the bank note companies

The Bank Note Companies

When governments faced the task of choosing a company to print their postage stamps it was natural to consider those companies that already had experience with the engraving and printing of currency. Thus it is reasonable that most of the stamps of British North America were engraved and printed by one or another of the various bank note companies. Three companies produced the majority of the stamps. These were the American Bank Note Co., the British American Bank Note Co., and the Canadian Bank Note Co. The National Bank Note Co. produduced only one single stamp of Newfoundland.

The American Bank Note Company
of New York

The ABN Co. was the company that engraved and printed the most stamps of British North America. They also handled most South American countries and had the contract for the postage of the United States from 1879 to 1893.

The ABN Co. was probably the most organized of the various firms. They tended to number their dies chronologically and by the 1890's had evolved a system of first producing an 'unhardened' die without a die number, followed by a 'hardened' die with a die number. These practises were passed on to their subsidiary, the Canadian Bank Note Co.

In the 1860's when the ABN Co. was engraving dies and printing stamps for the colonies that would become Canada, they had several practises that were common across the various issues. Die proofs and plate proofs were produced on India paper. The Die Proofs were almost always in Black and the plate proofs were usually in Black, Red, Green, Blue, and Red. This was the period in which the so called 'Goodall' proofs may have been produced. These proofs may also have been prepared together at some later date.

The Canadian Bank Note Company
of Ottawa

The CBN Co. was established as a subsidiary of the ABN in 1922.
It is not certain when they began to actually engrave the dies.
There is some evidence that they produced the Historical issue, and it is possible that they
actually produced the dies for the later Admirals since these issues no longer had the ABN imprint.
It is certain that they produced the dies for all stamps beginning with the Silver Jubillee issue
in 1935.

Chronology of Canadian stamp engraving and printing

Rawdon, Wright, Hatch
one of the firms that formed the ABN in 1858
American Bank Note Company
British American Bank Note Company
Large and Small Queen issues
American Bank Note Company
Canadian Bank Note Company
Historical and Confederation issues
British American Bank Note Company
Scroll to Medallion issues
Canadian Bank Note Company