Engraved Treasure: Auction of Money Printer's Historic Archives The discoveries in a New Jersey warehouse are "like opening King Tut's tomb" for antique collectors. The treasure trove is from the historic archives of the American Bank Note Company.
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - (Wolfeboro, New Hampshire) -- After months of research by experts in New Hampshire, the first 158 items from a 200-ton, one-of-a-kind treasure trove of 19th and 20th century American history will be offered for sale in an unprecedented public auction in Denver, Colorado, August 11, 2006.
Researchers at American Numismatic Rarities in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire (www.ANRcoins.com) have been cataloging, one-by-one, the first group from thousands of intricately engraved steel plates and dies from the archives of the American Bank Note Co. The engraved plates, each one unique and distinctively different from the next, were used more than a century ago for printing paper money, postage stamps, stock certificates, bonds and even admission tickets to political conventions. They've been stored the past several years in a secured, inconspicuous North-Central New Jersey warehouse.
"It's like opening King Tut's tomb for antique collectors. There are still traces of century-old ink on some of these rare printing plates. This is just the tip of the iceberg because there literally are still tons of unique items that remain to be examined," said Q. David Bowers of American Numismatic Rarities.
The firm will conduct the first in series of public auctions of the archives starting with the sale of 158 items at the Warwick Denver Hotel on August 11. Future auctions are planned for New York City and elsewhere.
"No other treasure like this has ever been offered before because no comparable archive was ever assembled," said Bowers.
The antique printing plates dating back to the 1820's are potentially worth millions today to collectors and historians. John Albanese, of Archival Collectibles LLC (www.ArchivalCollectibles.com) of Far Hills, New Jersey purchased the remarkable metal memorabilia from the company for an undisclosed price in 2004.
"American Bank Note was the dominant force in creating designs and printing paper money from the second half of the 19th century to the early 20th century. The printing plates and rollers in these archives are one-of-a-kind pieces of artistic history, used for creating Gold Rush-era bank notes, postage stamps and thousands of stock certificates, tickets and engraved invitations," said Bowers who is completing work on a reference book about the obsolete paper money printed with these plates.
"Many of the printing plates have wonderfully ornate engravings of presidents and other historical figures, goddesses, cherubs and American scenes. After being used, the plates were wrapped in paper printed with the particular engraving on the plate or marked with crayon notations on the paper, and then essentially untouched, in some cases, for 150 years. It's very exciting to open a package that was sealed in 1845 or 1858! The research possibilities are immense."
The upcoming auction features plates used for printing now-obsolete money, including unusual $3 denomination notes, in the 1800's on behalf of long-closed banks across the country, and 19th century stock certificates for railroads and mining companies.
"In addition to creating a reference book about the material, we’re exhibiting some of the printing plates at collectors’ shows around the country, and we’ll donate