Souvenir cards affordable way to collect rare notes
- Published: May 24, 2016, 4 AM
If a collector mentions souvenir cards from coin shows, you probably think of American Numismatic Association conventions and the special commemorative cards printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing — and you would be half right! The problem — or challenge — is that virtually every statement you can make about them has a “but” attached.
Most of the cards were printed by the Bureau of Engraving & Printing — but many were also printed by the American Bank Note Co. and some by smaller printers.
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Many of the cards were printed for ANA summer conventions (now known as the World’s Fair of Money) — but some were printed for the ANA’s Mid-Year Conventions (a.k.a. a half dozen other official and unofficial names) starting in 1980.
Most of the cards printed for ANA conventions were prepared by the BEP — but ABNCo. also prepared special souvenir cards for ANA conventions starting in 1979.
Most of the souvenir cards printed for the ANA were “mass produced” (meaning they were available in large quantities) — but the BEP also printed limited edition proofs (with different designs) on its spider press taken to ANA Conventions starting in 1984.
Many of the souvenir cards were sold at the coin or stamp show they commemorate?— but many were also sold by mail order or at the BEP facility in Washington, D.C. Some of these can be easily spotted, as they bear stamps or a “postal” cancellation denoting location. They can be a challenging sub-collection for the specialist who enjoys the quest.
Sound confusing? Only a little — and this is a most rewarding hobby if you enjoy visiting coin (or stamp) shows, collecting paper currency and vignettes, being able to complete a diverse collection (with many cards selling between $5 and $15), a modern tradition with roots more than a century old, and cross-over collecting with philatelic themes.
Background of Modern Cards
The modern era of souvenir cards started in 1969, when the BEP printed a special card for the SANDIPEX Stamp Show (featuring three scenes from Washington, D.C.). These new souvenir cards were a blend of several concepts, some old and some new:
(1) Bank note engraving companies, starting in the early 1800s, printed proof specimens on card stock (as well as on bank note paper and “India” paper); these proofs were rarely encountered until the ABNCo. archives were dispersed late in the Twentieth Century). (2) Postage stamp proofs were likewise produced. (3) In the 1930s and 1940s, the BEP produced many souvenir stamp sheets (on thin paper) for collectors and show attendees. If you are old enough to remember Ye Olde Stamp & Coin Shoppe, you have almost certainly seen some of these from the International Philatelic Exhibition, Chicago Century of Progress, Yosemite, and perhaps the most often encountered — the visit of the Philatelic Truck! (4) In 1951, a souvenir card was produced by/for the International Plate Printers, Die Stampers and Engravers Union (1893 to 1951) of North America.
The 1969 SANDIPEX issue was cataloged as B1 in the (regrettably out-of-print) 1989 reference Souvenir Card Collectors Society Numbering System for Forerunner and Modern Day Souvenir Cards.
It was soon followed by B2, printed by the BEP for the 1969 ANA convention in Philadelphia — and for most numismatists, the first souvenir card encountered. The B2 card featured three views (one large, two small) of the “Jackass” eagle vignette from the $10 U.S. notes of Series 1869, 1875, 1878 and 1880. For many coin collectors, this was also an introduction into some of the more intriguing aspects of currency design.
Educational Note cards a hit with collectors
In a stroke of inspired marketing, many of the BEP cards prepared for the following ANA Conventions featured the exquisite designs of the 1896 “Educational Note” silver certificates: the $1, $2, and $5 notes, and the proposed $10 note. Many collectors had never seen the $10 note before, and a magnificent proof printing on card stock could be had for a pocket change.
Cards may be found uncanceled (Mint), canceled at the show (postmarked, usually from philatelic shows but sometimes coin shows), or canceled at the BEP Visitor Center (either pictorial cancels or Washington, D.C. circular date stamps). You could collect any of these “proof states,” but most collectors take the cards as they find them.
The success of the souvenir cards with collectors soon resulted in special cards being prepared by the BEP for the International Paper Money Show (sometimes simply known by the name of its host city in Tennessee: “Memphis”). 1987 saw two cards issued, one a variant of the BEP’s 125th Anniversary card also offered at other shows with different embossed seals.
Program expands to additional shows
The success of the BEP in selling cards at the ANA and IPMS conventions naturally led to cards being printed for other numismatic shows and events. During these first two decades, the BEP printed cards for shows hosted by the Florida United Numismatists and Great Eastern Numismatic Association, for the Long Beach Expo, and for a host of smaller shows.
In addition to the souvenir cards listed above, the BEP began to bring its spider press to the conventions as an educational exhibit — and sold special proof printings with a design differing from the official card. These spider press proofs (typically 50 or so in count) were sold at the show; in the aftermarket, they are for collectors who enjoy a challenge to locate and buy. Spider press proofs, printed in small numbers, (or prints) will often cost in the $200 to $500 range when located.
Returning to the ANA and the BEP, their relationship concerning souvenir cards was complicated. In 1979, the ANA also began selling cards at its conventions printed by the American Bank Note Co. Echoing a theme seen earlier, the first ABNCo.-produced Card was made for SIPEX 1966 — a stamp show. ABNCo.’s first numismatic card was produced for the Society of Paper Money Collectors in 1979. Also as seen with the BEP cards, ABNCo. Cards may be found Mint, or show canceled (with stamps and postal cancellation from the event).
Below you will find lists for the four main card types issued during the first 20 years of the modern card era, 1969 to 1988. Both the BEP and ABNCo. also produced numerous specialty cards not associated with coin or stamp shows, such as 1987’s commemorative card for the BEP’s Western Currency Production Facility in Fort Worth, Texas, or special events held by the ANA.
Souvenir cards were printed by large organizations and small, for conventions large and small, for special events, for special anniversaries, and for special people.
Inexpensive way to collect rare ‘notes’
Collecting souvenir cards is perhaps the most inexpensive way to assemble a superb collection of numismatic proof specimens, many from original masters or dies. And, it is a collection that can take you in many directions, with memories of many cities. Watch for meetings of the Souvenir Card Collectors Society at major conventions — they love visitors.
If you want to get your collection started before the next show, visit the BEP’s online store at www.moneyfactorystore.gov to see if they have any for sale; hundreds can be found online being sold by dealers and collectors, on eBay and firm websites.
And for those collectors who do not live by coins, paper money, or postage alone, I’ll mention that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing also started a series of souvenir duck stamp cards in 1987; another collecting specialty!
The two reference works for souvenir cards are both out of print: Souvenir Card Collectors Society Numbering System for Forerunner and Modern Day Souvenir Cards, published in 1989, and Mellone’s Photo Encyclopedia of Souvenir Cards, by Howard C. Tiffner. Watch for these at your used-book stores.
What follows is a list of cards by category:
BEP Souvenir Cards for ANA Conventions (attributed to SCCS #)
- B2 ANA 1969 (Philadelphia): Vignette of "Jackass" eagle
- B7 ANA 1970 (St. Louis): Multicolor currency collage
- B12 ANA 1971 (Washington, D.C.): Face of 1896 $1 “Educational” silver certificate
- B18 ANA 1972 (New Orleans): Face of 1896 $2 “Educational” silver certificate
- B24 ANA 1973 (Boston): Face of 1896 $5 “Educational” silver certificate
- B29 ANA 1974 (Bal Harbor): Face of proposed 1896/7 $10 “Educational” silver certificate
- B32 ANA 1975 (Los Angeles): Back of 1896 $1 “Educational” silver certificate
- B38 ANA 1976 (NYC): Back of 1896 $2 “Educational” silver certificate
- B41 ANA 1977 (Atlanta): Face of 1899 $5 “Onepapa" silver certificate
- B46 ANA 1980 (Mid-Year, Albuquerque): Back of 1896 $5 “Educational” silver certificate
- B54 ANA 1981 (New Orleans): Back of 1886 $5 “Silver Dollar” silver certificate
- B57 ANA 1982 (Boston): Great Seal vignettes
- B61 ANA 1983 (San Diego): Back of Series 1915 $20 national bank note
- B71 ANA 1984 (Detroit): Face of 1882 $500 gold certificate
- B82 ANA 1985 (Baltimore): Back of 1882 $500 gold certificate
- B88 ANA 1986 (Mid-Year, Salt Lake City): Back of 1901 $10 United States note with “Progress” vignette
- B94 ANA 1986 (Milwaukee): Face of Second issue 5¢ fractional note
- B101B BEP 125th, ANA (Mid-Year, Charlotte) 1987: Embossed seal
- B101E BEP 125th, ANA 1987 (Atlanta): Embossed seal
- B103 ANA 1987 (Mid-Year, Charlotte): Face of $500 million Treasury note
- B106 ANA 1987 (Atlanta): Back of 1886 $2 silver certificate
- B114 ANA 1988 (Mid-Year, Little Rock): Face of 1882 $10,000 gold certificate
- B116 ANA 1988 (Cincinnati): Back of 1918 $2 Federal Reserve Bank note, featuring battleship vignette
BEP Souvenir Cards for IPMS (Memphis) Conventions (attributed to SCCS #)
- B44 International Paper Money Show, Memphis, 1978: Vignette of DeSoto's Discovery of the Mississippi River, from the Back of the 1863 $10 First Charter national bank note
- B47 IPMS 1980 (Memphis): Face of 1901 $10 “Bison” United States note
- B53 IPMS 1981 (Memphis): Face of 1905 $20 “Technicolor” gold certificate
- B56 IPMS 1982 (Memphis): Back of 1882 $100 Brown Back national bank note
- B69 IPMS 1984 (Memphis): Face of 1878 $10,000 United States note
- B81 IPMS 1985 (Memphis): Back of Series 1878 $10,000 United States note
- B93 IPMS 1986 (Memphis): Back of Series 1902 $5 Date Back national bank note
- B101D BEP 125th, IPMS 1987: Embossed seal
- B105 IPMS 1987 (Memphis): Back of 1922 $20 gold certificate
- B115 IPMS 1988 (Memphis): Back of 1899 $5 silver certificate
BEP Souvenir Cards Printed for conventions other than ANA & IPMS (attributed to SCCS #)
- B3 Fresno Numismatic Society 1969: Three Washington, D.C., images
- B31 International Womens Year 1975: Face of 1886 $1 Martha Washington silver certificate
- B35 Interphil program 1976: Independence Hall vignette from back $100 Federal Reserve note
- B59 FUN 1983: Back of 1890 $100 “Watermelon” Treasury note
- B64 FUN 1984: Back of 1880 $1 “Sawhorse” United States note
- B75 Long Beach 1985: Back of Series 1865 $20 gold certificate; 1948 3¢ California Gold stamp
- B77 International Coin Club of El Paso 1985: Back of 1902 $50 Plain Back national bank note
- B79 Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association 1985: Back of Series 1914 $50 Federal Reserve note
- B84 IPMC 1985 (Cherry Hill): Face of 1882 $10 national bank note
- B87 FUN 1986: Face of 1890 $100 (Farragut) Treasury note
- B98 Long Beach Stamp Club 1986: Face of 1907 $10 gold certificate; four Trans-Mississippi stamps
- B99 National World Paper Money Convention 1986: Fractional currency collage
- B100 DCSE 1986: Back of 1918 $10,000 Federal Reserve note
- B101A BEP 125th, FUN 1987 blindstamped
- B101F BEP 125th, GENA 1987: Embossed seal
- B102 FUN 1987: Face of 1874 $1 United States note
- B104 Fort Worth WCF 1987: Face of 1902 $5 national bank note
- B108 GENA 1987: Back of 1907 $10 gold certificate
- B111 HSNA 1987 (Honolulu): Face of 1923 $5 Lincoln “Porthole” silver certificate
- B112 FUN 1988: Face of Fifth issue 50¢ Fractional note
- B119 ILNA 1988: Back of 1915 $10 Federal Reserve note
BEP Spider Press proofs printed at numismatic conventions (attributed to SCCS #)
- B65 FUN 1984 proof: Eagle on rock vignette (brown)
- B70 IPMS 1984 proof: Eagle on rock vignette (blue)
- B72 ANA 1984 proof: Eagle on rock vignette (green)
- B78 International Coin Club of El Paso 1985 proof: Statue of Liberty vignettes (maroon/gray)
- B83 ANA 1985 proof: Statue of Liberty vignettes (green/blue)
- B85-86 IPMC 1985 proof: Liberty Bell vignette (blue)
- B95-96 ANA 1986 proof: Liberty Bell vignette (brown)
- B109 GENA 1987 proof: State shields (brown)
- B113 FUN 1988 proof: State shields (green)
- B117 ANA 1988 proof: State shields (blue)
Numismatic Souvenir Cards printed by ABNCo. & Others, 1969 to 1988
- SO9 SPMC (Society of Paper Money Collectors) 1979: Face of $2 Liberty Bank of Providence, R.I., obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO10 ANA 1979 (St. Louis): Face $10 Exchange Bank of St. Louis obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO11 SPMC 1980: Face of $100 Bank of Lebanon, N.H., obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO12 ANA 1980 (Cincinnati): Face of $3 Bank of the Ohio Valley, Ohio, obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO13 Bank Note Reporter 1980: Face $3 Bank of Kansas — Atchison, Kan., obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO14 ANA 1981 (Mid-Year, Honolulu): Face of 1895/6 $5 Republic of Hawaii silver certificate (ABNCo.)
- SO15 SPMC 1981: Face of $50 Bank of Selma, Ala., obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO16 Interpam 1981: Face of $1 Grenville Bank (Canada) and $2 Cataract City, N.J., obsolete notes (ABNCo.)
- SO17 ANA 1981: Face $5000 Canal Bank of New Orleans obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO18 ANA Building Fund 1981: Face of $10 Artisan Bank of Trenton, N.J., obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO19 Currency Club of Chester County, Pa., 1981: Glossy proof of SO20 and SO21 design (United States Bank Note Co.)
- SO20 CCCC 1981 (green): Four currency related vignettes (USBNC)
- SO21 CCCC 1981 (brown): Four currency related vignettes (USBNC)
- SO22 FUN 1982 (Orlando): Face of 1859 $10 Bank of St. Johns, Fla., obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO23 ANA 1982 (Mid-Year): Face of certificate of deposit, Bank of Ruby City, Colo. (ABNCo.)
- SO24 SPMC 1982 (Memphis): Face of 1866 $1 City of Baton Rouge, La., obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO25 ANA 1982: Face of $3 Tremont Bank of Boston obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO32 ANA 1983 (Mid-Year): Face of $1 Lord and Williams, Ariz., scrip (ABNCo.)
- SO33 SPMC 1983 (Memphis): Face of $2 White Mountain Bank, Lancaster, N.H., obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO34 ANA 1983: Face of $100 Banking House of F. Argenti and Co., San Francisco obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO35 ANA 1984 (Mid-Year): "Bird's eye view of Denver" from Colorado national bank advertising card (ABNCo.)
- SO36 CPMS 1984: Face of $4 City of Toronto obsolete note (CBNC)
- SO37 SPMC 1984: Face of $100 State of Indiana obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO38 Statue of Liberty vignette (ABNCo.)
- SO39 ANA 1984: Face of $10 Michigan State Bank obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO40 FUN 1985: Face of $10 Bank of Commerce, Fernandina, Fla., obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO41 ANA 1985 (Mid-Year): Face of $3 Commerce and Agricultural Bank of Texas in Galveston obsolete note (ABNCo.)
- SO42 NATD 1985: Six tobacco tax stamps and vignette (ABNCo.)
- SO43 SPMC-IBNS 1986: Statue of Liberty vignette and hologram (ABNCo.)
- SO53 INS 1987: Folder with Bartholdi Statue vignette card (ABNCo.)
- SO54 200th Anniversary of Constitution: Six portraits of signers (blue) (ABNCo.)
- SO55 Constitution rejected design: Similar, but in black (ABNCo.)
- SO57 ANA1987 (Atlanta): Face of 1895/6 $10 Republic of Hawaii silver certificate (ABNCo.)
- SO58 NWPMC 1987: Face of 1895/6 $20 Republic of Hawaii silver certificate (ABNCo.)
- SO60 IPMS 1988: Face of 1895/6 $50 Republic of Hawaii silver certificate (ABNCo.)
- SO61 ANA 1988 (Cincinnati): Face of 1895/6 $100 Republic of Hawaii silver certificate (ABNCo.)
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