Notes from the Past

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) came into existence on August 29, 1862, when two men and four women, working in an attic of the main Treasury building in Washington, D.C., began overprinting the Treasury seal and signatures of the Register of the Treasury and the Treasurer of the United States on $1 and $2 notes that had been privately printed under contract.

An Act of July 11, 1862, had authorized the Treasury Department to have notes, or portions of them, printed at the department and to obtain necessary equipment and personnel.

The functions of private contractors were gradually absorbed until the Act. of March 3, 1877, provided that the work of producing notes, bonds, and other securities should be done at the Treasury Department, as long as it could be done as cheaply and perfectly as possible.

Though the BEP had produced revenue stamps much earlier and on two occasions had printed postage stamps, it began to produce all US postage stamps on July 1, 1894.

Since then, with some exceptions, the BEP has printed all US postage stamps, plus those of US possessions.

Now the BEP claims to be the world's largest securities manufacturing operation.  It employs 3,300 people and is in operation 24 hours a day.  The BEP is housed in two specially built buildings in Washington, D.C., with a total floor area of some 24 acres.

The main building is located at 14th and C Streets in Washington and tours are provided. 


- Kenneth A. Wood
This is Philately - Volume One A-F
Van Dahl Publications 1982
Posted November 15, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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