Special souvenir card marks society’s 40th anniversary
- Published: Oct 11, 2021, 9 AM
The Souvenir Card Collectors Society, the only national organization dedicated to the hobby of souvenir card collecting, is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a commemorative card.
Souvenir cards generally depict a printed replica of a note or postage stamp or similar item.
The society’s founding in 1981 came on the heels of three programs: The Bureau of Engraving and Printing had started its official souvenir card series in 1969; the U.S. Postal Service began consistently issuing cards in the early 1970s; and semi-official cards, mainly from the American Bank Note Co., entered the market soon after. By 1992, the number of official and semi-official cards in numerous categories issued in a single year reached 40.
The SCCS took on the task of cataloging the deluge. While most early souvenir cards were philatelic in theme, by the 1990s cards depicting historic paper currency had captured the interest of numismatic collectors. The society published its numbering system catalog in 1989 and a supplement in 1992; these remain foundational references for collectors. The quarterly Souvenir Card Journal has published more than 160 issues following the latest trends and releases, with historical background and related articles on security engraving.
In 2018, the society began building a comprehensive online library of images, now with more than 25 categories and over 1,600 images, including early forerunners, cards from numerous philatelic and paper money organizations, and engraved cards issued by SCCS chapters and private individuals. These are viewable at www.souvenircards.org/gallery/gallery.html, and discoveries are regularly added.
Currency collectors will find the BEP and Semi-Official galleries of particular interest, with cards featuring historic gold certificates and legal tender notes going back to the Civil War, and obsolete notes from the 1840s and 1850s. Many of these were printed from the original engraved plates. Some issued by the American Numismatic Association and the International Bank Note Society showcase genuine notes attached to the cards.
Since 1991, the SCCS has maintained an annual tradition of creating and distributing special, limited-edition souvenir cards. These are intaglio printed from engraved steel plates and only available to members. This year the organization celebrated its anniversary with the most elaborate annual card to date. The five-color 40th anniversary souvenir cards are entirely engraved and required seven passes through a die-stamping press. Less than 250 were printed.
Four historic vignettes reflect the golden age of the banknote engraver’s art. They include an 1870s scene of a pressman and assistant, engraved by the National Bank Note Co. for the Plate Printers Union, a streetcar from the 1890s, a riverboat scene from the 1880s, and a seated female figure from the 1920s.
Cards are offered as a free premium to all new members. Dues for a one-year membership are $25 and will extend to cover 2022. Members also receive the Souvenir Card Journal and other benefits. A membership form can be downloaded at www.souvenircards.org/join.html or a potential member can contact Greg Alexander, SCCS Secretary, 3081 SW River View Dr., Pendleton, OR 97801.
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