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S C OT T'S MO N T H L Y IIIIIlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
J O U R N A L
violet . . . . . . . . .25
Cat. Pr. Net Pr.
brown . . . . . . . . . . 25. “ 15c on 24a bistre . . .40 ZAMBESIA 1894 10r red violet . . . . .30 “ 15r chocolate . . . . . .35 “ 20r lavender . . . . . . .45 “ 25r blue green . . . . .60 “. 75r carmine . . . . . . 1.50 1902 400r on 50r light blue . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.00 “ 400r on 100r brown buff . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.00 “ 400r on 200r blue on blue . . . . . . . . 1.00 1915 50r blue . . . . . . . . . . .10
“ 50r on 65r dull blue .75 1917 115r orange brown
on pink . . . . . . . . 1.50 “ 130r b row n on Straw . . . . . . . . . . . 1.00
SCOTT’S MONTHLY JOURNAL 21 lllllllllllllllllllllIllIIIIllllllllIIllIllIIIIIlllllIIIIIIIllllllllllllllllllllllllIIIllIIIIIIIIllIllIIllllllIIIIIIIllllllllllllllllllllllllIllIIIllIIIIIIllIlllllIIIIIlllIIIIIllllIIIIIIIIIllIIllIIIIIllIIIIllllllllllllllllllllllllll
Through the Bureau of Engraving e
By Harold F. Whittaker
(Editorial Note: Washington workshop nually.
Here is an “inside story" of what goes on in Uncle Sam's _ where some billions of Mr. Whittaker spent some weeks assembling and
postal adhesives are manufactured anputting together these facts for
this article for Scott’s Monthly JOURNAL and he has told his story without that superflous
technical detail which often confuses rather than reveals.
It may be
stated that this manuscript has been read and approved by W. Irving Glover, Third Assis
tant Postmaster General; Louis A. Hill, Director of mg, and John T. Guilfoyle, Superintendent of the Engraving Division of how our conntry’s stamps are made might be given
in order that a correct account of
the Bureau of Engraving and Printthe Bureau—
here to the philatelists of the c0untry.—K. B. S.)
ANY of us have wished that we could visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing where our money, bonds, stamps and other engraved securities are made. If we were in Washington and were fortunate enough to have some time to devote to an inspection of this interesting place, it is almost inevitable that we as philatelists wouldvbe disappointed after having taken the trip with the regular guide. The total time consumed in following the guide through the divisions where the various engraved work is done, rarely exceeds twenty minutes. Thevisitors view the operations from a gallery which is about half-way between the working floors, and consequently they see everything from a distance. ‘
But since we are philatelists, we prefer the magnifying glass to the telescope. We have many questions to ask which we do not want the guides officially to turn aside with the excuse that they do not know. VVe want to see the various operations performed close at hand.
Realizing this, we have prevailed upon the courteous director of the Bureau, Louis A. Hill, to let us browse around leisurely and see the operations close at hand. We are going to spend all of our time in the divisions of the Bureau where our postage stamps are made and will visit the various divisions in such an order that we may
observe their development from the orig- '
We will group the operations, as the Bureau does, in the following manner, and will visit each operation in turn:
I. Engraving the original die and hardening it for use.
2. Making the transfer roll.
3 Transferring to the steel plates. 4 Printing the stamps.
5. The gumming division.
6. Perforating and finishing.
7. Manufacturing of booklets.
8. Rotary press operation.
9. Perforation of rotary stamps. 10. Making the coils.
II. Rotary press sheets.
The first three processes are the same for the flat plates and the rotary press plates. The steps numbered 4-6 refer only to the flat plate process. The manufacture of booklets includes the first five processes, after which a separate treatment of their itinerary must be given. The printing and finishing of the rotary press stamps is to be given separate treatment because several of the operations are accomplished at one time and cannot be conveniently grouped with the above.
The Engraving Division OUR first visit is to the office of Iohn
T. Guilfoyle, the superintendent of the
engraving division. He shows us a unique collection of proofs mounted or interleafed in several albums. Each of these proofs contains the signature of the Postmaster General of the United States, signifying that the prospective stamp has met with his approval. There are also many other proofs to be seen, some of them enlarged to several times the size of an ordinary stamp. Proofs of the stamp in several colors and with various combinations of the frame and the portrait or picture are also to be seen.
22 SCOTT’S MONTHLY JOURNAL llllllIllllIlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllIlllllllllllIlllIlllllllllllllIIllllllllllIllllllIIllIIllllllIIIlllllllllllllllllllIlllIllllllIlllIllllllIlllIllIIllllllllllIllIllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllIIlllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
We praise a man who can take a pencil or pen and copy a picture or portrait so that the finished drawing looks like the original. Even the best of them will have to resort to erasure and alteration, particularly if the drawing be a small one.
Imagine, then, the credit to be given to the man who must cut a portrait in steel so that the likeness will be absolute in spite of the fact that the face is no larger than the cross-section of a lead pencil!
The man is called an engraver, but his true title is “artist”. Every stroke of the engraving tool must be the correct one, for once the mark is made it is there to stay.
We see a large number of these engravers at work at their peculiar hooded desks
which are lighted through a white screen.
to prevent glare. One man specializes in numerals, another in scrolls, another in letters, another in portraits, others in vignettes. Each does his own part in making the original die a work of art in steel. This is all the more difficult because the picture must be engraved as a mirror image of the final stamp.
The block of steel in which original dies are engraved is smaller than the palm of your hand. Where a series of stamps is to be engraved with a similar frame for all portraits, a frame die is made and hardened as if it were a completed die. A transfer roll is then made and hardened, and the frame is transferred to several original die blocks to avoid duplication of work.
When the engraving is finished, we sec the engraver remove the rough surface or bu'rr from the die by means of a safety razor blade or scraper, after which it is taken to the heat-treating room to be hardened. Here it is placed in a bath of cyanide, to remain until the steel surface has been properly enriched with carbon. The process is one of case-hardening which sets the engraved markings so that they will withstand the enormous pressures of the transfer press without losing their definition. After the hardening process is complete, the dies are cleaned and are ready for use in making the transfer rolls.
The Transfer Roll
THE transfer roll reminds us a great <deal of a rolling pin, the more so since it is used in exactly the same manner as the
latter is in the kitchen. It differs from a rolling pin in that the central cylindrical portion is very much narrower with respect to its total width. The roll is equipped with a steel mandrel which is driven in tightly through a hole in the center of the roll, giving the appearance of heavy handles that will withstand the pressure which the transfer press exerts upon them.
The central portion of the roll is a trifle wider than the height of the stamp to be made. The hardened die is placed on the flat bed of the transfer press and the soft steel roll is placed on the engraved surface. A foot pedal is then pressed by the operator, which exerts pressure upon the two arms of the transfer roll. This is accomplished by means of a system of levers and fulcrums which greatly compound the pressure on the split jaws which rest on the mandrel. A hand lever then enables the split jaws bearing on the mandrel to move backward and forward, giving the transfer roll a motion similar to that of a rolling pin.
The soft steel of the roll is pressed into every little marking of the master die, and the result is a “relief" of all the engraving on the die—in other words, an “opposite" to the engraving on the die.
This “roll” is hardened and is then used to “roll in", stamp by stamp, making the large plates from which the sheets of stamps are printed. The original die is always kept in reserve. The markings on the roll are raised to correspond with the colored portion of the postage stamp-to-be. Four or five impressions of the die are taken around the central portion of the roll so that, if one of the impressions is damaged in handling, it will not necessitate making a new roll. The roll is then case-hardened and heat-treated as was the master die.
Making the Plates
FIVE different types of plates are used for making our stamps. These are: I. The normal 400-subject plate for the fiat bed press. 2. The I70-subject sidewise coil plate for the small rotary presses. 3. The I50-subject endwise coil plate for the small rotary presses. 4. The bookletplate of 360 subjects. 5. The 400-subject plate for the large rotary presses.