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GregAlex

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Reply with quote  #1 
As a teaser for a new category coming soon to the SCCS photo gallery, I thought I'd post some of the images of spider press souvenir cards that I've been accumulating. These are, without question, the rarest type of cards, as they were only sold by lottery at major coin and stamp shows, in very limited numbers.

Starting in the late 1980s, the Bureau of Engraving & Printing, as well as the American Bank Note Company (for a shorter time), began bringing their antique spider presses to shows to demonstrate how intaglio printing works. The BEP still does this at two or three shows a year. At first, the cards being raffled were actually printed at the shows, but to allow adequate drying time they began printing these cards in advance. Almost all are numbered and signed by the pressman who printed them.

Spider press cards are sometimes referred to as hand-pulled proofs, but although they may be printed by hand, they really can't be considered "proofs" since they were intended for public distribution, not as engraving samples. Except in a few cases, the designs match the standard-issue cards, often differing only by the ink color, paper size, or addition of an embossed seal. Consequently, most were given the catalog number of the standard card with an "A" suffix.

The ABNC cards are some of the rarest -- the first year (1989) only three numbered cards were produced for the IPMS show and five for the ANA show.

SO-82A - 75 printed
SO-82A.jpg 
SO-107 - quantity unknown (less than 100)
SO-105A.jpg 
SO-136A - 100 printed
SO-136A.jpg 
SO-146A - 20 printed
SO-146A.jpg   
SO-147A - 20 printed
SO-147A.jpg 

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GregAlex

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Reply with quote  #2 
The three BEP hand-pulled spider press cards in 1989 were given individual catalog numbers because they had different designs than the intaglio prints that year.

B-123 - 41 printed
B-123.jpg 

B-128 - 30 printed
B-128.jpg 

B-131 - 30 printed (estimate)
B-131.jpg 

B-141A - quantity unknown (50 or less)
B-141A.jpg 

B-157A - quantity unknown (50 or less)
B-157A.jpg 

B-180A - 50 printed
B-180A.jpg 

B-200A - quantity unknown (60 or less)
B-200A.jpg 

B-218 - 120 printed (estimate)
This is the only other hand-pulled card given an individual catalog number, as it was specifically designed for the show.
B-218.jpg 

B-244A - quantity unknown (100 or less)
B-244A.jpg 

B-274A - 50 printed
B-274A.jpg 

B-296A - 100 printed
B-296A.jpg 

B-316A - 40 printed
B-316A.jpg 

B-327A - 33 printed
B-327A.jpg 

B-330A - 33 printed
B-330A.jpg 

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mikelaw

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Reply with quote  #3 
Nice. Looking forward to seeing more. Especially like the Mike Bean cards.
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asp1946

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for this sample.  For years I only collected the cards that was at the location paying no more than $50. I have purchased a few in the last four years from an agent.   I have two favorites. One is B 123 the "weeping Indian" at FUN in 1989. The plate printer was Tammy Beals, one of the few if only certified female plate printers at the BEP.  This may have been the only time she was sent out to represent the BEP, so her signature is "rare."  But maybe not so desirable.  At the show she was to make 10 cards each on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and five on Sunday for a total of 35.  On one of those days a mistake was made on the numbers drawn for the sale. She had to make two extra cards because the numbers were drawn and promised, so there are 37 of those cards.   There are no official records kept on this at the BEP, so this is anecdotal history.

The second card is B 218 with the first two US postal issues of Franklin and Washington.  The card was at the international show in San Francisco. I was there and REALLY wanted one of these cards.  The drawings were well attended because of the number of Asians who attended the show.  The Mint was next door, and they were buying uncut sheets and lucky number serial numbers. The Treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow was there signing her autograph on bills and uncut sheets.  I was there for every drawing, but was not lucky. In desperation I finally paid $75 to my friend  Maurice who was editor of Stamp Collector and not a collector, but who was lucky to win.

The BEP has held these drawings for over 30 years, and I am guessing there are dozens of stories like mine. I know of one who would pay up to $200 just to get card #1. Another aimed to get card #2. My friend John Parker has been an agent in scores of these deals. Keep working to publicize this collectible.
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GregAlex

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks for responding -- and this is some really interesting information! You'll be happy to know that the Spider Press category is now in place on the SCCS website:
http://www.souvenircards.org/gallery/Spider/spider.html
This has all the card images and data that I've been able to compile on these cards, so far. Take a look at and if you can supply any additional images or update the data, send me a private message.

The print number for B-123 was published in an early SC Journal; I'll have to go back and see how they came up with 41.

I was also at Pacific 97 but did not get one of the cards, either. I remember thinking they were overpriced at the time and I was too impatient to wait it out at all the raffles -- now I wish I had! Do you recall how many cards were sold at that event? I have an estimate of 120, but that's more of a guess.

John Parker has stories galore about these cards from various shows.
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asp1946

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Reply with quote  #6 
That number 41 may be right with 10 each day. But the extra 1 confirms the basic story of the miscount.



Pacific 97 was 8 days at 10 per day is my guess, but I don’t remember. I was just glad to get one. One reason that I was willing to pay $75 was that I won a drawing at Canada with their lottery for their new Chinese New Year sheet. I won and sold mine which gave me money to justify paying extra for the Bureau card.

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Steve in Tampa

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Reply with quote  #7 
Beautiful cards Greg, thanks for sharing.
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oklahomadanny

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Reply with quote  #8 
Been going over some threads and have a question. I went to the spider press page and didn't see the 2014 Defenders of Freedom card made at FUN show.
**************************************
Nevermind, [redface]  went thru our old PM's and seen it was the B-309A card. For some reason I thought it was pulled at the FUN show. [confused]

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GregAlex

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oklahomadanny
...went thru our old PM's and seen it was the B-309A card. For some reason I thought it was pulled at the FUN show. [confused]


It's possible there were other spider press cards from 2014. I'm not confident that I've captured all of them for every year. If anyone spots one that isn't listed be sure to let me know.
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