BEP celebrates democracy with intaglio figures on intaglio print

New print to be available Dec. 1, features three allegorical vignettes
By , Coin World
Published : 11/13/15
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The Bureau of Engraving and Printing on Dec. 1 will release a new intaglio print recognizing allegorical female figures “that represent a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The print is titled “Ideals in Allegory — Democracy” and features three allegorical figures, all women. It is produced by the intaglio printing method from engraved plates, which forms raised lines of ink on the paper and forms a three-dimensional effect, and also bears some offset printing elements.

The three vignettes used all are from the BEP archives. 

The vignette at the top left of the print depicts Government. It is cataloged as Miscellaneous Die #14996. The vignette was engraved by William O. Marks in 1940. 

Marks joined the BEP in 1917 as an apprentice. He engraved various stock transfer stamps showing prominent individuals, among other work. He retired from the BEP in 1955.

The seated figure engraved by Marks faces the viewer, her form covered in long robes. A shield is strapped to her left forearm and she holds a rolled-up document in her right hand. The American flag flies behind her. The design is held within an oval frame. Both the frame and vignette are printed in black ink, though only the vignette is intaglio.

The top right vignette depicts Columbia, the personification of America. It was printed from Miscellaneous Die #2349, engraved in 1876 by Charles K. Burt. It was used for a Distilled Spirits for Export Stamp in 1878. ngraver

Burt was born in Scotland in 1823 where he first apprenticed as an engraver at the age of 12. He moved to the United States in 1842 and worked for several security printing firms for years. He was not an employee of the BEP, notes engraver historian Gene Hessler, but he produced engravings for the bureau for 20 years. Among his works appearing on federal paper money is the Baptism of Pocahontas, which is found on certain large-size $20 national bank notes.

Columbia is shown from a perspective slightly behind her left shoulder. Columbia’s face is turned slightly to her left. She wears a starred diadem and is dressed in robes. She holds a staff of some sort in her right hand. This vignette, too, is printed in black ink and is framed.

The largest vignette on the print, at bottom center, is of Diplomacy. The engraving is from Miscellaneous Die #4105, originally an American Bank Note Co. die. It was engraved by Robert Ponickau in 1894. 

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