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ROBERT LEUVER ON SECRET BANKNOTE PRINTING OPERATIONSE-Sylum reader Bob Leuver was the head of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, responsible for the printing of all U.S. paper currency. The story about the company supplying Zimbabwe with banknote paper reminded him of other rogue states and how they got their banknotes printed. He writes:
When I was with the BEP from 1979 to 1988, I was privy to many banknote printers that printed paper currency for beleaguered countries. Hey, I like the word "beleaguered," that has to stand for shunned countries. Government, quasi-government and commercial printers often printed banknotes for countries not in the good graces of the U.N. or the United States.
As I traveled to foreign countries I was often invited to visit their banknote printing operations. At times I would see a roped-off area where a tarp of some sorts would cover the half-finished or finished product. As I was trained by BEP printers, I could actually look at the rapidly turning press and actually see what was being printed. I often spied such banknotes. We all knew that the banknotes had to come from somewhere.
I remember that savant of western banknote history, Ed Rochette, regaling me about the war with Mexico c 1915. The U.S. forces allowed a train from Mexico to travel from El Paso to Pueblo, CO, to pick up an order of Mexican banknotes from a banknote printer located there.
It actually was a couple of BEP offset printers that taught me the art of focusing on a stamp whirling by. They did this to check registration. Try that on a slot machine!
Wayne Homren, Editor
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