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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 29, July 18, 2010, Article 22

ARTICLE PROFILES FORMER B.E.P. ENGRAVER THOMAS HIPSCHEN

I had the pleasure of meeting Tom Hispchen many years ago when he and money artist J.S.G. Boggs came to a Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists show to speak to the young numismatists about their work. Nice guy - I had him autograph some examples of his banknotes. He's retired now, and this article from Bellevue, Iowa profiles his carwer. -Editor

Thomas Hipschen Hipschen has engraved the portraits of Benjamin Franklin, Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln on U.S. currency.

For 38 years, Hipschen, a Bellevue, Iowa, native, worked as a banknote picture engraver for the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The United States Stamp Society acknowledges him as being recognized worldwide as the finest U.S. picture engraver.

"People are amazed that someone still living can do something so archaic," Hipschen said jokingly. "It's very laborious, and now there are so many easier ways to make images that most people would never spend the time to do it."

Picture engravers use etching and engraving techniques to make portraits, landscapes and other designs in steel and copper dies, with a manner and style designed to prevent counterfeiting.

At 17, and after taking only one art class in high school, Hipschen stumbled upon a job working for the bureau in Virginia as part of a 10-year apprenticeship.

I had interviewed once already for the job, and they called me back for a second interview," he said. "I didn't want to go, but my dad talked me into it. I didn't realize that when I got there, they had already hired me."

With only a suitcase full of clothes, Hipschen accepted the position.

He has engraved more than 130 bureau-produced postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, and engraved the official portraits of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

To read the complete article, see: His art is right on the money (www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=289488)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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