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How Many Souvenir Cards Were Made By Bep


by Davita Hensel



Welcome to the fascinating world of souvenir cards produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). These collectible cards have captivated the imaginations of philatelists and collectors alike for decades. In this article, we will delve into the journey of these unique cards, exploring their significance, production methods, and the factors that influence their quantity.


The BEP, an agency of the United States Department of the Treasury, is primarily known for printing currency notes. However, they have also been creating souvenir cards since the 1950s. Souvenir cards are distinct from regular postage stamps as they are not valid for postal use. Instead, they are produced to commemorate significant events, anniversaries, or as a way to showcase stamp designs.


These cards serve a dual purpose. On one hand, they provide a tangible representation of philatelic history, featuring intricate designs, unique stamps, and relevant information about the events they commemorate. On the other hand, they offer a valuable collectible for enthusiasts, often increasing in value over time.


The production of souvenir cards has evolved over the years. Initially, they were produced by overprinting regular postage stamps with additional text and designs. However, as the demand for these collectibles grew, the BEP started creating dedicated cards with unique designs and printing techniques.


The number of souvenir cards produced by the BEP varies from issue to issue. Factors such as the significance of the event, anticipated demand, and printing capabilities can influence the quantity produced. Some issues may have limited runs, making them highly sought after and valuable in the collector’s market.


In this article, we will explore the history of souvenir cards produced by the BEP, analyze production records, and estimate the total number of these unique collectibles manufactured. We will also discuss the value and rarity of certain souvenir cards, as well as the importance of preserving and documenting these pieces of philatelic history.


So, join us on this journey as we unravel the mysteries surrounding the production and significance of souvenir cards by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Prepare to be captivated by the stories and details of these remarkable collectibles that bridge the gap between art, history, and the world of philately.


Background of BEP (Bureau of Engraving and Printing)

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, commonly referred to as the BEP, is an agency of the United States Department of the Treasury. Established in 1862, its primary function is the printing of currency notes for the United States government.


The BEP has a rich and storied history, rooted in the necessity of a secure and efficient system for producing money. In the early years, individual banks across the United States were responsible for issuing their own currency. However, this led to a lack of standardization and widespread counterfeiting.


To address these issues, the BEP was created to centralize the printing process and establish uniformity in the nation’s currency. Initially located in the basement of the Treasury Building, the BEP quickly expanded its operations due to increased demand for reliable currency.


Over the years, the BEP has advanced technologically, incorporating state-of-the-art printing techniques and cutting-edge security features. Today, it is responsible for producing billions of dollars’ worth of currency each year, utilizing advanced printing presses, specialized inks, and intricate design elements to deter counterfeiting.


However, the BEP’s operations go beyond currency production. In the 1950s, recognizing the popularity of stamp collecting and the demand for collectible items, the BEP began issuing commemorative souvenir cards. These cards were created to celebrate important events, highlight significant historical moments, and showcase stamp designs in a unique and collectible format.


Since then, the BEP has continued to release a wide range of souvenir cards that appeal to collectors and enthusiasts alike. These cards often feature vibrant artwork, intricate details, and informative text related to the event or stamp being commemorated.


With its rich history, longstanding commitment to quality, and contribution to the world of philately, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing stands as an influential institution in the realm of currency production and the creation of coveted collectibles.


Definition of Souvenir Cards

Souvenir cards, often referred to as philatelic souvenir cards, are collectible items produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) to commemorate significant events, anniversaries, or to showcase stamp designs. These cards are distinct from regular postage stamps in that they are not valid for postal use.


Souvenir cards come in various shapes and sizes, typically larger than regular stamps, allowing for more intricate designs and additional information. They can be rectangular, square, or even shaped to match the theme or subject being commemorated. The BEP employs a range of printing techniques and top-quality materials to produce these cards, ensuring they are visually appealing and of high collectible value.


One of the defining features of souvenir cards is their connection to philately, the study and collection of stamps and postal history. These cards provide a way for collectors to delve deeper into the world of stamps, offering a tangible artifact that encapsulates the significance of certain events or stamp designs.


Each souvenir card is carefully crafted to showcase a specific theme or event. The design may feature iconic landmarks, historical figures, famous artworks, or symbols associated with the subject being commemorated. In addition to the visual elements, souvenir cards often include informative text, providing historical context, relevant dates, and details about the stamp design or event being celebrated.


Collecting souvenir cards can be a rewarding hobby for philatelists and collectors alike. These items offer a glimpse into the history, artistry, and cultural significance of the events they commemorate. They provide a tangible connection to notable moments in time and allow collectors to build a comprehensive and visually stunning collection.


Souvenir cards are highly sought after in the philatelic community, with their value determined by factors such as rarity, condition, historical significance, and demand. Some souvenir cards may have limited production, contributing to their desirability and potential increase in value over time.


Whether acquired for their aesthetic appeal, historical value, or investment potential, souvenir cards stand as unique and cherished collectibles that bridge the gap between stamps, art, and significant events in history.


Purpose of Souvenir Cards

Souvenir cards produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) serve various purposes, all of which contribute to their appeal and desirability among collectors. These cards are created to commemorate significant events, highlight important anniversaries, and showcase notable stamp designs. Let’s explore the key purposes behind these unique collectibles.


Commemoration: Souvenir cards are designed to honor and commemorate important events in history. These events can range from national celebrations, such as Independence Day or the inauguration of a president, to international exhibitions, significant anniversaries, and cultural milestones. By creating cards dedicated to these events, the BEP provides a tangible way to remember and reflect upon these moments.


Showcasing Stamp Designs: Souvenir cards offer a platform to showcase intricate and visually stunning stamp designs. The cards provide a larger canvas compared to regular postage stamps, allowing for more detailed artwork and the inclusion of additional elements. Collectors and enthusiasts can fully appreciate the beauty and intricacy of stamp designs through these cards.


Philatelic Education: Souvenir cards often include informative text that provides historical context, relevant details about the stamp design, and other related information. This educational aspect adds depth to the collectible and allows enthusiasts to gain a deeper understanding of the events, people, or subjects being commemorated. Souvenir cards provide a valuable resource for learning about philatelic history.


Collectible Value: Souvenir cards have inherent collectible value due to their limited production and connection to important events. As their popularity increases, so does their potential value in the collector’s market. Collectors worldwide seek out these cards as treasured additions to their collections, appreciating not only their artistic appeal but also their potential investment value.


Promotion of Philately: Souvenir cards play a crucial role in promoting the hobby of philately. They generate excitement and interest among stamp collectors, driving engagement and participation in the philatelic community. These cards serve as both entry points for newcomers and treasured pieces for seasoned collectors, fostering a sense of community and passion within the hobby.


Souvenir cards produced by the BEP serve as a bridge between historical events, noteworthy stamp designs, and the world of philately. Their purpose extends beyond mere commemoration, offering collectors a way to connect with history, appreciate artistic designs, and engage with the vibrant community of philately.


History and Evolution of Souvenir Card Production by BEP

The production of souvenir cards by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has a rich history that spans several decades. Since the 1950s, the BEP has been creating these unique collectibles to commemorate significant events, highlight important anniversaries, and showcase notable stamp designs. Let’s delve into the fascinating history and evolution of souvenir card production by the BEP.


In the early years, souvenir cards were produced by overprinting regular postage stamps with additional text and designs. These early cards were issued to accompany various stamp releases and to celebrate national and international events. Over time, as the popularity of these cards grew, the BEP began to create dedicated cards with unique designs and printing techniques.


The 1960s marked a significant turning point in the evolution of souvenir card production. The BEP introduced the concept of “first day of issue” souvenir cards, which were issued on the same day that a new postage stamp was released. These cards showcased the new stamp design and often included relevant information about the subject matter being depicted.


Throughout the years, the BEP continued to innovate and refine its souvenir card production methods. Technological advancements in printing allowed for greater design flexibility and the incorporation of intricate details. The use of specialized inks, embossing, and foiling techniques further enhanced the visual appeal of these collectibles.


By the late 20th century, the BEP began collaborating with renowned artists, designers, and other government agencies to create unique and visually striking souvenir cards. The cards featured a wide range of themes, including historical events, famous landmarks, and cultural icons.


As the demand for souvenir cards increased, the BEP started offering subscription programs, allowing collectors to receive new issues directly from the source. These programs ensured that collectors had access to limited-edition cards and helped foster a loyal base of customers.


Today, souvenir card production by the BEP continues to thrive. The cards are sought after by collectors worldwide, ranging from casual hobbyists to serious philatelists. The BEP’s commitment to quality, attention to detail, and rich history in currency printing have made its souvenir cards highly desirable among collectors.


The evolution of souvenir card production by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing reflects the ever-changing landscape of philately and the growing demand for unique and visually appealing collectibles. These cards serve as artifacts of the past, providing a tangible connection to significant events, and are celebrated for their artistic beauty and historical value.


Factors Influencing the Number of Souvenir Cards Made by BEP

The quantity of souvenir cards produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) can vary from issue to issue. Several factors influence the number of cards made, ensuring a balance between demand, historical significance, and printing capabilities. Let’s explore the key factors that impact the quantity of souvenir cards made by the BEP.


Significance of the Event: The significance of the event being commemorated plays a crucial role in determining the number of souvenir cards produced. Major national or international events, important anniversaries, or significant cultural milestones may warrant a larger production run to meet the anticipated demand and ensure wider availability.


Anticipated Demand: The anticipated demand for a particular souvenir card influences the quantity produced. The BEP considers market research, pre-orders, and subscription program enrollments to gauge the level of interest and determine the appropriate number of cards to produce. High-profile events or highly anticipated designs may result in larger production runs to meet the expected demand.


Printing Capabilities: The printing capabilities of the BEP also factor into the number of souvenir cards produced. The BEP utilizes specialized printing presses and techniques to create these collectibles, but there are limits to the production capacity. The printing process requires time and precision, and the BEP must consider its workload and other printing commitments when determining the quantity of cards to produce.


Cost Considerations: The cost associated with producing souvenir cards is another factor that influences the quantity made. The production of these cards involves various expenses, including the design process, printing, materials, and distribution. The BEP must strike a balance between meeting demand and ensuring cost-effectiveness to avoid excessive production that may result in unnecessary expenses.


Limited Edition or Rarity: Some souvenir cards are intentionally produced in limited quantities to increase their collectible value and desirability. Limited editions create a sense of exclusivity and rarity, making these cards highly sought after by collectors. In such cases, the BEP carefully determines the number of cards to produce to maintain their scarcity and appeal in the collector’s market.


Philatelic Program Duration: The duration of a philatelic program can also impact the number of souvenir cards produced. If a program runs for an extended period, the BEP may opt to produce a larger quantity initially and subsequently adjust production based on demand and ongoing interest. This approach allows for flexibility in meeting collector demand while ensuring the availability of cards throughout the program’s duration.


By considering these key factors, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing can strike a balance between meeting collector demand, honoring the significance of events, and maintaining the value and rarity of certain souvenir cards. The thoughtful consideration of these factors ensures that each production run is carefully planned in order to provide collectors with unique and valued collectibles.


Analyzing the Production Records of Souvenir Cards

Analyzing the production records of souvenir cards offers valuable insights into their availability, rarity, and historical significance. By examining these records, collectors and enthusiasts can gain a deeper understanding of the production quantities and trends. Let’s explore how analyzing the production records of souvenir cards provides valuable information to the philatelic community.


Production Quantities: Examining production records allows collectors to determine the exact number of cards produced for a particular issue. This information provides a sense of rarity and scarcity, as well as an understanding of potential availability in the market. By comparing production quantities across different issues, collectors can identify highly sought-after cards with limited production runs.


Printing Methods and Techniques: Production records can reveal the printing methods and techniques employed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) for specific souvenir card issues. This information helps collectors appreciate the level of intricacy and craftsmanship involved in creating these collectibles. It allows for a deeper appreciation of the printing technology used, such as specialized inks, embossing, or foil stamping.


Evolving Design Elements: The analysis of production records can unveil changes and evolution in design elements over time. The BEP often incorporates new artistic styles, updated security features, or commemorative themes into their souvenir card designs. By examining production records, collectors can identify shifts in design trends and appreciate the progression of the artwork on these cards.


Historical Significance: Souvenir cards often commemorate significant historical events or anniversaries, and the analysis of production records helps to understand the context and importance of these events. By examining production quantities and release dates, collectors can gain insights into the cultural and historical significance attached to specific issues. This knowledge enriches the collector’s understanding of the cards and enhances their value as historical artifacts.


Identifying Variations and Errors: Production records can aid in identifying variations and errors in souvenir card issues. These variations can include differences in printing plates, colors, or design elements. By meticulously studying the production records, collectors can identify and appreciate these variations, which in some cases can significantly impact the value and desirability of certain cards in the collector’s market.


Market Demand and Pricing: Analyzing production records can also provide insights into market demand and pricing. By understanding the quantity produced and the level of collector interest, enthusiasts can gauge the potential value and market availability of specific issues. This information helps collectors make informed decisions about acquiring or trading these cards.


The analysis of production records of souvenir cards plays a vital role in understanding their rarity, historical significance, design elements, and market dynamics. It offers collectors valuable insights and knowledge that enhance their appreciation for these unique collectibles, bridging the gap between art, philately, and historical preservation.


Estimating the Total Number of Souvenir Cards Manufactured by BEP

Estimating the total number of souvenir cards manufactured by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) can be a challenging task due to various factors such as limited production runs, variations in print quantities, and the passage of time. However, by examining production records, collecting data from reputable sources, and considering market availability, it is possible to derive an estimate of the total number of souvenir cards produced.


One method of estimating the total is to analyze the production quantities recorded for individual issues. By summing up the known production quantities for each issue, one can arrive at a rough estimate of the cumulative total. It is important to note that not all production quantities may be readily available or accurately recorded, especially for older issues.


Additionally, collecting information from knowledgeable collectors, philatelic organizations, or experts in the field can provide valuable insights. These individuals may possess anecdotal knowledge or have access to historical documents that shed light on production quantities, print runs, or specific editions.


However, it is essential to remain cautious when estimating the total number of souvenir cards manufactured. The BEP has produced a vast number of cards over the years, and production quantities can vary significantly between different issues. Some cards may have had limited runs, while others may have been produced in larger quantities. Rarity, desirability, and collector demand can also affect availability in the market.


Factors such as accidental destruction, disposal, or loss of production records can further complicate the estimation process. These factors can create gaps in the data, making it challenging to arrive at a precise total. However, even with these limitations, an estimate can still provide a useful benchmark for collectors and enthusiasts.


By combining production records, expert knowledge, and historical information, it is possible to develop a conservative estimate of the total number of souvenir cards manufactured by the BEP. While the exact figure may elude us, the estimated total helps collectors understand the relative scarcity and desirability of specific issues, adding to the intrigue and fascination of these unique collectibles.


Value and Rarity of Souvenir Cards

Souvenir cards produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) hold both intrinsic value and rarity, making them highly sought after by collectors. The value and rarity of these cards are influenced by various factors, including production quantities, historical significance, condition, and market demand.


Production Quantities: The number of souvenir cards produced for a specific issue directly impacts their rarity and, consequently, their value. Limited production runs contribute to the scarcity of certain cards, increasing their desirability among collectors. Issues with lower production quantities tend to command higher prices in the market due to the challenge of acquiring them.


Historical Significance: Souvenir cards that commemorate significant historical events or anniversaries often carry added value. The historical context and importance attached to these cards contribute to their desirability and collectible worth. Cards associated with notable events or figures can become highly sought after by collectors who appreciate the link between philately and historical preservation.


Condition: The condition of a souvenir card contributes to its value. Cards in mint condition, with no flaws or damage, are generally more valuable than those with signs of wear or imperfections. Well-preserved cards, free from creases, stains, or fading, are highly sought after and command premium prices in the market.


Rarity within Issues: Even within the same issue, certain variations or errors can add to the rarity and value of a souvenir card. Printing anomalies, variations in color, or design elements can create unique versions that collectors actively seek. These rare variations become prized additions to a collector’s assortment, often commanding higher prices due to their scarcity and uniqueness.


Market Demand and Collector Interest: Market demand and collector interest significantly influence the value of souvenir cards. A highly sought-after design or a card associated with a popular theme can drive up its value. Cards that garner attention from a wide range of collectors or enthusiasts may see competitive bidding and higher prices in the market.


Philatelic Popularity and Trends: The shifting trends and popularity within the philatelic community can impact the value of souvenir cards. As interests and tastes evolve over time, certain cards may experience surges in demand, leading to increased values. Conversely, shifts in collecting interests may temporarily dampen demand for specific issues, resulting in lower prices.


It is important to note that the value and rarity of souvenir cards can fluctuate over time. Market conditions, collector preferences, and the discovery of new variations or information can impact prices and desirability. Maintaining a vigilant eye on the market and staying informed about new developments can help collectors understand and appreciate the value and rarity of their souvenir card collections.



The world of souvenir cards produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) offers a captivating blend of history, art, and collectibility. These unique cards, created to commemorate significant events, showcase stamp designs, and honor important anniversaries, hold a special place in the hearts of philatelists and collectors worldwide.


Throughout the years, the BEP has continuously evolved its souvenir card production, incorporating advanced printing techniques, collaborating with renowned artists, and capturing the essence of the events they commemorate. The significance of these cards lies not only in their artistic beauty but also in their role as tangible links to historical moments.


Factors such as production quantities, historical significance, rarity, and market demand influence the value of souvenir cards. Limited production runs, commemoration of notable events, and variations within issues all add to their allure and desirability among collectors. The appreciation of these cards goes beyond their monetary value, as each card tells a story and offers a glimpse into a specific moment in time.


While estimating the total number of souvenir cards manufactured by the BEP may pose challenges due to the absence of comprehensive records, a thorough analysis of production records, expert knowledge, and market trends can provide valuable insights into the relative rarity and availability of specific issues.


Whether collected for their historical significance, artistic appeal, or potential investment, souvenir cards captivate the imagination and create a sense of community among philatelists. These cards serve as windows into the past and bridges between art, history, and the world of collecting.


So, whether you are an avid philatelist, a curious enthusiast, or someone new to the world of souvenir cards, exploring the rich history, production methods, and value of these unique collectibles by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing promises an exciting journey. Cherish the beauty, embrace the stories, and immerse yourself in the captivating realm of souvenir cards.