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Homer Lee Bank Note Company

The Homer Lee Bank Note Company was a producer of postage stamps and currency and was founded in New York City by artist, engraver, and inventor Homer Lee. In 1891, it was absorbed into the American Bank Note Company.

The Homer Lee Company grew in the 1880s and 1890s by producing engraved stock and bond certificates, primarily for railroads and mining companies. In 1883, the company won the competition to engrave and print the first postal notes for the postal system during the contract’s first four-year period. Both the yellow and the white security papers for these early money orders were produced by Crane and Company in Dalton, Massachusetts. Homer Lee hired Thomas F. Morris, perhaps best known for his later work as the government’s Chief of the Bureau of Engraving, from the American Bank Note Company to be his Superintendent. The Homer Lee Bank Note Company produced currency and postage stamps for numerous foreign governments before amassing debts and being taken over by the American Bank Note Company in 1891.

Homer Lee, an engraver, artist, inventor, and entrepreneur, was born in 1856 in Mansfield, Ohio.

He was the founder and president of the Homer Lee Bank Note Company in New York City, also vice president of the Franklin Lee Bank Note Company, and president of the Hamilton Bank Note Company. Married to Charlotte Riddle in 1891, daughter of a prominent Philadelphia-area cotton manufacturer, he had two sons: Leander and Homer Jr. Socially active, he invented the Homer Lee rotary steel plate printing system, as well as numbering devices used by the United States Treasury.

In 1883, his company was awarded the first four-year contract to engrave and produce Postal Notes, an early form of money order, for the post office department. His company produced notes catalogued as Types I, II, II-A, and III. Type III is the rarest design of the 1883-1894 series. His company was purchased by the American Bank Note Company in 1891. He died at the age of 73 on Thursday, January 25, 1923, and is buried next to his wife in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, NY.