Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A new page on this blog : Printers

Scripophily, the hobby of collecting and researching antique securities, is blessed with marvellous collectibles. These objects have been produced by all kinds of printing houses, some of them being top notch banknote printers. Others specialized in the printing of artistic posters, or were active as book and newspaper publishers.

Absolutely amazing are the bonds and shares from the B. Sirven company. The detail above is a part from their main vignette, a work made by the artist Luigi Loir. Click the image for more details. 

I went on a discovery tour and checked out the posts from this blog. I searched for printer names that could be recognized from the featured bonds and shares. Much to my surprise I counted over 150 of them.

The B. Sirven printing house originates from a business set up in 1834 by Jean Bernard Sirven in the French city of Toulouse. The company continued through several family generations and excelled in chromolithography. Collectors are after the Belle Époque postcards and posters made by the company. Different bond and shares issues from B. Sirven have similar designs but are produced in different color versions. This 500 francs bond dates from 1911.

You can see the list of the identified printing houses, and the certificates they printed, on the Printers page (hyperlink on top of the site). The world of security printers is a little planet on its own. The list represents only a microscopic fraction of it, but it gives you an idea what's out there. As you'll find out, some printers, like the American Bank Note Company, were extremely productive. 

In many cases scripophily collectors find a reference to a certificate's printing house at or below the bottom edge of the design. You can see an example here. However B. Sirven's certificates do not reveal a printer name. Yet, I believe these certificates were printed on B. Sirven's own presses. There is lots to see, for instance, along the vertical borders, you can spot these small circular elements holding the company's interlaced initials 'BS'. This mini-logo is repeated in all its magnificence in a subtle underprint of abundant scrollwork. Click image to enlarge

I don't recall seeing any other scripophily produced by B. Sirven, the printer who produced the bond illustrated here. Who does? 

Collecting bonds and shares printed by a certain printing house can be a great theme to pursue. You may want to start a side collection of certificates produced by your favorite printer.

Scripophily from the B. Sirven company shows two tiny portraits in the upper corners. Johannes Gutenberg (ca. 1400-1468), on the left, introduced the movable type printing press in Europe. Johann Alois Senefelder (1771-1834), on the right, who is also a German like Gutenberg, invented the printing technique of lithography. Founder Jean Bernard Sirven may have known or heard about Senefelder, a contemporary. By paying tribute to these pioneers, the company showed its investors that it was a legitimate successor in the evolution of printing. 

Do you think that a certificate from a particular printing house is missing in the Printers list ? If so, then email me a high resolution image of the certificate at issue. I'd be happy to include it with an accompanying article on the blog.

F. L. 

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