-stream media. Indeed this is a long term project about complex issues that can’t be translated into simple soundbites. So spending a lot of time and money to get journalists intereted to do a 2 minutes report, is not worth it. Serious reporters that are really intrigued will find us anyway. Thus a full page article about the bank appeared in the economy section of NRC (dutch). Also IKON made a well informed radio broadcast about the background of the bank.

In this respect an article in FD (dutch) is also interesting. Klaas van Egmond and Bert de Vries reveal exactly the key issue of the current monetary crisis, which is of course the surfeit of virtual value because of the unbridled creation of money by private parties. A problem to which the Art Reserve Bank has at least articulated an interesting answer. Pass it on!

Committee recommendation:

Herman WijffelsProf.dr. H.H.F. Wijffels, former CEO of Rabobank, chairman of the Dutch Social Economic Council and administrator at the World Bank in Washington. Herman Wijffels is currently professor of 'Sustainability and Social change' at Utrecht University.

Arnold HeertjeProf.dr. A. Heertje, Emiritus professor of Political Economy at University of Amsterdam's law faculty. Meanwhile professor of History of Economics and member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW).

Rick van der PloegProf.dr. F. van der Ploeg, was State Secretary for culture and media in the Kok II cabinet. Rick van der Ploeg is now professor of Economics at Oxford University and professor Political Economy at Amsterdam School of Economics.

Coop Art Reserve Bank — Overtoom 256, 1054JA Amsterdam — T. +31 6 1226 3331 — info@kunstreservebank.nl