The Souvenir Card Collectors Society (SCCS) was founded in 1981 as interest in the hobby steadily gained popularity.
The U.S. Postal Service began consistently issuing cards in about 1972, and Canada Post began putting out exhibition cards in the early 1980s. Semi-official cards entered the scene soon after – these were produced mainly by the American Bank Note Co., its subsidiary Canadian Bank Note Co. and the British-American Bank Note Co. in Ottawa. By 1992, official and semi-official cards hit a peak of 40 different cards issued in a single year.
As the only North American organization dedicated to the hobby of souvenir card collecting, the SCCS took on the task of cataloging the many hundreds of cards in a growing number of categories. Initially, souvenir cards were primarily philatelic, but by the 1990s, cards depicting historic currency captured the interest of numismatic collectors. The hobby is one of the few appealing to both stamp and coin collectors.
Based in Oregon, the society published its Numbering System for Forerunner and Modern Day Souvenir Cards catalogue, by founder Curtis Radford, in 1989. A follow-up supplement came in 1992. These books remain foundational references for serious collectors of the material.
The society’s quarterly Souvenir Card Journal has also published more than 160 issues, following the latest trends and releases with historical background and related articles on security engraving.
In 2018, the SCCS began building a comprehensive online library of image galleries, providing collectors with pictures and data on a wide variety of souvenir cards. Presently, there are more than 25 categories, including early forerunners; cards from numerous philatelic and paper money organizations; and engraved cards issued by SCCS chapters and private individuals. More than 1,600 images are now viewable at souvenircards.org/gallery/gallery.html, and discoveries are regularly added.
MORE RESEARCH, MORE GALLERIES
The SCCS is now compiling scans and data for several major card categories, including those issued by American Stamp Dealers Association Chapter 15 (Inpex), the United Nations Postal Administration and the American Philatelic Society.
As these new web galleries go public, the society relies on collector assistance to fill in missing reference images. Needed help was graciously provided when the SCCS recently published galleries for Canada Post, Christmas seal and duck stamp cards.
You can view the SCCS’s gallery of Canada Post souvenir cards, which were issued from 1981-98, at souvenircards.org/gallery/CP/CP.html.
Since 1991, the SCCS has continued its annual tradition of creating and distributing limited-edition souvenir cards. The cards are intaglio printed from engraved steel plates and only available to members.
This year, the organization celebrated its four-decade milestone with the most elaborate annual card to date. The five-colour 40th anniversary souvenir cards are entirely engraved and required seven passes through a die-stamping press. Fewer than 250 cards were printed.
Four historic vignettes on the card reflect the golden age of the banknote engraver’s art. They include an 1870s scene of a pressman and assistant, engraved by the National Bank Note Co. for the Plate Printers Union, a streetcar from the 1890s, a riverboat scene from the 1880s and a seated female figure from the 1920s.
Cards are offered as a free premium to all new members. Dues for a one-year membership are $25 and will extend to cover 2022. In addition to the card, members receive the Souvenir Card Journal and other benefits.
A membership form can be downloaded at souvenircards.org, or for more information, contact SCCS Secretary Greg Alexander, 3081 SW River View Dr., Pendleton, OR 97801.