Seal of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
|Formed||August 29, 1862|
|Headquarters||300 14th St SW|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Parent agency||Department of the Treasury|
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is a government agency within the United States Department of the Treasury that designs and produces a variety of security products for the United States government, most notable of which is Federal Reserve Notes (paper money) for the Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank. In addition to paper currency, the BEP produces Treasury securities; military commissions and award certificates; invitations and admission cards; and many different types of identification cards, forms, and other special security documents for a variety of government agencies. The BEP does not produce coins; all coinage is produced by the United States Mint. With production facilities in Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the largest producer of government security documents in the United States.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has its origins in legislation enacted to help fund the Civil War. In July 1861, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to issue paper currency in lieu of coins due to the lack of funds needed to support the conflict. The paper notes were essentially government IOUs and were called Demand Notes because they were payable "on demand" in coin at certain Treasury facilities. At this time the government had no facility for the production of paper money so a private firm produced the Demand Notes in sheets of four. These sheets were then sent to the Treasury Department where dozens of clerks signed the notes and scores of workers cut the sheets and trimmed the notes by hand. The Second Legal Tender Act (July 11, 1862; 12 Stat. 532) authorized the Treasury Secretary to engrave and print notes at the Treasury Department; the design of which incorporates fine-line engraving, intricate geometric lathe work patterns, a Treasury seal, and engraved signatures to aid in counterfeit deterrence.
Initially, the currency processing operations in the Treasury were not formally organized. When Congress created the Office of Comptroller of the Currency and National Currency Bureau in 1863, currency-processing operations were nominally subordinated to that agency and designated the "First Division, National Currency Bureau". For years, however, the currency operations were known by various semi-official labels, such as the "Printing Bureau", "Small Note Bureau", "Currency Department", and "Small Note Room". It was not until 1874 that the "Bureau of Engraving and Printing" was officially recognized in congressional legislation with a specific allocation of operating funds for fiscal year 1875.
From almost the very beginning of its operations, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing designed and printed a variety of products in addition to currency. As early as 1864, the offices which would later become the BEP made passports for the State Department and money orders for the Post Office Department. Passports are now produced by the Government Publishing Office. Other early items produced by the BEP included various government debt instruments, such as interest-bearing notes, refunding certificates, compound interest Treasury notes, and bonds. The production of postage stamps began in 1894, and for almost the next century the BEP was the sole producer of postage stamps in the country.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing officially took over production of postage stamps for the United States government in July 1894. The first of the works printed by the BEP was placed on sale on July 18, 1894, and by the end of the first year of stamp production, the BEP had printed and delivered more than 2.1 billion stamps. The United States Postal Service switched purely to private postage stamp printers in 2005, ending 111 years of production by the Bureau. Starting in 2011 the United States Postal Service in-housed all postage stamp printing services.
Plate capacity on power presses increased from four to eight notes per sheet in 1918 in order to meet greatly expanded production requirements related to World War I.
With the redesign of currency in 1929, the first major change since paper currency was first issued in 1861, note design was not only standardized but note size was also significantly reduced. Due to this reduction in size, the Bureau was able to convert from eight-note printing plates to twelve-note plates. The redesign effort came about for several reasons, chief among them a reduction in paper costs and improved counterfeit deterrence through better public recognition of currency features.
A further increase in the number of notes per sheet was realized in 1952 after breakthrough developments in the production of non-offset inks. Beginning in 1943, the BEP experimented with new inks that dried faster, therefore obviating the need to place tissues between sheets to prevent ink from offsetting to other sheets. The faster drying ink also enabled printed sheets of backs to be kept damp until the faces were printed, thereby reducing distortion caused by wetting, drying, and re-wetting of the paper (sheets needed to be dampened before each printing).
By reducing the distortion that increases proportionally with the size of the sheet of paper, the Bureau was able to convert from 12-note printing plates to plates capable of printing 18 notes in 1952. Five years later in 1957, the Bureau began printing currency via the dry intaglio method that utilizes special paper and non-offset inks, enabling a further increase from 18 to 32 notes per sheet. Since 1968, all currency has been printed by means of the dry intaglio process, whereby wetting of the paper prior to printing is unnecessary. In this process, fine-line engravings are transferred to steel plates from which an impression is made on sheets of distinctive paper. Ink is applied to a plate containing 32 note impressions, which is then wiped clean, leaving ink in the engraved lines. The plate is pressed against the sheet of paper with such pressure as to actually press the paper into the lines of the plate to pick up the ink. Both faces and backs are printed in this manner – backs first. After the faces are printed, the sheets are then typographically overprinted with Treasury Seals and serial numbers.
During Fiscal Year 2013, the Bureau delivered 6.6 billion notes at an average cost of 10 cents per note.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has two locations: one in Washington, D.C., and another in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Washington facility consists of two adjacent buildings. The elder, considered the main building and located between 14th and 15th streets SW, was constructed in 1914. 505-foot (154 m) length of the building's front. The building is 296 feet (90 m) deep and 105 feet (32 m) high with four wings that extend back toward 14th Street. The building is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places as Auditor's Building Complex.The architectural style of the main building is neoclassical. It has a steel superstructure with fireproof concrete, Indiana limestone, and granite trim exterior. The main façade of the building faces Raoul Wallenberg Place (15th St), the Tidal Basin, and the Jefferson Memorial, with stone columns spanning the
In May 1938, work was completed on an addition to the Washington, D.C., facility to accommodate increases in personnel and production. The annex building, as it is called, is located on 14th Street, between C and D streets SW, just opposite the main building. The building is 570 feet (170 m) long, 285 feet (87 m) wide, and made entirely of reinforced concrete with a limestone façade. The structure consists of a central backbone running from 14th Street to 13th Street with five wings extending north and south from the backbone.
The Washington, D.C., location offers a free 30-minute guided tour which features the various phases of currency production. Tours may be taken Monday through Friday. The Bureau is closed for all federal holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
In 1987, construction began on a second facility in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition to meeting increased production requirements, a western location was seen to serve as a contingency operation in case of emergencies in the DC metropolitan area; additionally, costs for transporting currency to Federal Reserve banks in San Francisco, Dallas, and Kansas City would be reduced. Currency production began in December 1990 at the Fort Worth facility, and the official dedication took place on April 26, 1991. Any currency printed at Fort Worth includes a small "FW", usually located to the left of the bill's face plate number, and most also have larger back plate numbers.
The Bureau moved into its own building in 1880 with the completion of a facility at 14th St. and Independence Ave. SW, now the Sidney Yates Building. An addition was built on the south side of the building in 1891. The Bureau relocated to its present Washington location, just south of the original building, in 1914.
The Bureau operates a police department, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Police Force, that protects BEP personnel and facilities. The BEP Police are responsible for enforcing federal and local laws, Treasury Department rules and regulations, Washington, DC Criminal Code through a Memorandum of Understanding, and Texas Criminal Code.In 2004, 234 Police officers were employed.
Federal Reserve Notes, also United States banknotes, are the banknotes currently used in the United States of America. Denominated in United States dollars, Federal Reserve Notes are printed by the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing on paper made by Crane & Co. of Dalton, Massachusetts. Federal Reserve Notes are the only type of U.S. banknote currently produced. Federal Reserve Notes are authorized by Section 16 of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and are issued to the Federal Reserve Banks at the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The notes are then put into circulation by the Federal Reserve Banks, at which point they become liabilities of the Federal Reserve Banks and obligations of the United States.
The United States five-dollar bill ($5) is a denomination of United States currency. The current $5 bill features the 16th U.S. President (1861-65), Abraham Lincoln's portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial on the back. All $5 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes.
The United States ten-dollar bill ($10) is a denomination of U.S. currency. The obverse of the bill features the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, who served as the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. The reverse features the U.S. Treasury Building. All $10 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes.
The United States one-hundred-dollar bill ($100) is a denomination of United States currency. The first United States Note with this value was issued in 1862 and the Federal Reserve Note version was launched in 1914, alongside other denominations. Statesman, inventor, diplomat, and American founding father Benjamin Franklin has been featured on the obverse of the bill since 1914. On the reverse of the banknote is an image of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which has been used since 1928. The $100 bill is the largest denomination that has been printed and circulated since July 13, 1969, when the denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 were retired. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing says the average life of a $100 bill in circulation is 90 months before it is replaced due to wear and tear.
Large denominations of United States currency greater than $100 were circulated by the United States Treasury until 1969. Since then, U.S. dollar banknotes have only been issued in seven denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.
The United States one-dollar bill ($1) since 1876 has been the lowest value denomination of United States paper currency. An image of the first U.S. President (1789–1797), George Washington, based on the Athenaeum Portrait, a 1796 painting by Gilbert Stuart, is currently featured on the obverse, and the Great Seal of the United States is featured on the reverse. The one-dollar bill has the oldest overall design of all U.S. currency currently being produced. The obverse design of the dollar bill seen today debuted in 1963 when it was first issued as a Federal Reserve Note.
Symbols of the United States Department of the Treasury include the Flag of the Treasury Department and the U.S. Treasury Seal. The seal actually predates the department itself, having originated with the Board of Treasury during the period of the Articles of Confederation. The seal is used on all U.S. paper currency, and on official Treasury documents.
Web notes are a type of United States currency named after the "web printing production" method of printing on continuous rolls of paper. There are several types of web printing production methods, including offset, gravure (intaglio), flexography, etc. However high-pressure web intaglio printing, front and back of the intaglio process, was a totally new idea.
Fractional currency, also referred to as shinplasters, was introduced by the United States federal government following the outbreak of the Civil War. These low-denomination banknotes of the United States dollar were in use between 21 August 1862 and 15 February 1876, and issued in 3, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cent denominations across five issuing periods. The complete type set below is part of the National Numismatic Collection, housed at the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution.
ABCorp is an American corporation providing contract manufacturing and related services to the Authentication, Payment and Secure Access sectors. Its history dates back to 1795 as a secure engraver and printer, and assisting the newly formed First Bank of the United States to design and produce more counterfeit resistant currency. ABCorp's customers span the Commercial, Financial, and Government & Not-for-Profit sectors, across 100+ countries. The company has facilities in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. American Bank Note Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of ABCorp.
This page is a glossary of notaphily. Notaphily is the study of paper money or banknotes.
The United States Treasury Police was the federal security police of the United States Department of the Treasury responsible for providing police and security to the Treasury Building and the Treasury Annex.
Spencer M. Clark was the first Superintendent of the National Currency Bureau, today known as the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, from 1862 to 1868.
The Washington–Franklin Issues are a series of definitive U.S. Postage stamps depicting George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, issued by the U.S. Post Office between 1908 and 1922. The distinctive feature of this issue is that it employs only two engraved heads set in ovals—Washington and Franklin in full profile—and replicates one or another of these portraits on every stamp denomination in the series. This is a significant departure from previous definitive issues, which had featured pantheons of famous Americans, with each portrait-image confined to a single denomination. At the same time, this break with the recent past represented a return to origins. Washington and Franklin, after all, had appeared on the first two American stamps, issued in 1847, and during the next fifteen years, each of the eight stamp denominations available featured either Washington or Franklin.
The Regular Issues of 1922–1931 were a series of 27 U.S. postage stamps issued for general everyday use by the U.S. Post Office. Unlike the definitives previously in use, which presented only a Washington or Franklin image, each of these definitive stamps depicted a different president or other subject, with Washington and Franklin each confined to a single denomination. The series not only restored the historical tradition of honoring multiple presidents on U.S. Postage but extended it. Offering the customary presidential portraits of the martyred Lincoln and Garfield, the war hero Grant, and the founding fathers Washington and Jefferson, the series also memorialized some of the more recently deceased presidents, beginning with Hayes, McKinley, Cleveland and Roosevelt. Later, the deaths of Harding, Wilson and Taft all prompted additions to the presidential roster of Regular Issue stamps, and Benjamin Harrison's demise (1901) was belatedly deemed recent enough to be acknowledged as well, even though it had already been recognized in the Series of 1902. The Regular Issues also included other notable Americans, such as Martha Washington and Nathan Hale—and, moreover, was the first definitive series since 1869 to offer iconic American pictorial images: these included the Statue of Liberty, the Capitol Building and others. The first time (1869) that images other than portraits of statesmen had been featured on U.S. postage, the general public disapproved, complaining that the scenes were no substitute for images of presidents and Franklin. However, with the release of these 1922 regular issues, the various scenes—which included the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial and even an engraving of an American Buffalo—prompted no objections. To be sure, this series presented pictorial images only on the higher-value stamps; the more commonly used denominations, of 12 cents and lower, still offered the traditional portraits.
Larry R. Felix is an American civil servant who served as the Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) within the United States Department of the Treasury from 2006 to 2015.
In early 18th century Colonial America, engravers began experimenting with copper plates as an alternative medium to wood. Applied to the production of paper currency, copper-plate engraving allowed for greater detail and production during printing. It was the transition to steel engraving that enabled banknote design and printing to rapidly advance in the United States during the 19th century.
US Treasury Department Specimen books, also known as BEP presentation albums, were published by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) from the mid-1860s through the 1910s. Prepared upon request of the United States Secretary of the Treasury, albums were generally presented to Cabinet members, select Members of Congress, diplomats and visiting dignitaries. Some extant albums still in their original binding bear the name of the recipient impressed in gold lettering on the cover. While no two presentation albums have exactly the same contents, each book usually contained portraits, vignettes, and/or images of buildings. Specimen books which contain whole proof images of currency are extremely rare.
Cuban silver certificates were banknotes issued by the Cuban government between 1934 and 1949. Prior and subsequent issues of Cuban banknotes were engraved and printed by nongovernmental private bank note companies in the United States, but the series from 1934 to 1949 were designed, engraved, and printed by the US government at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP).
The United States two-dollar bill ($2) is a current denomination of United States currency. A portrait of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States (1801–09), is featured on the obverse of the note. The reverse features an engraving of the painting Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull.
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