American Bank Note Company and Its Predecessor Companies

by Terry Cox

The American Bank Note Company was the world’s foremost engraver and printer of bank notes and securities. Engraving company names are recorded for only about half of the certificates in the database. Of that number, the ABNCo imprint appears on 45% of the certificates and imprints from predecessor companies account for an additional 15%. Assuming that percentage holds up as more information develops, the American Bank Note Company and its ancestors will eventually account for 60% of all railroad-related certificates.

The huge American Bank Note Company was formed from an association of seven competing companies in 1858. Because it employed the finest engravers, the images that ABNCo offered were of the highest and most durable quality. It created thousands of classic images after 1858, but continued to use images from all its ancestral companies. That is why you will find identical vignettes on many diffferent certificates with different engraving company imprints.

Unfortunately for the company, paper stock and bond certificates were eventually supplanted by electronic trading. By the 1990s, all but a tiny percentage of security ownership had become a matter of electronic record. By 1999, the amount of global security and bank note printing had dropped so precipitously that the company ultimately had to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Here is a complete list of all the predecessor companies, that I currently know of, that ultimately became part of American Bank Note Company. Please contact me if you have evidence of additional predecessor or related companies that I have missed. (Most information presented here comes from The Story of the American Bank Note Company by William H. Griffiths, 1959.)

American Bank Note Company
American Bank Note Co. (known as the “Association” period)
formed in 1858 by the merger of seven companies

Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson (23.9% share)
Toppan, Carpenter & Co. (22.4% share)
Danforth, Perkins & Co. (21.8% share)
Bald, Cousland & Co. (13.3% share)
Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Co. (8.4% share)
Wellstood, Hay & Whiting (8.2% share)
John E. Gavit (2% share)

merged with the National Bank Note Co. and the Continental Bank Note Co. in 1879 to form the American Bank Note Co. (the “Consolidation”)

American Bank Note Co. (known as the “Consolidation” period)
formed in 1879 by consolidation of

American Bank Note Co.
National Bank Note Co.
Continental Bank Note Co.

merged with United Bank Note Corp. in 1911 and continued to operate as American Bank Note Co.
later, became a subsidiary of United States Banknote Corporation, a holding company
later changed its name to American Banknote Corporation
spun off American Bank Note Holographics Co. in 1998
filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1999
currently reporting to SEC as American Banknote Corporation (ABNK.PK)

Bald, Cousland & Co.
formed in 1853 from part of Danforth, Bald & Co.
associated with six other companies:

Danforth, Perkins & Co.
Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Co.
John E. Gavit
Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson
Wellstood, Hay & Whiting

to form the American Bank Note Co. in 1858 (13.3% share)

Henry Bradbury
formed engraving business in 1856
became Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. Ltd. in 1890
Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. Ltd.
formed in 1890 from Henry Bradbury
bought by American Bank Note Co. in 1903
operated as independent subsidiary
Canada Bank Note Company
Canadian Bank Note Co. Ltd
formed in 1896 as Canadian Division of American Bank Note Co.
incorporated as separate subsidiary in 1922
Charles Toppan & Co.
formed in 1834 from private Charles Toppan engraving business
merged with individuals from Draper, Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty to form Draper, Toppan, Longacre & Co. in 1837
Continental Bank Note Company
Continental Bank Note Co.
formed in 1863
merged with American Bank Note Co. (the “Association”) and the National Bank Note Co. to form the consolidated American Bank Note Co. in 1879
Danforth, Bald & Co.
formed in 1850 from Danforth & Hufty
part became Danforth Wright & Co. in 1853
part became Bald, Cousland & Co.in 1853
Danforth, Bald, Spencer & Hufty
formed in 1843 from Danforth, Underwood & Co.
became Danforth, Spencer & Hufty in 1844
Danforth & Hufty
formed in 1847 from Danforth, Spencer & Hufty
became Danforth, Bald & Co. in 1850
Danforth, Perkins & Co.
formed in 1858 from Danforth, Wright & Co.
associated with six other companies:

Bald, Cousland & Co.
Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Co.
John E. Gavit
Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson
Wellstood, Hay & Whiting

to form the American Bank Note Co. in 1858 (21.8% share)

Danforth, Spencer & Hufty
formed in 1844 from Danforth, Bald, Spencer & Hufty
became Danforth & Hufty in 1847
Danforth, Underwood & Co.
formed in 1839 from Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty
became Danforth, Bald, Spencer & Hufty in 1843
Danforth Wright & Co.
formed in 1853 from part of Danforth, Bald & Co.
part became Danforth, Perkins & Co. in 1858
part became National Bank Note Co. in 1859
Draper & Co.
formed in 1845 from part of Draper, Toppan & Co.
merged with Charles E. Welsh and Jocelyn & Purcell to form Draper, Welsh & Co. in 1851
Draper, Toppan & Co.
formed in 1840 from Draper, Toppan, Longacre & Co.
some members became Toppan, Carpenter & Co. in 1845
some members became Draper & Co. in 1845
Draper, Toppan, Longacre & Co.
formed in 1837 from members of Draper, Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty and Charles Toppan & Co.
became Draper, Toppan & Co. in 1840
Draper, Underwood & Co.
formed in 1828 from Fairman, Draper, Underwood & Co.
became Draper, Underwood, Bald & Spencer in 1833
Draper, Underwood, Bald & Spencer
formed in 1833 from Draper, Underwood & Co.
became Draper, Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty in 1835
Draper, Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty
formed in 1835 from Draper, Underwood, Bald & Spencer
some members became Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Co. in 1837
some members became Draper, Toppan, Longacre & Co. (with Charles Toppan from Charles Toppan & Co) in 1837
Draper, Welsh & Co.
Draper, Welsh & Co.
formed in 1851 from merger of Draper & Co., Charles E. Welsh and Jocelyn & Purcell
became Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Co. in 1854
Edmunds, Jones & Smillie
formed in 1858 by association with Alfred Jones
associated with American Bank Note Co. in 1859
Fairman, Draper, Underwood & Co.
formed in 1823 from Murray, Draper, Fairman & Co.
became Draper, Underwood & Co. in 1828
Franklin Bank Note Co.
Franklin Bank Note Co.
also known as Franklin Engraving & Printing
formed in 1877
acquired by American Bank Note Co. 1880-1885
merged with Homer Lee Bank Note Co. to form Franklin-Lee Bank Note Co. in 1897

Franklin-Lee Bank Note Co.

Franklin-Lee Bank Note Co.
formed as an American Bank Note Co. subsidiary in 1897 by merger of Franklin Bank Note Co. and Homer Lee Bank Note Co.
became Franklin-Lee Division of American Bank Note Co. in 1904
John E. Gavit
John E. Gavit
formed in 1845 from John E. Gavit & Co.
became Gavit & Duthie in 1849
John E. Gavit
formed in 1851 from Gavit & Duthie
associated with six other companies:

Danforth, Perkins & Co.
Bald, Cousland & Co.
Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Co.
Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson
Wellstood, Hay & Whiting

to form the American Bank Note Co. in 1858 (2% share)

Gavit & Duthie
formed in 1849 from John E. Gavit
became John E. Gavit in 1851
Hall, Packard & Cushman
formed in 1839
became Packard, Gavit & Co. in 1840
Hartford Graphic Bank Note Engraving Co.
formed in 1817
became Jocelyn, Darling & Co. in 1831
Homer Lee Bank Note Co.
formed prior to 1891
acquired by American Bank Note Co. in 1891
merged with Franklin Bank Note Co. to form Franklin-Lee Bank Note Co. in 1897
International Bank Note Co.
International Bank Note Co.
formed in 1878
bought by American Bank Note Co. in 1902 which continued to operate Manhattan facility until 1911
Jocelyn, Darling & Co.
formed in 1831 from Hartford Graphic Bank Note Engraving Co.
became N. & S.S. Jocelyn in 1834
Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Co.
formed in 1854 from Draper, Welsh & Co.
associated with six other companies:

Danforth, Perkins & Co.
Bald, Cousland & Co.
Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
John E. Gavit
Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson
Wellstood, Hay & Whiting

to form the American Bank Note Co. in 1858 (8.4% share)

Jocelyn & Purcell
formed in 1850 from N. & S.S. Jocelyn
merged with Draper & Co. and Charles E. Welsh to form Draper, Welsh & Co. in 1851
John E. Gavit & Co.
formed in 1843 from Packard, Gavit & Co.
became John E. Gavit in 1845
Alfred Jones
started engraving business in 1841
merged with Edmunds & Smillie to form Edmunds, Jones & Smillie in 1858
Murray, Draper, Fairman & Co.
formed in 1810 from Robert Scot’s business
became Fairman, Draper, Underwood & Co. in 1823
National Bank Note Co.
formed in 1859 by some previous members of Danforth, Wright & Co.
merged with American Bank Note Co. (the “Association”) and the Continental Bank Note Co. to form the consolidated American Bank Note Co. in 1879
New England Bank Note Co.
formed in 1833
merged with Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson in 1847
N. & S.S. Jocelyn
formed in 1834 from Jocelyn, Darling & Co.
became Jocelyn & Purcell in 1850
Packard, Gavit & Co.
formed in 1840 from Hall, Packard & Cushman
became John E. Gavit & Co. in 1843
Ralph Rawdon
formed engraving business in 1816
became Rawdon, Balch & Co. in 1818
Rawdon, Balch & Co.
formed in 1818 from Ralph Rawdon business
became Rawdon, Clark & Co. in 1823
Rawdon, Clark & Co.
formed in 1823 from Rawdon, Balch & Co.
became Rawdon, Wright & Co. in 1828
Rawdon, Wright & Co.
formed in 1828 from Rawdon, Clark & Co.
became Rawdon, Wright & Hatch in 1832
Rawdon, Wright & Hatch
formed in 1832 from Rawdon, Wright & Co.
became Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson in 1847
Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson
formed in 1847 from Rawdon, Wright & Hatch
merged with New England Bank Note Co.
associated with six other companies:

Danforth, Perkins & Co.
Bald, Cousland & Co.
Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
John E. Gavit
Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Co.
Wellstood, Hay & Whiting

to form the American Bank Note Co. in 1858 (23.9% share)

Robert Scot
formed bank note engraving business in 1795
became Murray, Draper, Fairman & Co. in 1810
Southern Bank Note Co
unofficial subsidiary of American Bank Note Co. seemingly formed in 1861 after the beginning of the Civil War
equipment seized by Confederate forces in 1862
Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
formed in 1845 from part of Draper, Toppan & Co.
became Toppan, Carpenter, Casalear & Co. in 1850
Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
formed in 1857 from Toppan, Carpenter, Casalear & Co.
associated with six other companies:

Danforth, Perkins & Co.
Bald, Cousland & Co.
Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson
John E. Gavit
Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Co.
Wellstood, Hay & Whiting

to form the American Bank Note Co. in 1858 (22.4% share)
part of business continued to operate as Toppan, Carpenter & Co. after association

Toppan, Carpenter, Casalear & Co.
formed in 1850 from Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
became Toppan, Carpenter & Co. in 1857
Charles Toppan
formed engraving business in 1829
became Charles Toppan & Co. in 1834
Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Co.
formed in 1837 from members of Draper, Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty
became Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty in 1838
Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Hufty
formed in 1838 from Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Co.
became Danforth, Underwood & Co. in 1839
United Bank Note Corporation
formed in 1906 as a holding company to acquire stock of American Bank Note Co.
companies merged in 1911
later changed name to United Banknote Corporation
Charles E. Welsh
started engraving business in 1841
merged with Draper & Co. and Jocelyn & Purcell to form Draper, Welsh & Co. in 1851
Wellstood, Benson & Hanks
formed in 1848
became Wellstood, Hanks, Hay & Whiting in 1852
Wellstood, Hanks, Hay & Whiting
formed in 1852 from Wellstood, Benson & Hanks
became Wellstood, Hay & Whiting in 1855
Wellstood, Hay & Whiting
formed in 1855 from Wellstood, Hanks, Hay & Whiting
associated with six other companies:

Danforth, Perkins & Co.
Bald, Cousland & Co.
Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson
John E. Gavit
Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Co.
Toppan, Carpenter & Co.

to form the American Bank Note Co. in 1858 (8.2% share)

Western Bank Note Co.
formed in 1865
bought by American Bank Note Co. in 1901
operated as subsidiary until 1911
operated as Western Division of American Bank Note Co. after 1911

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