engraving & printing die
Original engraved steel die for the
1851 essay (Scott Catalogue 11-E2).
Philatelist Clarence W. Brazier
attributed this die to the original engraving/printing firm
federally contracted to produce postage stamps, Rawdon,
Wright, Hatch & Edson. But correspondence between that
firm and Postmaster General N. K. Hall confirms that this was
not the case.
Research by Roy Weber et al. concludes
that Henry Benner of Washington, D.C. was the actual engraver.
He was one of the seven competitors for the 1851 contract
cited in John Marron's 1857 documentation of the bidding
Not only does Benner stand out as the
obvious candidate because the background shading was produced
by a ruling machine, rather than the typical geometric lathe
used by bank note engravers. [The remaining competitors were
all bank note engraving firms whose work never featured this
vignette of George Washington and whose archives especially that of the American Bank Note Company never
held the die.] But meticulous genealogical research has proved
the family relationship of all names associated with this
collection of objects [Henry and Edwin Benner, Samuel Tiller]
and the provenance of the die.