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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 30, July 23, 2006, Article 20

BEP CURRENCY ENGRAVER CHRISTOPHER MADDEN PROFILED

The Dayton Daily news published a nice article this week about
the city native who work for the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and
Printing:

"When Christopher D. Madden sits down to engrave the images
emblazoned on the nation's cash, he sits between centuries of
tradition and the promise of technology.

On one side of him are steel-edged tools, steel plates, aged
magnifying glasses and antiquated equipment that Madden uses
to painstakingly engrave pictures of presidents and luminaries,
federal buildings and their environs.

On the other side are two computers, set side-by-side. With those,
he uses a proprietary program to add dashes and lines to a currency
design to make that currency harder to counterfeit and easier to
print."

For years, Madden was told he was part of a dying breed  the master
craftsmen who spend 10 years in apprenticeship, learning the fine,
detailed art of faithfully etching images into steel.

Now, the bureau has plans to hire two new apprentices in the coming
months."

"Reminders of the past shape Madden's work.

He keeps on his desk an album of some of the great engravings done
at the office  detailed, elegant work by artists history has
forgotten. Madden often flips through the book to study how others
handled particular challenges.

Next to that book, Madden keeps a photo album of the artists 
sometimes imperious-looking men in black-and-white photos who toiled
to create the art people handle casually each day."

"Reminders of his grandfather's coal mining trade linger, as well.

For many years, others in the engraving bureau used cyanide to help
make the plates for the currency. And just like workers in coal mines,
they used live canaries to determine the safety of their work
environment.

Now, safer methods are used and the office canaries are simply
workplace pets."

"He was the bureau's last apprentice until this newest crop. An
elder engraver frequently told Madden he was a dying breed.

"I'm going to try not to say that to the next generation," Madden
said. "This job will stay around in some form, and there's always
going to be an appreciation for the American masters who came
before us."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[I don't recall reading about the use of cyanide and the tradition
of canaries at the BEP.  Has anyone else heard of this before?  Do
I need to go back and read my BEP history books?  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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