ABCorp (American Banknote Corporation)
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|Industry||Manufacturing, Financial Solutions|
|William Brown, CEO|
ABCorp (American Banknote Corporation) is an American corporation providing secure payment, retail and ID cards, vital record and transaction documents, systems and services to governments and financial institutions - and is one of the largest producers of plastic transaction cards in the world. ABCorp has offices and manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Germany, Dubai and South Africa. Formerly known as the American Bank Note Company, the organization was originally a major worldwide engraver of national currency and postage stamps.
Robert Scot, the first official engraver of the young U.S. Mint, began the company that would eventually grow into the nation’s premier high security engraving and printing firm, the American Bank Note Company.
Founded in 1795 as Murray, Draper, Fairman & Company (after Scot's three partners), the company prospered as the young United States population expanded and financial institutions blossomed. Its products included superior quality stock and bond certificates, paper currency for the nation’s thousands of state-chartered banks, postage stamps (from 1879 to 1894), and a wide variety of other engraved and printed items.
On April 29, 1858, following the Panic of 1857, seven of the nation’s most prominent security printers merged to form the American Bank Note Company. The new company made New York City its headquarters. Less than two years later, the remaining handful of independent bank note printers merged to form the National Bank Note Company that we know of today.
To be close to the stock exchanges, brokerage firms, and banks in lower Manhattan, the American Bank Note Company established its New York City headquarters in the Merchants Exchange Building at 55 Wall Street. The company moved its office and plant to 142 Broadway (at the corner of Liberty Street) in 1867, to another new facility at 78–86 Trinity Place in 1882, and again to 70 Broad Street in 1908.
The first paper currency was circulated by the US Treasury Department following the outbreak of the Civil War. Congress passed authorizing legislation for $60 million worth of these “Demand Notes” on July 17 and August 5, 1861. Under contract with the government, the novel paper money, called “greenbacks” by the public, was produced by the American Bank Note Co. and the National Bank Note Co. A total of 7.25 million notes were produced in denominations of $5, $10, and $20. In an interesting historical sidelight, American and National were also producing paper money for the Confederacy at the same time.
Following the initial production of U.S. currency by the government’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 1862, ABNCo sought a new source of demand for its services. They found it in foreign lands. The company would eventually go on to supply security paper and bank notes to 115 foreign countries.
In 1877, pursuant to a law enacted by Congress, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing became the sole producer of all United States currency. The security printing industry, finding a good deal of its work had evaporated, accordingly underwent a second major consolidation in 1879, as American absorbed the National Bank Note and Continental Bank Note companies. At the time of the merger, Continental held the contract to produce U. S. Postage stamps, and this production continued under the American aegis.
In 1887, ABNCo won the second four-year contract to engrave and print Postal notes for the U.S. post office. (New York’s Homer Lee Bank Note Company produced these notes during the first contract period.) American assigned Thomas F. Morris, its Chief Designer, the task of re-designing this early money order. The paper for this contract (as for all Postal Notes and a massive number of official U.S. high security documents) was produced by Crane and Co. of Dalton, Massachusetts.
In 1891 the American Bank Note Company began producing a new form of money for a longtime customer: the American Express "Travelers Cheque." In its first year, American Express sold $9,120 worth of its new invention. During 2000, sales of American Express Traveler's Cheques totaled $24.6 billion.
In 1894, ABNCo completed the final contract for the private printing of American stamps. Perhaps their most popular stamps were the one cent to $5 issues commemorating the 1892–93 Columbian Exposition (for which they had also printed the admission tickets) in Chicago. On July 1, 1894 American delivered its entire stamp-producing operation to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C., where U.S. stamps were still printed up into the 1990s.
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In 1943 the U.S. Post Office launched a series of thirteen stamps honoring the countries that had been overrun by the axis during World War II. Each stamp featured a full-color reproduction of one of the occupied nations. While the Bureau of Engraving and Printing had previously issued bi-colored stamps, it did not have equipment for printing the necessary multi-colored flag images; and so, contracted with the American Banknote Company to produce the stamps. Issued between June 1943 and November 1944, the Overrun Countries series reproduced the flags of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania, Austria, Denmark, and Korea,
American Banknote Corporation is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, with USA manufacturing facilities located in Boston, Massachusetts and Columbia, Tennessee.
Today, following a variety of financial transformations over the past 220+ years, ABCorp offers a wide variety of secure and official plastic cards, documents, mobile applications, cloud services and other business solutions. Operations are located in Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, South Africa, Czech Republic, England and France.
The American Bank Note Company Building and American Bank Note Company Printing Plant were both built in 1908 and are both designated New York City Landmarks. The former is also listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The buildings were sold in 1988 and 1985, respectively.
Benjamin Franklin Issue of 1861 from the first series of US Postage Stamps produced by the National Bank Note Co (later called the American Bank Note Co.
Pedro Álvares Cabral - steel engraving by American Bank Note Company
Greek bank note of 1912 for the NBG-Bank
Dutch Guilder printed for the Dutch government-in-exile, 1943
- Postage stamp
- Postage stamps and postal history of the United States
- Bureau of Engraving and Printing
- New York Bank Note Company
- Homer Lee Bank Note Company
- Canadian Bank Note Company - Canadian unit from 1897 to 1923
References and sources
- Two security printers absorbed into the ABN in 1879 produced U. S. Postage stamps between 1861 and that year: the National Bank Note Company (1861-73) and the Continental Banknote Company (1873-79
- Hessler, Gene (1993). The Engraver’s Line – An Encyclopedia of Paper Money & Postage Stamp Art. BNR Press. p. 19. ISBN 0-931960-36-3.
- Shargi, Ali (15 December 1998), ESKENĀS, VIII/6, Encyclopædia Iranica, pp. 615–624
- The Overrun Countries Series - Junior Philatelists. Archived April 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
- Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps
- Antecedents of the American Bank Note Company of 1858 by Foster Wild Rice
- The Story of the American Bank Note Company by William H. Griffiths
- America’s Money America’s Story by Richard Doty
- The Comprehensive Catalog of U.S. Paper Money by Gene Hessler
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