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BEP BillBureau of Engraving and Printing History

The United States Treasury’s processing and issuance of paper currency began in 1861 with workers signing, separating, and trimming sheets of Demand Notes in the Treasury building. Gradually, the separating and trimming of currency sheets became mechanized, and, on August 29, 1862, a separate note processing operation was set up in the basement of the Treasury building. This new workshop eventually took on the new engraving and printing duties entrusted to the Treasury, becoming the basis of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP).

Within a short time, the Bureau was producing currency, revenue stamps, government obligations, and other security documents. In 1877, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing became the sole producer of all United States currency. The addition of postage stamp production to its workload in 1894 established the Bureau as the nation’s security printer, responding to the needs of the United States Government in times of both peace and war. Today, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the largest producer of United States Government security documents with production facilities in Washington, D.C., and in Fort Worth, Texas.

Treasury Building-(circa 1862)History of the BEP Buildings (1862-1880)
The first home of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the Treasury Building located on 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue. From 1862 until 1880, the work of engraving, printing and processing securities was completed primarily in the basement and attic of the building. To transport paper and printed materials between the two locations, a dumb waiter was employed. Directly after the Civil War, recommendations were put forth by the first chief, Spencer Clark, to find a building that could be used exclusively for the printing of the securities of the United States.

BEP main building-(circa 1914) History of the BEP Buildings (1880-1914)
Suggestions for a new location were finally taken seriously in 1877 when the Secretary of the Treasury agreed with the move to a fireproof building. A section of land was considered that was owned by the Federal Government between 14th and 15th Streets and B Street, N.W. (now Constitution Avenue) and B Street, S.W. (now Independence Avenue), currently the area just east of the Washington Monument. The Secretary of the Treasury believed that the better location was nearer the corner of 14th and B Street S.W. placing it in line with the Smithsonian Institution and the Department of Agriculture buildings. However, the area that was chosen was a section of land on the southwest corner of 14th Street and B Streets, just south of the government-owned property.

Congressional authority approved the new building to be used primarily by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and by other branches of the Treasury Department. The land was purchased in June 1878, from William W. Corcoran, a banker and founder of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. James G. Hill, then Supervising Architect of the Treasury, designed the building. It was completed at a cost of $300,000 and occupied in July of 1880. This building was the first for the Bureau and due to the limited space no other branches were housed there.

Later called “the old brick building” by Bureau of Engraving and Printing employees (known today as the Auditor’s Complex which houses the US Forest Service), it is Romanesque in style. It is constructed with rolled iron girders and pressed brick, dark red in color. The concrete foundation was poured in September 1878. At the time of construction, it was 220-feet long and 135-feet wide with four stories, a basement, a sub-basement, and a tower. In the tower, there was to be a clock, but it was never installed.

Almost immediately it became obvious that the area surrounding the building was not big enough for the necessary outbuildings. Plans were enacted to obtain the privately owned land to the south then used for outbuildings and for an alley for the horses and carriages. This new brick building changed a rural area with dirt roads to an urban area with cobblestone streets. Over the next thirty years, the building, the land, and the Bureau continually underwent renovations. These included purchasing additional tracts of land, constructing additional wings to the building, and new outbuildings for storage and shops. By 1906, the expansion had reached its limits, and again it was time to consider a move to a new location.

BEP building-(circa 1880)History of the BEP Buildings (1914-1938)
With an appropriation from Congress in 1911, several options were explored: the expansion of the old building site, the purchase of privately owned land to the south, or the purchase of a completely different site. Due to a variety of circumstances, the option to build a second building, between 14th and 15th Street, to the south of the red brick building was chosen. Congress appropriated a total of $2,300,000 toward the purchase of the land and the construction of this new building. With James Knox Taylor as the Supervising Architect, a construction contract was signed on November 17th, 1911, to have the building completed by May 1st, 1913. Construction was done by J. Henry Miller, Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland. Due to foul weather and a lack of steel girders, the construction was not completed until February 24th, 1914, and the new building was not formally occupied until March 19th, 1914. The overall cost was $2,882,000.

BEP annex building-(circa 1938)History of the BEP Buildings (1938-1991)
By the mid 1920’s, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was once again looking to expand and centralize its facilities since the outbuildings were in poor condition and additions to the building were not practical. On August 13th, 1935, Congress appropriated $2,000,000, not to exceed $5,500,000, for the land and construction for a new building opposite the main building on 14th Street, between C and D Streets. The third building, known as the “annex building”, would also house the Public Debt Division of the Treasury Department. By March of 1936, extensive plans had been drawn up, demolition of the existing structures had begun and in June the first concrete was poured. The building was occupied on May 17th, 1938 and dedicated in November of 1938 at a total cost of $6,325,000.

Western Currency Facility-(circa 1991)History of the BEP Buildings (1991-present)
In 1985, the Treasury Department authorized the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to begin the search for a site west of the Mississippi River to produce currency. This was intended to reduce the transportation costs of currency to the Federal Reserve Banks in San Francisco, California, Dallas, Texas and Kansas City, Missouri, to accommodate the need for additional currency to be produced and to implement additional security and emergency preparedness. Eighty-three cities submitted proposals and eleven cities continued until the next cut where four cities made the final round. In November of 1986, the city chosen to host the Western Currency Facility was Fort Worth, Texas.

Started in 1987, the site preparation, internal roads, water supply, building shell and Federal Reserve vault were constructed by the City of Fort Worth, with the architectural engineering firm of Kirk, Voich and Gist being the supervising architect. The State of Texas contributed to the project with major road improvements, and Texas Utilities extended electrical services several miles.

Kirk, Voich and Gist produced a design for the building, which includes a unique glass atrium representing the pyramid on the one-dollar note. The Army Corp of Engineers served as the Bureau’s representative for architectural and engineering design review, contracting officer and construction manager. The prime construction contractor for the completion of the facility was Clearwater Construction, Inc.

The cost of the design and construction of the Western Currency Facility was $110,000,000, paid directly by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Currency production within the building began in January of 1991 with the official opening on April 26. The design of the Fort Worth Facility received an honor award in 1991 from the Fort Worth Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Denomination

FY 1980

FY 1981

FY 1982

FY 1983

FY 1984

$ 1

1,939,840,000

1,954,560,000

2,040,320,000

2,229,760,000

2,771,200,000

$ 5

427,520,000

519,680,000

614,400,000

583,680,000

716,800,000

$ 10

495,360,000

536,320,000

540,160,000

592,640,000

812,800,000

$ 20

634,880,000

812,800,000

683,520,000

994,560,000

1,292,800,000

$ 50

56,960,000

67,200,000

94,720,000

115,200,000

128,000,000

$100

100,480,000

118,400,000

108,800,000

85,760,000

137,600,000

Denomination

FY 1985

FY 1986

FY 1987

FY 1988

FY 1989

$ 1

2,851,200,000

3,123,200,000

3,232,000,000

2,960,000,000

2,860,800,000

$ 5

777,600,000

844,800,000

780,800,000

745,600,000

835,200,000

$ 10

784,000,000

678,000,000

697,600,000

652,800,000

771,200,000

$ 20

1,449,600,000

1,475,200,000

1,472,000,000

1,350,400,000

1,526,400,000

$ 50

137,600,000

182,400,000

195,200,000

144,400,000

134,400,000

$100

160,000,000

176,000,000

217,600,000

160,000,000

201,600,000

Denomination

FY 1990

FY 1991

FY 1992

FY 1993

FY 1994

$ 1

3,148,800,000

3,212,800,000

4,089,600,000

3,513,600,000

4,563,200,000

$ 5

912,000,000

979,200,000

787,200,000

1,126,400,000

1,004,800,000

$ 10

771,200,000

812,800,000

1,036,800,000

640,800,000

793,600,000

$ 20

1,801,600,000

1,926,400,000

1,760,000,000

2,169,600,000

2,252,800,000

$ 50

128,000,000

128,000,000

556,800,000

259,200,000

115,200,000

$100

240,000,000

956,800,000

217,600,000

323,200,000

604,800,000

Denomination

FY 1995

FY 1996

FY 1997

FY 1998

FY 1999

$ 1

4,428,800,000

4,166,400,000

4,646,400,000

3,814,400,000

3,539,200,000

$ 2

N/A

51,200,000

102,400,000

N/A

N/A

$ 5

992,000,000

1,1258,400,000

896,000,000

857,600,000

832,000,000

$ 10

672,000,000

1,011,200,000

998,400,000

761,600,000

614,400,000

$ 20

2,476,800,000

1,363,200,000

1,881,600,000

2,278,400,000

4,134,400,000

$ 50

147,200,000

441,600,000

406,400,000

723,200,000

694,400,000

$100

595,200,000

1,251,200,000

649,600,000

764,800,000

1,542,400,000

Denomination

FY 2000

FY 2001

FY 2002

FY 2003

FY 2004

$ 1

5,190,400,000

5,145,600,000

2,880,000,000

3,699,200,000

4,147,200,000

$ 2

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

121,600,000

$ 5

640,000,000

979,200,000

1,350,400,000

550,400,000

627,200,000

$ 10

492,800,000

652,800,000

1,100,800,000

249,600,000

403,200,000

$ 20

2,707,200,000

1,017,600,000

1,068,800,000

2,700,800,000

2,707,200,000

$ 50

N/A

N/A

N/A

102,400,000

211,200,000

$100

N/A

201,600,000

604,800,000

854,400,000

515,200,000

Denomination

FY 2005

FY 2006

FY 2007

FY 2008

FY 2009

$1

3,475,200,000

4,512,000,000

4,147,200,000

3,577,600,000

 

$2

N/A

230,400,000

N/A

N/A

 

$5

576,000,000

800,000,000

1,401,600,000

1,203,200,000

 

$10

512,000,000

851,200,000

83,200,000

1,094,400,000

 

$20

3,059,200,000

889,600,000

1,971,200,000

633,600,000

 

$50

345,600,000

N/A

428,800,000

N/A

 

$100

668,800,000

950,400,000

1,088,000,000

1,209,600,000

 

1894
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) officially took over production of postage stamps 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.

Today
111 years of printing stamps at the BEP came to an end in 2005 when the BEP ceased stamp production. Throughout this 104 year relationship, the BEP continued to improve and update its creation of well crafted, high quality postage stamps.

Over a century of quality could not have been done without the skill, talent, craftsmanship and care that BEP employees put into designing and executing U.S. postage stamps. We are proud of the artistry, skill and dedication that went into each postage stamp. The BEP produced the best stamps possible, assuring that stamps remained secure against counterfeiting as well as aesthetically attractive. Postage stamps were produced by the intaglio and the gravure processes and by a combination of offset and intaglio methods.

The Making of A Stamp
The United States Postal Service gave the BEP orders of stamps to be produced each year. A model was created by the designer using manual and/or computerized techniques. The stamp design, lettering and denominations were manually engraved on a steel master die. Engraved printing sleeves were produced by sidereography. Gravure printing cylinders were electronically engraved, and chromed to protect surface wear during printing. Offset lithographic plates were manufactured by photographic processes. Plate printers printed stamps on intaglio, intaglio/offset, and gravure web presses. Examiners inspected the work for printing defects. Bookbinders perforated and processed into books, sheets, or coils. Production Support Operatives packaged, labeled and verified all products for delivery to vaults. The vaults and shipping department maintained accountability, storage and shipping of stamps to post offices across the nation.
Philatelic Web Sites

www.si.edu/postal/development/postalmuseums.html