Cash is King the Art of the Defaced Banknote Book Review

Cash is King, the much anticipated art book from the pens and minds of Carrie Reichardt and Bob Osborne remembers a history of protest through the defacement of banknotes.

Featuring artists from across the urban art scene, they have contributed to the works of Reichardt and Osborne in the form of their own defaced notes. Each reinterpreting the brief in their own way and each, to steal a phrase from the foreword, giving their own ‘two finger salute to control’.

cash is king
A defaced £5 note from Bob Osborne and Carrie Reichardt

Cash is King Book Review

Because that’s really what this book remembers. A literary and artistic tribute to the history of paper money which throughout the years has had various penalties aligned to its defacement. It is apparently still an offence to deface any Bank of England note.

Not that any of the artists or authors really care about any of that. Especially the authors, both of whom are known for their anti-establishment and campaigning art which challenges the status quo and which challenges those who see it.

A 05 Bob Osborne and Carrie Reichardt
‘Are you being seduced into buying something you don’t need’ by Bob Osborne and Carrie Reichardt

Bob Osborne and Carrie Reichardt

Osborne, better known as ‘Rebel Not Taken‘ got his name from what he describes as a lucky ancestor who escaped the Kings forces at the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. Where many of the nonconformist rebels trying trying to lay siege to the city of Bristol were captured and hung. Some, managed to escape. They were described as ‘rebel and not taken’.

Reichardt meanwhile has made a name for herself campaigning for the rights of political prisoners on death row. Her art also draws on archival records in order to make it relevant for the community she is working in. Describing her work as ‘ceramic tapestry’ it’s about weaving local people with their histories together. We’ve featured Carrie’s work a number of times here on Inspiring City including this feature on her mosaic covered house in Chiswick.

A 26 Carrie Reichardt
Eat the Rich or Sew Them Art by Carrie Reichardt

Defacing and Refacing Money

According to the Cash is King book, the defacing and refacing of money as an act allied to civil disobedience is a time-honored tactic. A small but significant subversion aimed at centralised authority. The book is doing that, poking fun at authority whilst celebrating the creativity that can come with doing just that.

With original art from a variety of different artists with different backgrounds, styles and nationalities. We learn about the artists and their inspirations. Featuring art from Osborne and Reichardt at the centre, this book is nonetheless a huge collaboration. It’s an exciting book and certainly deserves its reputation as one of the most anticipated urban art books of the year.

Cash is King by Bob Osborne and Carrie Reichardt is released at a launch at the Saatchi Gallery on 30 August 2018.  You can find out more about the release of the book here. To see an article on the sequel Cash is King 2: Money Talks click here.

Cash is King Gallery

A 53 Hello the Mushroom
Hello the Mushroom an artist whose colourful skull imagery has been appearing around the East End of London over the past few years becoming ever more popular. You can read an interview we did with her here.
A 115 Louise McNaught
Louise McNaught is a fine artist whose work often focuses on highlighting endangered species. We spoke to her recently for our ‘Art Related Nonsense’ podcast and you can download that here.
A 118 ATM Street Art
ATM is an artist who has become well known for painting giant birds on the street and bringing nature back into the cities. You can read an interview we conducted with him recently here.
A 130 Lady Muck
Lady Muck is a long time collaborator and friend of Reichardt. From the north of England originally we love her Hilda Odgen themed piece
A 155 Raffealla Bertolini
Raffaella Bertolini is a fine artist originally from Italy but now based in London. Her piece is a commentary on the disgrace of the British government’s treatment of people from the Windrush generation. You can read out interview with her here.
A 157 Al Diaz
An amazing piece from Al Diaz, formerly one half of the famous ‘SAMO (c)’ with Jean-Michel Basquiat.
A 04 Skeleton Cardboard cash is king
‘You can’t take it with you’ banknote from Skeleton Cardboard
A 65 Silent Bill cash is king
‘Bankruptcy of England’ £0 note from Silent Bill the chief cashier
A 256 Ben Oakley
Ben Oakley, owner of the popular Ben Oakley Gallery, with a piece for the book. We interviewed Ben a few years ago and you can read about it here.
A 260 DrD
A black eye and a bust lip. Dr. D is the ultimate subvertiser with his subtle plays with authority
A 215 Andrew Mackay cash is king
New Zealand artist Andrew Mackay used a one dollar bill to paint this portrait of a Maori chieftain.


  1. Loves these so much I have just bought the Hilda Ogden bank note from the Saatchi Gallery! I have also sent my order in for the book on Bob’s website… Both the banks notes and book are sure to sell out very quickly…. I will go to the exhibition on Saturday, so many thanks for the heads up……. Poundland here I come!!!!!

    1. Oh wow that’s one of my favourites, what a great buy. The book is a really excellent read too

      1. Just had an invite to the PV from Carrie so will pop down on Thursday! Both the book and notes do look good buys for sure! No short change here then £££$$$$££

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