Unloading, Vignette Die Proof, Frederick Girsch 1860s ABNCo


Engraved by Frederick Girsch for the American Banknote Company this as a die proof depicting men unloading goods at a wharf.

Frederick Girsch was born near Darmstadt, Germany 31 March 1821, died Mt. Vernon, NY 18 Dec. 1895. As a boy he received drawing instructions from Carl Seeger. He supported his mother and four sisters by painting. His portrait of a Princess helped Girsch to attend the Royal Academy of Darmstadt. In that city he engraved for G.G. Lange. In 1848 he went to Paris to study; the following year he came to New York City. His first work in the U.S. was as etcher and engraver for the New Yorker Criminal Zeitung. In New York City Girsch also worked for other publishers including D. Rice, A.N. Hart, and DeBow’s Reuiew. The portraits of G.B. McClellan, David D. Porter, George Washington and John Winthrop in Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography were engraved by this artist. Bank note engraving was his forte. From 1855 to 1866 Girsch engraved for Danforth, Wright & Co. He engraved for American BNCo as early as 6 Dec. 1862 and as late as 12 June 1875. He might have also engraved for the National BNCo, and perhaps the Continental BNCo.

American traced its beginning back to Philadelphia and Robert Scott, who started a bank note business in that year. Scott was also engraving for the United States Mint. Finally he relinquished his interest in bank notes and the firm was taken over by John Draper, who had been his assistant. At some time during the long period to 1858, each of the founding firms in some manner, or form had been connected with Scott or Draper, thus establishing the date of beginning as 1795. The name “American Bank Note Company” was used by Joce­lyn, Draper, Welsh & Company, in addition to its regular name, since 1854, with the thought that it could be later used by a bank note engraving and printing institution. In 1858 the leading bank note firms-seven in number-united to form an association, which was incorpo­rated under the title of the American Bank Note Company, Association. The founding firms were Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson, New York, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Montreal, with Isaac Carey of the New Eng­land Bank Note Company, Boston, and George Matthews, Montreal; Toppan, Carpenter & Company, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Boston; Danforth, Perkins & Company, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Boston; Bald, Cousland & Company, New York and Philadelphia; Jocelyn, Draper, Welsh & Company, New York, with Draper, Welsh & Company, Philadelphia; Wellstood, Hay & Whiting, New York and Chicago, and John E. Gavit, Albany. It was agreed among the firms to associate and thus survive the depressions that were occurring, especially the one of 1857. The articles of agreement were signed April 29, 1858, and an official announcement of the Association was issued on May 1, expressing its purpose as:

“For the purpose of placing the bank note currency of the country upon a basis of greater security, with the same features of stability and perpetuity that pertain to Banking Institutions.”

In the spring of 1859, Edmonds, Jones & Smillie, a comparatively new firm, joined the Association. The Association continued business under the agreement until 1879 when the National and Continental Bank Note Companies joined, and the name was then changed to the American Bank Note Company, Consolidation.

Additional information


Frederich Girsch


VF, minor foxing




india die sunk on card


Engraving: 2.5" x 1.75", Card: 5.25" x 4.25"